Yet another tragedy took place. This time a mass shooting at a concert in Las Vegas. At least 58 killed. More than 400 injured.
In the face of a one of the worst mass shootings in U.S. history, there are really no words to grasp the magnitude of what’s happened. Whether you’re religious or not, even if you’ve never set foot within a church or temple, when you don’t know what else to say, so often the words that come out are:
“My thoughts and prayers are with you.”
We post it online and others do the same.
A question I confess I’ve asked as a pastor, and a question I’m guessing you’ve asked as well is this:
“Do my thoughts and prayers really matter?”
Do they matter when hundreds are waking up with the news that their loved one has been killed by a shooter? When hurricanes destroy entire islands? As earthquakes devastate the lives of thousands?
My honest answer? Yes. Your thoughts and prayers do matter when the unimaginable happens, when your world falls apart, and here’s why.
- Thoughts show you care.
Ever had someone say they’re thinking about you? It’s comforting, right? You feel cared for, loved, known, reassured.
Letting someone know you’re thinking about them, especially during tragedy, assures them that they’re on your mind. Their pain is being felt. Their grief shared.
Thinking about someone is a reminder that they’re not alone.
Our thoughts naturally go to the things we care about. Ever find your mind wandering during a meeting or on a long drive? Thinking about our families, what’s next on our to-do lists or that next vacation? Me too.
When we make the effort to direct our thoughts toward others we’re showing them we care about what’s going on in their life.
Thoughts show you care.
One step further, if at all possible, Lord-willing our thoughts will lead us to action.
- Prayers encourage and comfort.
In Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians he tells them, and us to “encourage one another.” More literally, that could be translated as “comfort” or “strengthen” one another.
This same word—encourage—can also be translated as “pray.”
Encourage and pray for your friend.
Comfort and pray for your coworker.
Strengthen and pray for fellow humans experiencing the unimaginable.
More and more, I’m beginning to realize that there is no greater gift that I can receive from friends, family, and even complete strangers than their prayers for me.
As followers of Christ, prayer is our direct connection to God. Our way to talk to him about anything and everything.
Especially when others in our lives are hurting, prayer is one of the best ways we can talk to God on their behalf.
Pray that they would be comforted in tragedy.
Pray they wouldn’t feel alone in their grief.
Pray they will feel supernaturally strengthened.
In the face of unexplainable circumstances is there anything more powerful we can do for each other than pray?
Prayers encourage and comfort.
Hundreds of people whose lives were normal yesterday have been shaken by the events in Las Vegas. Normal seems a world away. Right now your thoughts and prayers do matter.
More than ever.
People of Las Vegas, my thoughts and prayers are with you.
Adam Weber is the lead pastor of Embrace Church, a 11 year-old church based in Sioux Falls, SD. Recently recognized as one the youngest megachurch pastors in North America. He’s written a book on prayer called Talking With God: What To Say When You Don’t Know How to Pray (Penguin Random House). Adam is married to his beautiful wife, Becky, and they have four kids, four chickens and two dogs.