Praying Down Gun Violence

Praying Down Gun Violence October 17, 2019

My piano teacher slid onto the piano bench beside me, but neither of us touched the keys. The studio was unnaturally quiet. My weekly lessons were usually filled with simple sonatas and easy etudes as Hallee encouraged me, an adult beginner, to relax my hands and lean into the music. But that fall afternoon in 2015, we sat side by side on the piano bench and consoled each other in hushed voices. We drew strength from each other and from our shared faith. In that moment Hallee and I were no longer teacher and student, but two mothers grieving the news of the Umpqua Community College shooting in Roseburg, Oregon. We didn’t know anyone in Roseburg—much less the victims—but we grieved anyway. Oregon was only one state away. Our backyard. The violence was too close to home.

As mothers, we knew what it was like to linger at morning drop offs, pulling our children in close for an extra hug before releasing them to a day of learning. We hope for their bright futures while knowing today may be all we have.

As news of school shootings and other acts of violence hit our headlines with brutal frequency, quiet moments like these are happening all over our country: people taking time to mourn the deaths of victims they’ve never met. We grieve because we recognize these violent acts are not isolated events, but an attack upon our nation. We understand that when one of our citizens is gunned down, it creates a wound in the fabric of our society.

What can be done to end the gun violence in our nation?

Some advocate for changes in gun laws and legislation; others see any new regulations as a systematic dismantling of rights. Some wish to arm every law-abiding member of society; others want only the police and military to have access. Many citizens plead for better mental-health centers and resources. Still others desire a combination of these ideas.

Despite the deep divides in our political landscape, I believe most law-abiding Americans want the same thing: We want the shootings to stop. We want to send our children to school each morning knowing we will see them again that afternoon. We want to move about our lives without fearing we could be gunned down in our church, in our schools, or in our own homes.

It’s easy to fall prey to fear and hopelessness. I often ask myself what can I, as an individual, do to bring healing to our nation? How can we, as a community, stand up to this kind of evil?

The Bible tells us that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). We must remember that behind each violent perpetrator is a demonic presence bent on destruction.

I’m convinced that prayer is the first step in taking back our country, even as we look for actionable steps forward. Scripture calls us to pray without ceasing (I Thessalonians 5:17). It’s something each of us can do. It’s powerful and it’s empowering. It takes us from a place of defense to a place of offense.

We have a Savior who came into the world for the very task of destroying the work of the devil (1 John 3:8). We have a God who hears us when we pray. And pray we must. Prayer is our most powerful weapon against the devil’s schemes.

When the Israelites journeyed through the desert on their way to the Promise Land, God led them with a flame of fire and hemmed them in behind with a holy cloud. When they built the tabernacle, the cloud of His presence inhabited the Tent of Meeting. This cloud was a sign of God’s Protective Presence among His people.

What would happen if we asked God, each and every day, to cover this great nation of ours with His Protective Presence just as He did for the Israelites in the time of Moses?

Each morning, as the sun’s rays hit the eastern edge of Maine and move steadily westward, perhaps we, too, could light up our entire country, region by region, with our prayers.

Imagine it with me: A supernatural cloud of protection blankets the entire East Coast, then wraps itself around our southern beauties, moves steadily northward to our industrious mid-West, unfurls over the plains of the interior, bumps up against the Rocky Mountains, and spills over onto the West Coast. It blows westward across the Pacific Ocean until it covers the islands of Hawaii and envelops the western-most tip of Alaska.

What would it be like to have our entire nation covered with the Almighty’s Presence?

Matthew 18:20 assures us that “where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Could we not expect, then, that God would dwell among a nation bound together in prayer? What would happen if more of us got down on our knees each morning and petitioned the Lord for a day free from violence?

I invite you to join me in daily prayer for the protection of our nation. Our daily litany of hope could sound something like this:

“Dear Sovereign Lord, please bless our nation with a day be free from violence. 

“We pray that you, Oh Lord, would post your mighty angels around every place where people gather. May your angels shield us from all evil.

“We pray for our fellow Americans who own guns, that they would use their firearms judiciously, with skill and with care, never forgetting the power they wield. 

“May we never turn our firearms upon ourselves or others in our moments of deepest despair. 

“Help us to see those who are hurting, lonely, and in need of friendship and motivate us to reach out and love them.

“We pray for our policymakers in Washington DC and in every state legislature. May they be unified in a selfless desire for the betterment of our nation. Grant them discretion and wisdom to make sound laws that would guarantee our freedoms while protecting our communities. Infuse them with creativity to find new solutions to persistent problems.

“Protect us, Oh Lord. Be our Great Defender. Have mercy on us this day. Amen”

For me, going before God’s throne with this petition each morning gives me courage to move confidently into each day, trusting that God is at work on our behalf.

