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“Sending thoughts and prayers your way.”

How many times did we hear some politician or dignitary say these very words in the days following the recent school shooting in Florida (or any previous mass shooting). I suppose it is an attempt to comfort those who are hurting. In fact, one politician said in a T.V. interview, “I have sent my prayers to comfort them.” Since prayer is to be addressed to God, not to persons, I have my doubts about how much these folks know about prayer, and how much they actually pray. But that’s beside my point for today.

First, I understand the intent behind such comments. “Thoughts and prayers” are good, right and appropriate, and at least prayer should come first. In fact, it may well be God alone who can solve this problem. A. J. Gordon, American Baptist pastor, writer, and composer, wrote, “You can do more than pray after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed.” So, keep praying. Florida student survivors and their parents, reacted with, “We don’t need your thoughts and prayers. Send us help.”

Second, I understand their frustration. They want gun control, or at least a ban on assault weapons that get in the hands of unstable persons, or perhaps more assistance for the mentally ill. Whatever it is, they want more than sentiment. And, although it may sound strange, coming from one who taught prayer in a theological seminary for many years, I’m with them 100%. I don’t know what to do, but I know it is past time to do something more then send “thoughts and prayers.” As a member of a church that endured one of the early church shootings (Wedgwood Baptist Church, Fort Worth, Texas, 1999), I feel some of their pain.

There comes a time when we have to do more than pray. It is that time. I’m not in a position to make any decisions, but if those who are, can’t agree on a solution, it’s time they are removed and replaced with someone who can do more than send “thoughts and prayers.” Now I need a text for this little sermonette. How about James 4:17, “To him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.”

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