When tragedy unfurls its divisive pedigree upon a situation, the most politically tinged phrase appears in its wake: We’ll keep the victims in our thoughts and prayers. The line has become a dusty cliché because some people behind the words have an utter lack of respect for the potential transformation behind the promise. In the United States and around the world, the people can’t even agree on who they’re praying to anymore! Whether it’s Allah or Ancestor Worship, a higher consciousness or some sort of higher power, the promise of a prayer has put the “p” in pluralism.
In doing so, the people have rejected the preeminent authority on intercession: Jesus Christ. He’s seated at the right hand of the Father, and that honor comes with the ear of the Father as well. Allah won’t answer. The ancestors are dead and buried. Ascending into a higher consciousness just leaves a “spiritual” person extremely vulnerable to demonic influence. Lumping God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit with both false and inferior gods into a conglomeration of a “higher power” is the equivalent of the spiritual version of multiple personality disorder (now called Dissociative Identity Disorder). Let’s make the crooked paths straight once and for all: there’s only one way to the Father and that’s through the blood of Jesus Christ. Anything else is simply an occult counterfeit that lacks the redeeming power of the new covenant.
God is never the problem when we pray amidst any circumstance; it’s the disposition of our hearts and the resulting prayers. Sometimes, the prayers we give are absolutely pitiful. Even before the eyes are closed and the head is bowed, the doubts are putting a stranglehold on our faith. We pray out of anxiety and fear, selfishness and impatience, wavering on whether God will even hear our petitions. That’s why it’s essential to quiet oneself before he enters into prayer and find solace with the Holy Spirit. Petition the Holy Spirit to guide you on your plan for prayer. Seriously, one needs to know three things before he utters the prayer: Who or What he’s praying for, Why he is praying, and How he’s going to pray. Like faith, prayer is not rooted in emotion. Whether you’re ready to rock or feel socked, one must pray with absolute trust that God will answer. What if I get shot down? Ask the Holy Spirit what you need to work on. Examine yourself.
Oftentimes, if we got what we wanted, we would miss out on a deeper revelation from the Father. The answer may not always be a yes, but if a no is given, there will be a provision from the Holy Spirit to either change/upgrade the prayer or produce a change within that God has been wanting you to incorporate. As believers, we cannot afford to act like a spoiled child whenever we don’t get the answer we want from God. There are times where a believer just needs to form a better prayer to get the intended result. That requires for a man/woman to remove hubris and discontent from the heart. Prayer is about asking the Holy Spirit, “What point do you want me to get to where I can be in a position to pray for a source of transformation?”
Let’s apply the plan of prayer to the aftermath of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church shooting by Dylann Roof. Who are we going to pray for? The members of Emanuel AME Church, the victim’s families, the city of Charleston, and yes, even Dylann Roof. Why are we going to pray? Innocent lives were taken and everyone is hurting. Satan wants to use this event as another stake in the ground for broken race relations. He wants hatred, unforgiveness, and riots. He wants people to lash out and exact vengeance. We want the opposite. How are we going to pray? Pray this prayer for the next few weeks or write down your own and pray it forward…
Dear Father God, we come to you in the name of Jesus Christ and through the utterings of the Holy Spirit. Father, we thank you that the victims’ families have already made a public declaration of forgiveness towards Dylann Roof. We pray for continued forgiveness and healing for the victims’ families, as well as the members of Emanuel AME Church. We pray that the Holy Spirit would drop upon that church and begin such a stirring revival that sprouts and begins flowing all the way through Charleston, South Carolina. We ask that the blood of Jesus Christ would fill the cracks of all the broken hearts in Emanuel AME and that your comfort would touch everyone. We ask that the trauma be felled by your presence and that the church members would draw nearer to you. We petition you for a hedge of protection around that church and that any further attacks against that house of prayer would be thwarted. We pray against any so-called race war and declare that any sort of retaliatory attacks would be struck down. We declare that race shall no longer be a dividing factor and that the hatred in men’s hearts because of race would be washed away by the Holy Spirit. We pray for Dylann Roof, the perpetrator of this murder. Whatever the sentence for him may be, whether life in prison or the death penalty, we ask that You would reveal Yourself to him so that his heart may be turned to You.We ask that he would call out to You to give up his malice, rage, and bitterness. We pray that he would ask for forgiveness and accept the justice that will be delivered. Father, Your will is to restore and we ask that South Carolina, the first state to secede from the Union in 1860, would become an example where the people decide to fully give up the remaining hurt and mistrust from the racial divisions of the past. Thank You, Father, for the mercy and grace that your are about to release on Charleston, South Carolina.
Some would say it’s in bad taste to pray for Dylann Roof. However, we must pray for those who are lost, and Dylann Roof is no exception. Our prayers are not meant for him to escape justice but to find his way towards the salvation found in Jesus Christ, even if it’s on death row or in a prison cell. I stand by my fellow brothers and sisters at Emanuel AME and will continue to pray that the church will operate in an increase of Jesus’ love. The people of Emanuel AME have responded with the love of Jesus and rather than rioting in the streets, they are giving their grief to God. What a display of faith! This is the action that binds up broken wounds.
Prayer isn’t a tired formality but a life-changing pipeline to the Father’s mercy. When we pray, we’re not stuffing a piece of paper into a glass bottle and throwing it into the ocean, hoping that some kindred spirit will find it one day. There’s no wishing on a shooting star, finding a four leaf clover, or hoping for a genie in a bottle. We have the most efficient system ever known. The Holy Spirit aids us in shaping our prayers and expresses them to Jesus, Jesus then intercedes for us, and the Father holds firm to His promises.
Of course, if you don’t believe in the tangible results of this process, it most definitely won’t work for you. If unbelief is your thing, that’s your perogative, but you’re going to miss out on the restoring power of prayer. Keeping someone “in your thoughts” won’t do anything for them. Prayer is action and our God brings results that far exceed the sticker price. One final note on prayer. If you promise someone that you’ll keep them in your prayers, you’d better well do it. Our prayers are not carelessly tossed up to God. We take them in all seriousness and that’s why we expect results. God does more than we could ever ask for or measure, so underestimating His power is a serious tactical error. So the next time you pray, just remember that you’ve got the Father’s ear and He does not return void.
Kevin Cochrane is an eighteen year old writer and blogger with the distinct purpose of radically restoring everyone with ears to hear to the original testimony of Jesus Christ. His mission is to live by the words he writes and develop his character along with the prose he pens. For updates on his latest blog posts, you can follow him on Twitter @RunFree_KC or click the follow button at the bottom of the page to receive notifications by email.