Prayer in Midst of Catastrophe


I have taken a break from posting for several weeks to concentrate on work and academic requirements as I continued to adjust to the recent death of a son. During those weeks, much has happened in the world. Outrage sparked riots in Baltimore after a young man died in custody of police. The grief and anger at perceived powerlessness that caused many to protest peacefully sadly gave others excuse to steal and destroy property belonging to others in their community. Lawlessness prompted mobilization of additional police and military personnel to restore order, increasing threat to life not only for the protesters but also for the uniformed personnel called in from other work to maintain order. One woman captured national attention when she spotted her son among the protesters and took action to correct him. A national discussion of race relations, police corruption, and parental responsibility ensued. A series of earthquakes wrought havoc in Nepal. Hundreds died, and communities collapsed. Humanitarian response happened quickly, although those on the ground may have wanted it still sooner. Typhoons, tornadoes, and floods also caused loss of life and property. Terrorists killed more people; they destroyed or destroyed historic artifacts. In the midst of all this trauma, other people grieved at the bedsides of dying loved ones or anxiously awaited a physician’s call to learn the reason for their physical discomfort. A common action occurred in each of these settings: People prayed. They “called for fire,” asking rescue from a power greater than themselves. When we pray, we confess that God exists, and that he can act to influence our environment. When we pray, we admit our inability to handle a situation without assistance. What each of the scenarios above attests is that when we pray, we should seek to recognize the needs of others. What we want may injure another. First responders sometimes die attempting to rescue. When someone is hired, other applicants fail. We must pray boldly, but pray also wisely and compassionately that we may listen and understand correctly what we should pray.

God of grace and mercy, forgive our foolishness. Sooth our pain. Heal our minds and our bodies. Restore relationships. Turn hearts to seek your will; motivate us to pursue peace when our hearts crave vengeance. Comfort us when we grieve. Empower us to seek justice in ways that will heal. Hear our prayer. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

About Michael Summers

Michael Waymon Summers has preached in twenty-seven of the United States as well as seven other countries. Michael earned a Master of Theology degree. He also has done graduate work in international studies. Michael likes to run, loves to sing, and reads voraciously.
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