When tragedy strikes in the form of another mass shooting or mass murder in the headlines, it is hard to know how to offer prayers to God.   At such times, we really don’t know how to pray.   In the face of violence and grief,  prayer times can be difficult.  Here is a congregational prayer to offer while grieving for the victims, their families and our world.

Church Prayer for Mass Murder Victims, Families and Communities 

Lord God,

So often we pray because it’s a part of the program, the ritual and perhaps not taken as seriously as conversation with God ought to be.

But with the events of this past week when our world experienced another mass murder tragedy we seek answers that rituals will not answer.  This Lord’s Day we seek to penetrate the mystery of beyondness.  Because what happened in this tragedy is beyond us.  It is beyond us that someone could do what was done.  How do you get that sick, that baseless, that pathological?

And it feels beyond us to get our arms around such a tragic event, beyond us to be a parent without grief today, beyond us to put out the darkness.

But we are the church and we’ve come here not to be a snuffed out candle but to be a light in the dark places of the world.  As the church we will be the light that offers a way, a life, a truth beyond grief.  In the words of another whose life ended tragically and senselessly, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “We shall overcome.”  Not by ourselves, but through Your flame of love.  We cannot get our arms around this tragic event, but we feel Your arms around us.

And we pray that each of the mothers and fathers, each grandparent, every brother or sister, every aunt or uncle, and all of the human family might feel Your arms gently embracing our punctured places.

Lord, to be the church, to be the light in such dark places, it is our vocation – our calling to forgive.  That means we lift up even the one with the guns and other weapons.  We cannot be the church, cannot be the light unless we can say with our Lord, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”  And so, with the life changing sermon on the mount in mind, we pray for all who persecute, kill and maim with such ruthless, crazed and maddening actions.

Dear God, dear God, dear God, the sun rose this morning, the birds are in flight and even now during this unlikely time roses are still blooming.  And we, all of us, still have air to breathe.  We pause with excitement to know nothing stops your creative goodness.  We are struck by your balanced and unwavering love.

We pray for those who cannot get to first base, who are frozen in the political arena, not because there are no solutions, but because greed and selfishness have immobilized too many.  We need to move beyond the political games and do what is right for America.  You have given us brains to think and hearts to feel but political agendas trump your gifts.  We pray for the game of political football to end.

May we each take the time to allow Jesus to hold us, your hurting and confused children.  In the strong and loving name of Jesus we pray.  Amen.

Related articles

Church Prayer for Our Country and World as We Face Killings and Terrorism Using the Prayer of St. Frances.

Prayer Against Terrorism

Prayer for Tragedy Victims, Families and Communities


Copyright Emmett Diggs 2013.  All rights reserved.