Are you praying about tragedy? Have you ever been asked to pray about a tragic situation that makes you feel incredibly sad and helpless? “Please pray for a friend whose son just died of a drug overdose,” a member of our adult Sunday school class said this week during prayer request time. As he told us about it, it felt like all of the air was sucked out of the room. This request stabbed our hearts as we imagined the anguish of the family.
There are some prayer requests where tragedy has already decisively struck. What do you pray? That question dangled in our minds as our class leader asked for someone to volunteer to do the closing prayer. My heart was pounding as I volunteered. Usually we sit in our chairs with our heads bowed and eyes closed, but in this situation, I felt we needed to do some sort of unified, symbolic action. So I asked everyone to stand and hold hands to pray. There’s nothing magical about my idea, I just knew that in the past standing and holding hands makes me somehow feel stronger together and feel God’s presence in a more tangible way.
Praying about tragedy
I don’t remember everything that I prayed, but I offered our anguish and helplessness up to God and prayed that he would be with the grieving family and help them get through each hour and each day.
All of us have consciously or unconsciously prayed God’s helping presence into tragic situations. It may seem like a weak prayer, but the opposite is true. God tells us, “Never will I leave you; never will forsake you.” Relying on a strength beyond our own is the only way to live through tragic situations and praying for God’s presence is like throwing a lifeline to both the victims of tragedy and those of us saddened and grieving over their plight. God promises to be present, even when the darkness and sadness are the greatest. We won’t have the magic words to pray, but we will have a good God who can enable us to pray in the face of tragedy.
Copyright Karen Barber 2016. All rights reserved