And that frees me from fear and allows me to enjoy the music of living.

 

 

 

photo credit/Pixbay

About Laura Peterson
Laura is a travel writer turned fiction writer who sees God’s creative hand in the rich tapestry of cultures around the world. She worked as a travel writer and managing editor for The Best Places to Kiss series (Beginning Press) before the US Navy sent her family on a three-year adventure to southern Japan. Her work-in-progress is a middle-grade historical novel set in seventeenth-century Japan. Connect with her on Facebook: laura.j.peterson.author, Instagram: laura.j.peterson, or her website: laurajpetersonauthor.com. You can read more about the author here.
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TRENDING AT PATHEOS General Christian
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Iain Lovejoy

    Yup. “Thoughts and prayers” will work this time, for sure.

  • Dave Again

    By all means pray. It’s the least you can do. But it might help to check in with John Howard and the late, great Tim Fischer for their advice

  • BillClintonsShorts17

    Personally, I worry far more about losing loved ones to idiots misusing automobiles.

  • rationalobservations?

    There are two options for Americans who wish to remove themselves and their kids from the very real threat of being killed by a fellow citizen with a freely available fire arm designed only for the purpose of killing.
    1) Migrate to the UK in which no school shooting or other mass shooting has occured since extreme gun control measures were introduced after the first mass shooting occurred decades ago.
    2) Adopt the same extreme gun control measures to ensure that all of America’s homicidal maniacs, punk kids, home grown terrorists and
    murderous punk kids no longer have the ease of massacring you they currently enjoy.

    A period of amnesty when everyone hands in their weapons for complete destruction and the training of specialist firearms police followed by a shoot to kill policy for any unauthorized citizen with a gun is harsh – but not so harsh as the loss of a precious child at school or a family member slaughtered when enjoying a music festival in Vegas?

  • rationalobservations?

    Automobiles are not designed for murder.
    Guns are.
    Big difference.

  • BillClintonsShorts17

    Death is death.
    No difference.

  • BillClintonsShorts17

    So you are going to use men with guns to hunt down men with guns.

    The Irony. It burns, Precious, it burns!!!

  • BillClintonsShorts17

    In 2017 403 people in the U.S. were killed with rifles. In the same year about 3500 people drowned.

    Firearms are useful tools, especially for the old and weak who live in the country far from help. Granny with an AR-15 is a match for a group of thugs. Without the AR-15 she is just another victim.

    England before 1900 had no ‘gun control’, and was a very safe place. And now? Full of thugs who don’t hesitate to break into a person’s home while they are there. And if the homeowner should defend himself with any kind of weapon – what horror!! – the police will arrest the homeowner. England is FUBAR and I would not want to live there.

  • rationalobservations?

    Only the very few lunatics and criminals who retain or obtain firearms have anything to worry about from highly skilled and extensively trains firearms specialists who have made the UK a near gun free society. Worth noting that a recent London terrorist attack was by murderers armed with Ava and knives. Well disciplined police killed the terrorist within 8 minutes of their attack. The routine mass shooting in America no longer happens in nations with extremely strict gun control.

    The acceptance of mass murder of American citizens by American citizens you support appears bizarre and barbaric.

  • Jason Horton

    Funny how I’ve lived in England all my life and nobody has ever tried to break into my home. More importantly nobody has ever shot up the schools my children attended, marched into a McDonalds with a rifle, taken a handgun into a church, or anything like that.

    The last mass shooting we had was in 1996, 23 years ago. The last one the US had was on Sunday with two more the day before. As Christians are often fond of saying, “remove the beam out of your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

  • Jason Horton

    Thoughts and prayers are about as effective as doing absolutely nothing. If you want to protect people from gun violence then sort your gun laws out or elect people who will.

  • BillClintonsShorts17

    Your particular experience does not falsify the statistics. Y’all have a real problem with ‘hot burglaries’. And Heaven help you if you are the least bit ‘violent’ in defending yourselves. Just look at the incident in the Tube in London the other day. The Police are now trying to identify for prosecution the people who pulled the idiot protestors off the top of the trains. ‘Justice’, English LeftProg style.

    You had no mass shootings in 1896. Neither did we.

    What changed?

  • BillClintonsShorts17

    We see that the UK is becoming a freedom free society. We rule ourselves here. We rule the government, not the other way around. And in my part of the world a terrorist would most likely be dead within seconds. Nobody in Dallas could saw off someone’s head in a public street unmolested by passers-by.

    So, in the absence of access to firearms, what does the deranged person do? An F-150 pickup truck loaded with 5 gallon glass bottles all filled with petrol. Drive it into your target. Nice and spectacular and puts the lunatic in the news. We even had an individual who flew his airplane into a government office building some time back. Commie sympathizer, fwiw.

