Today, April 15, 2013, we witnessed another moral outrage as another cowardly sneak attack was launched upon a defenseless crowd of innocent people. Some were murdered at the scene, some maimed for life, some succumbing to their wounds later, all brutalized, and again for no legitimate reason.
We know the First Responders did another outstanding job, that their heroism is now a given. We know an investigation is taking place to track down those responsible. We know the leftist will pile on the opportunity to exploit the misery for political advantage like they always do, as they say “Never let a good crisis go to waste,” and we know the outrage of this will stir us to “do something” to make sure this kind of thing can never happen again.
Unfortunately there is no magical solution to be found in the usual places we look. Even the most brutally totalitarian systems cannot prevent it. The first thing we should all do is pray for the victims. Finding the culprits and bringing them to justice will come later. Right now the victims need our prayers.
But how do you pray effectively for people you do not know? The key thing to remember is that God already knows who and what you are praying for, that your prayers by themselves are powerless, that they serve essentially like a showing of hands to let God know that someone cares. People in this fallen world meet tragedy every day. We all expect God to care, even when we ourselves don't care enough to pray for them.
There is an old saying, “There are no atheists in foxholes.” That is because when we are in foxholes with shells raining down we care deeply about ourselves. When it is someone else in the foxhole, we may pray, but usually less fervently. When is the last time you prayed for our troops deployed in various places around the world? I will admit that I do more praying now that I know I have nephews Over There.
So how do you pray effectively? In James 5:16 we find “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” This tells us something about the prayers of an unrighteous man. And how do you become a righteous man? No, you can't try hard enough to become righteous on your own. The answer is in the first part of the verse. Until you surrender, defect to the Kingdom of God and shed your unrighteousness onto Jesus, you are unqualified to pray for anything else. It’s basically, “who's asking,” an alien looking for benefits, or a citizen of The Kingdom?
When you pray for another, you are essentially expressing your compassion for them. If you don't care enough to come clean so you are qualified to ask on their behalf, can you really say you care?
And once you have done that, how do you go about caring deeply for a stranger? I must confess I find it much easier to pray for people I know than people I don't. But again there is a way. Every human being is gifted with an instinctive compassion for their fellow human beings. Our problem is that we allow ourselves to become calloused. Think back to when you were a child, when a murder on television made you cry, or gave you bad dreams. There you remember how much more immediate and intensely you felt when you saw someone hurt. And yes, even strangers.
So when you see those pictures of bloodied people being hurried out of the blast zone, and you hear the number of dead and the number of injured, and all the other numbers that “are just statistics,” and you feel all that anger welling up inside you, remember that the proper first order of business is taking care of the victims, not going after the guilty. That will come later, certainly. But right now, while these people who just ran 26 miles are in those emergency rooms having their legs cut off, and suffering in ways we cannot imagine, remember that they are first and foremost your fellow human being, in need more of your prayers then your anger.
Can you do it for them? Can you bow your head right now and come clean enough to ask on their behalf? Prayer can accomplish nothing, or prayer can move mountains. It’s up to you. Won't you join me?
Oral Deckard, Member
Berean Baptist Church
Terre Haute, Indiana