River Walk
He Told You

A Prayer for the Day After Violent News


Photo by Max Kleinen on Unsplash

And for days to come.

Father, in the light of all that has happened and is happening, in our world I am at loss. I want to say that I am shocked, dismayed, disgusted, indignant, sorrowful, grieving, broken, and horrified. What bothers me most is that I am not, not the way I think is appropriate, not enough to keep me from going about my business or considering my own trivial concerns.

Oh, I am all those things, but not to the degree that I was at the first words of so many other tragedies, travesties, and unspeakable events.

Why not? Lord, do not let me lose my capacity to be shocked.

Lord, grant that I will not establish some new "norm:" in my heart where I begin to accept the unacceptable as normal.

We want to be unshakable people, Oh God who cannot be moved. We want to be a people, and may we be a people, God of Strength, who cannot be terrorized by terror and terrorists. That is your promise again and again.

But, oh God of Compassion, Justice, and Truth, whose heart can be broken, who chose to be vulnerable in Jesus, who offered Yourself and emptied Yourself to walk with us and wept over the city, may we not lose our ability to be there with our neighbors and be touched by their pain, outraged by atrocity, and stunned by violence.

Our neighbors around the world, Dear God, our neighbors in Europe, Israel, Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, all over Africa, all over the world, our neighbors, are suffering violence, when that is too disturbing, we focus on the local and now, now, our local news is filled, daily with local violence.

And we come, Dear God, we come to a new equilibrium.

God, don't let us settle into such a pattern.

New York and Sacramento are our back yards. Ukraine is just down the street. The East is a short walk. Keep our emotions a bit fragile that we will have to cry out to You for peace. Keep us tender that we might always fall to our knees in prayer and hurt for those who are in pain and shock. Fill our hearts with love for our neighbors and love for our enemies so that we find it hard to imagine how a sweet little baby could be born into a world of wonder and grow into an instrument of violence.

We pray for those who might grow to accept such options as a means of redress of injustice perceived or real, or as a way of exorcising personal demons. We pray for divine and human intervention in their lives sufficient to turn around their thinking before it is too late. May we work to create just societies and peace on earth and may we never tolerate what is intolerable.

May we continue to reject violence in all forms and may we always hate, despise, and be adamantly opposed to the senseless taking of life.

Perplex us Oh God. Keep us perplexed because these things should not make sense and must not be accepted.

Why am I not more badly shaken and preoccupied? Why am I not desiring to be there in the thick of it bringing Your grace and love to the city?

Have I thrown up my hands in resignation?

No, but I am still bothered.

Why could I sleep so well? Well, maybe a few hours is not so well. Maybe I am shaken but a bit calloused. Maybe I am preoccupied.

Maybe this is just a new level of reception of such news the likes of which we keep hearing ... from schools and shopping centers and streets. Maybe we cannot live in a constant state of horror or indignation and maybe we are called to be present ... present to be, in whatever way we can be, part of the solution, part of the compassion, part of the intercession for our neighbors.

For our neighbors, I pray, Lord, God. Grant them shalom. Grant them shalom. Grant them shalom .... and healing and grace and mercy and perspective and courage and strength.

Thanks You for the helpers, for the brave and courageous helpers who arrived quickly and served when they did not know if the danger had passed.

Help folks to find some rest.

Shut us up when we start to pontificate and capitalize on these events, Father. Stop us from being "know-it-all"s. Dissolve our party lines. Fade our red-blue divides into obscurity. Fill us with Your love.

Let us be neither complacent nor terrorized.

Let us neither be settled nor disturbed.

Let us be neither indifferent nor obsessed.

Let us be neither detached nor co-dependent.

Let us neither be accepting of evil nor vengeful.

Let us not be tempted be consumed with anger nor overwhelmed by grief. We need the mind of Christ in these days. We need resolve and courage. We need wisdom. We need guidance.

We cannot fix everything or everybody and we cannot enact any policies or extract any justice that will make this right. Nothing can make this right, but You, Lord, can enter in and redirect the negative energies of those possessed by evil intentions to bring good and glory in some mysterious way, through some gentle touch, and with Your leading hand of grace.

I come to You, my Father, as a follower of Jesus, asking You for Your grace to follow Him into the dark places today with His mind in my mind, His heart in my heart, His Word on my lips, His love flowing through me, His tears in my eyes, His steadiness in my responses, His grace, Your grace, in everything I do or say. And I pray this for people everywhere who will meet hurting, broken, wounded, worried people and seek to bring them hope.

With much more on my heart to pray and continuing to pray, I pray these things in Jesus' Name. Amen.