You’ve seen it by now. Whether it was John Piper’s now-infamous tweet (which has since been deleted), Westboro Baptist’s new hate-slinging website (which has since been hacked), or any of a number of other disturbing, disappointing and discouraging messages from the Christian circle following the devastating tornados in Oklahoma this week, you’ve seen someone stick their foot in their mouth. It’s usually lodged down in there pretty deep, too.
Some people defend them. Many more oppose these reactions and responses. Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Piper, and others are notorious for quickly responding to these kinds of events in seemingly insensitive ways. They talk about how these things happen because God is punishing people for sin, He’s turned away from man, or He’s a jealous God and can’t take any more of mankind’s behavior.
Andy Stanley verbalized by feelings pretty well in a tweet he posted this morning, in which he quoted 1 Corinthians 5:12:
“What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church?”
Answer: it’s not my business at all. Not even close. Not a bit. My business, your business, the church’s business, is to pray. So instead of hate-slinging, or trying to make some ill-timed point in the wake of current events (which really only turns people off to the church anyway), let’s take care of what IS our business: let’s pray. Here are some ideas of things to pray for:
- Pray for the victims and families of victims. They’ve lost everything, and now they have to try to put it back together. Many lost loved ones. Houses can be rebuilt and possessions can be recovered in time, but people are irreplaceable. Pray for those who have suffered the ultimate loss.
- Pray especially for the parents who have lost young children. Their lives are changed forever. Pray for the peace of God to completely cover them and surround them. Pray for healing, and for their hearts to not be hardened.
- Pray for the rescuers. They’ve seen things they’ll never forget. Many pulled bodies from the rubble. They will suffer. They’ll have nightmares. Pray for peace and comfort for those who have already sacrificed by being there for the hurting.
- Pray for the local churches. Ask God to give them the resources, the insight, the wisdom, and the strength to become heroic to the people in their communities. This is the ultimate chance for the church to fulfill its mission. Pray for the local churches to seize this opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ and to make a difference to people who need it now more than ever.
- Pray for the leaders in the communities that have been devastated. They will face more stress, anxiety, and criticism in the next few weeks and months than you and I will probably ever endure. Pray for wisdom for them as they lead, and for strength and courage for them as they make decisions and face critics, as well as care for the hurting in their cities.
- Pray for the church as a whole. We have several huge responsibilities during a time like this. There are obvious physical needs that we can and should help to meet. There are emotional and spiritual wounds that are critical that we can help to bandage. We also have the eye and ear of a watching and waiting world. They’re anxious, curious, skeptical, or afraid to hear what comes out of the mouths of “church people.” Pray for Christians to use their heads as they speak, to practice Christlike compassion and show mercy that is so badly needed. Pray for churches to see ways to best help and to take advantage of those ways.
These are just a few ideas. If you take 5 minutes, you can pray through all of these (and probably more). What would you add to the list?