I went on social media again to read about the outrage with everything that’s been happening, and all the polarized back-and-forth shouting just made me sick to my stomach — as it always does. It’s a whole lot of yelling, but none of it does anything, nor does it influence anyone who could do something. It’s obvious that juries are not swayed by it. And most people who are yelling on their blogs are just trying to go viral and look relevant and be sassy instead of actually caring about the people involved. You can tell, and we can see right through it.
I believe in the right to peacefully protest. I believe it works. I believe we should leverage our social platforms to speak up for the voiceless. I believe even trolls have the right to speak, because the least dignified person is afforded the dignity to speak their mind.
But I think there’s one thing we keep saying that we’ll do and we simply don’t. We say we will, and we’re not.
I keep seeing, “We need to pray.” I keep hearing that over and over. I’ve probably said it too. “Pray for our country.” It sounds nice and it’s true. But I wonder how many people are actually doing this. I wonder if they realize the potential magnitude of what they’re saying and what prayer can actually do if we went for it.
How about if the billions of people who tweeted and preached and blogged and sassed about injustice actually did pray? I don’t mean to sound uppity or self-righteous. I’m preaching to me too. I’m not telling you what to do with your anger; I’m also angry. But I mean imagine: if we all got on our knees together daily, even just a few hundred of us, and sought to commune with God and reflect on each other’s needs and thought about how to serve one another. Imagine taking five seconds to have empathy, and what that could do for the whole day.
Earlier today, after reading too many cruel comments online, I felt driven to my knees to pray. To be truthful, I haven’t done this in a long time. I consider myself a “Bible-believing Christian” — but prayer is hard. I usually do it in the car, between places, always on the go. It’s totally different on my knees. At first I thought, “This will make a great blog post.” It took a while to really be in silence. I was too self-conscious, and I expected it. I pushed through. Soon — I ran through the fog of my own distraction, and I knew He was there. I knew He was grieving over us. And I could only say, “We’re so screwed up right now. I’m screwed up, God. Please help us. We need your help.”
Maybe it did nothing. But at least God and I, we had a good time together. I felt a sober peace. The light outside felt brighter, sharper, new.
I don’t think we need to be “religious” to do this. If there’s no God, then there’s really no harm. You spent some time wishing peace upon the world, and if anything, it’s helped you think of others. We think about fictional people all the time, and it’s probably less healthy. But if there is a God, and He has the power to intervene and change hearts and orchestrate human structures, then I don’t see how we could be doing anything else but prayer. If God does exist, and I believe He does, then we need nothing less than His divine power to heal a hostile weary world. We need action strengthened by prayer.
I’m sure this sounds like Pascal’s Wager or that I’m endorsing passivity. I suppose there a lot of reasons not to pray. It’s easier to yell and tweet and write passive-aggressive commentary and to preach to the same choir and attack phantom enemies. Something in us resists the spiritual. Even those who want to pray find it hard to focus.That’s all understandable.
I’m only asking that we would ask, “If I really believed prayer worked, what would I pray for the world right now?” Then maybe some of us would go do that. A few of us might cross the line and really pray to the God who can do what we can’t. And even if nothing changes, then you did, and if we all did, then there’s a chance we could turn this whole thing around. I have hope for that, even in a world such as this.