Prayers

We are in the aftermath of yet another horrific mass shooting in Uvalde. I’m sure we all have a lot of responses and emotions to the latest news. And as Christians, one of our automatic responses is to pray.

This is a good thing. Prayer is always a good thing. In prayer, we draw close to God. We can lament and weep over the this tragedy. We can yell and rage in our anger and frustration over the senseless deaths of children. We can be silent and know that God is with us. We can intercede on behalf of those who mourn the death of loved ones and those who are traumatized body, mind, and soul. Prayer is a good thing. It is a faithful response in the midst of such horror.

But I also want us to reflect on what exactly is prayer. Part of my morning devotion routine is to read an emailed devotion from the Henri Nouwen Society, which is an organization that has curated Henri Nouwen’s writings and sends short reflections every day. Check out their website – https://henrinouwen.org/about/. Today’s devotion is pertinent to our reflection on prayer. Here is today’s meditation:

Prayer and action can never be seen as contradictory or mutually exclusive. Prayer without action grows into powerless pietism, and action without prayer degenerates into questionable manipulation. If prayer leads us into deeper unity with the compassionate Christ, it will always give rise to concrete acts of service. And if concrete acts of service do indeed lead us to a deeper solidarity with the poor, the hungry, the sick, the dying, and the oppressed, they will always give rise to prayer. In prayer we meet Christ, and in him all human suffering. In service we meet people, and in them the suffering Christ. . . .

Action with and for those who suffer is the concrete expression of a compassionate life and the final criterion of being a Christian. Such acts do not stand beside the moments of prayer and worship but are themselves such moments. Why? Because Jesus Christ, who did not cling to his divinity, but became as we are, can be found where there are hungry, thirsty, alienated, naked, sick, and imprisoned people. Precisely when we live in an ongoing conversation with Christ and allow the Spirit to guide our lives, we will recognize Christ in the poor, the oppressed, and the downtrodden and will hear his cry and respond to it wherever he is revealed.

To sign up for these devotions or check out other meditations, go to this website – https://henrinouwen.org/meditation/

I love how Nouwen describes prayer. Prayer and action go hand in hand. Prayer inspires us to act. Prayer empowers us to act. Through prayer, God nudges to the places where we should act.

So, in our prayers in the aftermath of this latest shooting, how is God nudging us? How is our prayer leading us to act?

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