Why I Pray in Times of Disaster

As it should be, the airwaves have been filled with reporting and accounts of Hurricane Sandy and its impact the eastern part of the the United States. For many of us who are not being directly affected by the storm, it often feels like all we can do is follow the news coverage on TV, track our friends’ updates on Facebook and follow the immediate reporting through our Twitter stream.

The struggle for me during these times is how to not treat such times as some voyeuristic movie experience that can be paused or halted by powering down my device, but instead find a healthy way to participate in the healing and support. Honestly it is difficult to do, because in times that seem overwhelming and almost surreal, it’s much easier to pretend as if it’s not really happening, to distance oneself from the pain or romanticize the situation all together.

So here is what attempt I do.

I pray.

I give.

I connect.

I pray some more.

While prayer often seems to be birthed out of moments of fear, hopelessness and disbelief, I believe that prayer is ultimately an act of courage, hope and faith. Some think prayer is an act of convenience and an justification for inaction, and I get that, but for many people of faith, prayer is a powerful reminder to be the people we say we are. For me prayer is about remembering that there are always people in need of knowing God’s peace in body, mind and spirit; prayer is about remembering that even out of times of our deepest despair, new life will emerge; and prayer is about trusting that, somehow in some way, the Spirit of God is moving.

Prayer is not a set of demands or a wish list for God, but a powerful statement of my faith in God

And so I pray.

And my prayers compel me to give.

While for some, giving of physical or fiscal resources is not possible or prudent, I choose to give through my own denominational disaster assistance program, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance. There are others as well, Church World Service, The Red Cross and many others* doing the front line and long term work of response and rebuilding.

And I connect.

I keep up with friends and family, I try to leverage whatever social networking influence I have for good and I make sure that the lives of those affected so directly remain at the forefront of my mind for as long as possible. From my distance it’s one particular – and hopefully helpful - way to be part of the response and recovery.

And then I pray some more.

Here is a prayer that was lifted up by Diana Butler Bass last night.

I speak for Christ:
Your God is not high in heaven
playing wild games with nature.
Your God is deep within each storm.
Your God is the suffering God,
revealed to us at Calvary,
and suffering with all who suffer
in the aftermath of storms.
Your God is the God of resurrection and new life

Below is an info graphic from my friend Sarah Cunningham. Please feel free to share it or simply consider doing some or all of what it calls us to do: pray, give and remember.

God in your mercy, hear OUR prayer . . .*

www.sarahcunningham.org/hurricane-sandy-infograph

* Please feel free to leave comments with organizations that you think are worth supporting and/or any worship resources or prayers that you have found meaningful.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kimberlyAknight Kimberly Knight

    Nicely said Bruce.

  • http://twitter.com/brianleport Brian LePort

    Thank you for this wise reminder, Bruce.


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