Where are your Thoughts and Prayers?

26 May

Perhaps you have noticed that there are national tragedies—things that affect the psyche of the majority of the country in one fell swoop. Everyone is immune to a tragedy or two having an impact on someone they know, but, for the most part, the last several months have seen Sandy Hook, Boston’s marathon, and the Oklahoma tornadoes. If I attempted to make an exhausted list of the last ten years with the assistance of google, I could probably name at least five or six tragedies that hit home to you.

So, without my doing so, think of those specific tragedies and the aftermath of them. I have noticed a trend among people in general, and specifically, people in the media. As a wee lad, when I heard about something devastating (the first I remember was Reagan being shot and that they might postpone the Final Four). Perhaps, I remember it because when growing up you see everything as good guys and bad guys, and a line like, “We’re all Republicans today was my first understanding that not everything is always so black and white.

I believe it is very important to be staunch in your beliefs and for those beliefs to encompass every area of your life, yet I am also aware that there are people whose specific brand of being affected by the curse is different enough from my brand of being affected by the curse that we differ greatly in certain political areas. Well-intentioned people who saw the aforementioned attacks in Sandy Hook believe writing laws to disarm people is a positive step, while other well-intentioned people feel that we should start arming teachers. The fascinating aspect to me, however, is where our vernacular has gone.

As recently as ten years ago, I recall hearing people on the news refer to the attacks of September 11 and asserting that our prayers are with those negatively affected. I recall hearing President Bush, at the time, encouraging people to pray. I remember hearing (and to a small degree, witnessing) the statistics on church attendance swell greatly. It was appropriate to call to God in times of disaster. Shortly thereafter, I noticed the addition of the terms “our thoughts” being added to the phrase. This never struck me as negative, as a prayer, I understand that it usually takes thinking about someone to actually pray. Further, my understanding of God and prayer knows that our thoughts are certainly known and understood by Him.

After a recent tragedy, however, I noticed many people saying, “Our thoughts are with them.” Eliminating the prayer from the entire sentiment. Truthfully, for most people, it is probably a more accurate sentiment then what they were asserting, so maybe it should not bug me. Nevertheless, I find myself frustrated by the lack of people’s assertion of prayer. It is undeniable that when things are missing from a normal phrase it effects us more. Like when people say “one nation, indivisible” in the American flag pledge of allegiance, we notice the missing “under God.”

Many would be proud to leave in a nation that is indivisible and don’t dislike that sentiment in general. Yet, we are frustrated that the words “under God” are removed (never mind that it wasn’t added until the 1940’s). I remember a similar argument in my youth about the pledge to the Christian flag eliminating (or, if you have a different perspective, adding) the word “buried.” At any rate, I do think we have seen cultural acceptance of certain Christian things be thrown out.

People are judged based on human beliefs of fairness, where logic without the backing of Scripture, is the chief thing to which we appeal. This is why we prize our “free will” as important (of course, why someone wants to tout that they are a failure purely by choice seems weird, but that’s another discussion), because our own brain is the chief good. Our own ingenuity is the thing which we most respect. Our ability to process things is the most important. We are a society which believes that our thoughts are more important (or even just as important) as prayers. I remember that effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much, but my thoughts have no such power.

In fact, what is the benefit of thinking about someone whose just had a terrible time at all? I mean, noone ever says, “I’m sitting here without food and shelter, but at least your thinking of me.” That fact should sustain me another day until the food and water comes. It’s nonsensical to put any weight in our thoughts, unless they are backed up by prayers. And I hope that you are part of a praying people that can assert this!

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