It happened again yesterday. Violence was unleashed on an unsuspecting group of people. We’ve seen it happen at concerts, night clubs, schools, restaurants, and churches. Yesterday it was Sutherland Springs Baptist Church, a small church east of San Antonio.
In the aftermath of these attacks, social media explodes, and yesterday was no different. Facebook and Twitter have become our outlet, our platform, and many of us feel the need to say something. Most Christians don’t know exactly what to say, but we do feel the need to pray as well as the need to call others to pray. Yesterday Facebook and Twitter were filled with things like #wearesutherlandsprings and #prayforsutherlandsprings.
I doubt most Christians would question the importance of prayer. I also doubt most Christians know exactly what to pray in a situation like this. When you turn to God after a tragedy so crushing, what do you say? Here are six suggestions of things to pray after Sutherland Springs (or after the next mass shooting):
- “We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” This prayer comes from the mouth of king Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20:12. It is a desperate cry to help, and a humble admission of our neediness. Even as you pray this prayer, you can rest in the assurance that God’s Spirit and God’s Son are interceding on your behalf (Romans 8:26, 34).
- “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in our affliction.” This prayer comes from the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4. We come to God in prayer because we know he offers comfort to his people. This comfort is ours through the Holy Spirit, the Comforter (John 14:26).
- “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” This question comes from a group of glorified saints in heaven. They are not scolded for this prayer. Rather, they are told to rest a little longer, and they are assured that there will be a reckoning. It is right to expect God to set things right.
- God, give them grace and power to endure. This prayer is based on Paul’s experience with the “thorn in the flesh.” Paul repeatedly prayed that God would remove this particular suffering from his life. God responded with these words, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
- “Pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ.” Paul asked the church in Colossae to pray this specific prayer while he was in prison. Paul didn’t want his imprisonment to be wasted. Instead, he wanted the gospel to be clear, and he wanted the gospel to spread even in the midst of suffering (Colossians 4:2-4).
- “Come, Lord Jesus!” This is the final prayer in the Bible (Revelation 22:20). John prayed this prayer after seeing visions of tribulation, visions of the Parousia, and visions of the new creation. After everything John saw, his one desire was that Jesus would come. God’s people have long echoed this prayer, longing for Christ’s return and the final righting of all wrongs.