When Prayer Isn’t Enough

Gunman Devin Patrick Kelley, murdered 26 people and wounded 20 more inside a small Texas church on Sunday.  He was armed with an assault rifle and 15 loaded magazines in the deadliest shooting in Texas history.

This tragedy comes on the heels of the Las Vegas mass shooting which resulted in 58 dead and 546 wounded.  Both shootings were the result of alienated, angry white men with easy access to assault weapons.

After both shootings the President and many elected leaders called for a time of silence and prayer.  Prayer  for the victims and those left behind.

As a pastor and as a citizen I say that prayer is not enough.

It angers me that elected officials, who are selectively pious, use ‘moments of silence and prayer’ as a calculated means of diverting our attention from what needs to be done.   In their mind prayer is an end unto itself.  The NRA and their minions both religious and political, use prayer as a means to maintain the status quo.

They think prayer will offer a sufficient release from the pain and confusion we feel.  They view prayer simply as a release valve.

But they don’t understand prayer. Prayer when entered into with sincerity has  a way of opening up the mind, heart and imagination.  Prayer can convict us when we are on the wrong path and lead us in a new direction.

People of faith call this conversion.  To turn from one direction towards another.

My prayers are with those who lost their lives and lost loved ones in that little church in Texas.  But my prayer is also for our nation, that we will repent from our idolatry of guns.

The NRA and their elected collaborators hope that prayer will divert us.  My hope is that prayer will propel us to get involved and say ‘no more’.  No more children and families ripped apart by easy access to weapons.

Prayer is not and end unto itself.  Prayer can empower us to put in place reasonable limits on access to weapons (universal background checks, outlawing of bump stocks and semi-assault and assault weapons, limits on types of ammunition designed to inflict the greatest damage).

In today’s New York Times there is a compelling article entitled: ‘What Explains U.S Mass Shootings’  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/07/world/americas/mass-shootings-us-international.html?_r=0  The article points out that the United States rate of gun violence is unique and rooted in our unfettered access to weapons.

It seems we love our guns more than life itself.

The article goes on to say:

Americans make up about 4.4 percent of the global population but own 42 percent of the world’s guns. From 1966 to 2012, 31 percent of the gunmen in mass shootings worldwide were American, according to a 2015 study by Adam Lankford, a professor at the University of Alabama.

Yes, let us pray.  Let us confess and turn from our worship of weapons.  Let us pray for the strength to continue the good fight of bringing about sane, reasonable limits on weapons.  For the sake of the children now and the future, let us pray and let us act.