Tragedy Overwhelms Us; We Don’t Know What to Pray
Tragedy to a certain degree is a part of life. Just watch the news and you will often feel your heart break for those in it. Murders, natural disasters, robbery, etc. There is evil in this world, and there are times when you are the one feeling the pain of your world seemingly falling apart.
My brother unexpectedly died from what appeared at the time to be a cold. My nieces and nephew went to bed that night like normal and woke up in the morning being fatherless. In the middle of the night, my mom woke up to a call from the hospital. My sister-in-law was in the room when he went into a seizure and watched the ambulance take him away trying to revive him.
Most of our news is not this tragic, but we all know that feeling of being out of control and wondering how we would continue. We are so overwhelmed that we don’t even know how to pray.
Do My Prayers Even Help?
I was thinking about this again because of recent news in Nigeria. Last month there was a ravage attack on Christians killing men, women, and children. This attack is being blamed on the Fulani Muslim herdsmen. The current Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, is not linked to these tragedies, but as a Fulani Muslim, many Christians fear his silence will embolden those actions.
In these types of situations, we often feel hopeless. We know we are to pray, but we feel so out-of-control. Who is to be blamed and what’s the right solution are not always as clear as it may seem, but we know we want peace and a feeling of safety.
When we are in these circumstances, prayer isn’t just what we say before doing something, it is what we need to do before doing anything. We have to believe that our prayers are actually doing something. We don’t know God’s plan without getting before His presence, so prayer reminds us that He is still in control and that He is still good.
Prayer Reminds Us God is On His Throne
When King Uzziah died, he had led Israel for over 50 years of peace. His death brought uncertainty. Would his son Jotham continue in his father’s ways or would he turn the nation away from God? At this moment Isaiah needed to hear from God and mercifully he did.
Isaiah saw the Lord, high and lifted up, exalted and on His throne (Isaiah 6:1).
Early in my marriage, things I was trying to hide from my wife came to the light. She was completely hurt and left me. I was scared, devastated, and hopeless. I called a friend of mine to share what was going on and just cried uncontrollably on the phone.
After that call, I went to my knees on the middle of the floor and prayed, not knowing really what to say. I hated the fact I was stuck in my sin and hated myself for hurting my wife. I was doing my best trying to cling to God.
When I got up, somehow I felt things would get better. I can’t explain it. I didn’t have any promise that my wife would take me back, but I definitely felt hope.
Prayer Reminds Us That God is Still For Us
Spending time with God in the midst of your crisis reminds you that God is in control and He is for you. Paul tells us that whenever we are anxious, we should take it to the Lord, and He will give us a peace that passes understanding (Philippians 4:6-7). It may not make sense to our heads – that’s what makes it pass understanding. Still, He gives us confidence.
When my brother died, it was impossible to see anything good coming out of it. To tell you the truth, thinking about it too long can still send the family into despair. But, God has shown up in several ways. During his memorial service at the youth group he was volunteering at, several kids made a decision for the Lord. This doesn’t erase the pain of the loss of a father and husband, but it did remind us that God wasn’t absent.
In Your Tragedy Pray and Get God’s Perspective
So, how do you pray when you world is seemingly falling apart? Remind yourself of God’s goodness and open yourself up to hearing Him speak. While your at it, pray for peace in Nigeria. As Christians, we need to stand together for more good to be in the earth and prayer is definitely a start. Again, we have many people from Nigeria who read this blog, if you are willing to say a quick prayer or commit to remembering them in prayer, please give them some encouragement in the comments below.
Kevin Shorter is the founder of this prayer-coach site and have served for several years in ministry and churches teaching on a variety of Biblical topics. Go to the contact page to request him to speak at your conferences and seminars.