6 Ways to Pray for Our City After Tragedy
This afternoon our city was rocked with reports of an active shooter situation in El Paso. Reports and details are still coming in.
(If you, a family member, or a friend have been affected by this situation we want to care for you and pray for you. Please contact Joe Alcantar who is coordinating pastoral care for us at (915) 727-2993 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
At times like these our hearts should turn to prayer and to the Lord. I admit that as reports were coming in I struggled to know even how to pray. It can feel overwhelming and dizzying. Surely as the days go on we will learn more specific ways to pray.
The Apostle Paul, who knew what it meant to be in constant danger, wrote these words from a prison cell: “The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Phil 4:16)
Let us remember that our reason to not be anxious is not in how safe our city is, but rather that “The Lord is at hand.” When we see the Lord is at hand we can come to him with prayer requests. And as we pray we can find that the peace of the Lord will guard our hearts and minds.
In light of this here are six ways to pray for ourselves and our city:
- Pray for those who mourn
Right now our city is mourning. Romans 12:15 calls us to “mourn with those who mourn.” There are families across our city today who will be mourning because they have lost a loved one. It is right that we enter into their grief and ask the Lord to be with them. It is right that as names flash across our news feed we take moments to lift up families in prayer. And yet, our mourning as believers should not be hopeless. It should not lead to despair. 1 Thessalonians 4:13 calls us not to mourn as those who have no hope. Our hope is in the Lord, even in tragedy, and we can pray others would be comforted with this same hope.
- Pray for those injured
Many will be recovering from physical injuries. Many others will be recovering from seeing or experiencing something they will carry with them for the rest of their lives. Let us pray that the Lord shows grace and mercy and brings healing to them. When Jesus walked the earth he often took time to minister to those with physical hurts. Let us pray that Jesus would again touch and restore.
- Pray for peace
Let us pray that this situation would be completely and finally over and that the city would have physical peace. But more than that, let us pray for a deeper peace.
Many will rightly be anxious as they consider what has happened. It is shocking to think that this tragedy happened in our city. We are statistically, one of the safest cities in America. We pride ourselves on having a “small town” feel. In my own heart I can feel anxiety creeping in when I think about going to get groceries or even drive around town. I know anxiety and fear are everywhere in our city right now. How can we ever experience peace again?
We are reminded that “the Lord is at hand” (Phil 4). God is even closer than our fear and anxiety. We can go to him in prayer and ask for peace that is not tied to our circumstances but above our circumstances. We can ask that our city experience the only true and lasting peace.
- Pray for hope
In the days to come we will need hope and our city will need hope. Rather than putting our ultimate hope in physical safety or home security or even good things like law enforcement, we must put our ultimate hope in the Lord. The Psalmist gives us this example saying, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” Biblically hope is not a flighty or weightless thing, but a sturdy concrete thing. It doesn’t mean “I hope I will be okay” but rather “I know whatever happens I will be okay because my hope is in the Lord.” Our city also needs this hope right now more than ever. Pray that hope in the Lord would shine out and give many comfort during this dark time.
- Pray for justice
Romans 13 says that God has given the government authority to punish evil and promote justice. Let us pray that justice would be done as much as it is possible in this life. Let us pray that every hidden thing come to light and that law enforcement and our judicial process would function as it should to lead to justice. Let us pray for the safety and security of our many law enforcement members in our church, and for all law enforcement members in our city. Let us ask that they do their work well and fully. And let us also pray that God would bring true justice in eternity.
- Pray for all things to be made new
At the end of history the Lord says “Behold I am making all things new” (Rev 21:5). At times like this we feel creation groaning and longing for renewal. We feel intensely the brokenness and evil of our world. But rather than looking down and despairing we can look up in prayer. We can ask that the Lord come and make all things new. We can ask the Lord to hasten the day when news reports like this will be no more, when there will be no mourning or crying anymore. We can look with hope to the resurrection as the promise that as surely as Christ rose, we will rise with him. As surely as Christ has renewed our hearts he will renew all things.
I love you church. I am praying for you and praying for our city today. I can’t wait to gather with you tomorrow, pray together, sing songs that remind us of our hope, and look to God’s word for comfort.
Come Lord Jesus,