    You going to have extremely strict ‘petrol control’? Maybe F-150 control?

    And, in this country it won’t be a ‘…very few lunatics and criminals…’ who retain our arms. There are millions of us who view any attempt to disarm us as equivalent to an attempt to re-enslave our black citizens. Would you expect blacks to submit quietly just because the state passed a ‘law’? Neither will we submit.

  • BillClintonsShorts17

    This could be educational. If you read it.

    http://igeek.com/w/U.S._vs_U.K._-_Crime/Murder

  • SteveVaiFan

    Millions of us who hold the blatant non-sequitur that disarmament is equivalent to re-enslaving black citizens? I would hope not. But I agree that this kind of irrational foolishness is one of the obstacles to creating a more just and whole society in the USA.

  • BillClintonsShorts17

    Deprivation of one’s natural rights is deprivation of one’s natural rights. That you don’t consider self-defense a natural right is telling.

  • BillClintonsShorts17

    The Dunblane massacre could easily have been done without firearms, you know? A big strong man vs a school teacher and a class of small children? All he needed was a three foot length of re-bar. The image repulses me, as I am sure it does you, but one needs to get into the mind of the evildoers if one intends to stop them.

    Did the government take action to ensure that anyone presenting themselves at a school was properly vetted? That would do more to ensure childrens’ safety than hysterical campaigns against the particular weapon employed. A truck was used to mow down dozens in France. Trucks are everywhere and easy to steal. Would you suggest a ban on trucks or vetting the type of ‘immigrant’ you accept into your country?

  • Libertarian Jesus Christ

    Prayer? As a Satanist, I already pray to Our Dark Lord but thanks anyway. Take “our” country back? LOL!!!!!

    Praise, Hail Satan!
    Glory be to Satan the Father of the Earth
    and to Lucifer our guiding light
    and to Belial who walks between worlds
    and to Lilith the queen of the night
    As it was in the void of the beginning
    Is now, and ever shall be, Satan’s kingdom without End
    so it is done.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/73758547ab214b86c5acbb892c0252e0e5a080b4753b8b8b7a3dfeae55c1a156.jpg

  • AntithiChrist

    So hard to know just what kind of a Christian you’re dealing with. But if you just let them talk long enough, you can usually tell how far around the bend they’ve taken their faith.

    This one appears to have not had that much experience with numbers or math. Or critical thinking.

    Quick for instance:

    “We have a Savior who came into the world for the very task of destroying the work of the devil (1 John 3:8). We have a God who hears us when we pray. And pray we must. Prayer is our most powerful weapon against the devil’s schemes.”

    In the next sentence the author lays the blame for gun violence at a demon’s feet.

    OK, first off, I’m guessing by Savior we mean “Jesus,” though we could have just as easily referenced any impotent deity ever invented, including Jesus. The numbers are in. If Jesus hasn’t fixed this mess by now and he hasn’t, even after all the prayers already out there from good Christians asking for him to get off his duff and stop the carnage, for some reason, Jesus remains on his divine duff. Earth is still hemorrhaging innocent, gunned-down bystanders.

    So that’s not happening. Since Jesus and prayers don’t work, we may have to move ahead like fully-functioning adults and find our own real-world solutions.

    Neither the devil nor any other invisible boogie man is scheming anything. Humans have been murdering each other since before jesus’ Dad came along and inscribed a very important memo telling everyone to not do that anymore. Followed by several strong examples (floods, genocide, etc) which let everyone figure out that jehovah was really only kidding about all that “no killing” stuff anyway.

    Let’s go with gun laws that work. That’s be the grown up thing to do. We’ve developed all kinds of laws to keep control of harmful OTC medicines, cars, traffic, tons of things.

    Waving our hands to the sky, or murmuring to ourselves while staring at the ground, hands fervently clasped, doesn’t stop easy access to guns. It never will.

    Let’s grow up and take tangible steps, shall we?

  • Iain Lovejoy

    “You had no mass shootings in 1896. Neither did we.

    What changed?”

    The widespread public availability of handheld large magazine automatic and semiautomatic weapons?

  • Iain Lovejoy

    Yeah, I’ve seen the right wing BS article you read to get this junk.
    The first UK legislation restricting firearms requiring a license to hold them out of one’s home was in 1870, and pistols were restricted in 1903. Further restrictions on firearms were introduced in 1920 because of soldiers bringing back guns from WW1. Up until then very few people actually in fact owned firearms and the authorities wanted to keep it that way. Despite the law, the crime rate in fact remained pretty steady until the 1930s and the great depression when it went up a bit. It then started to go down again in the early 1950s, before its meteoric rise between then and the 1990s, following which it has been steadily declining.
    Crime in the US went up in the 20s and down in the 30s (widely attributed to the introduction and ending of Prohibition) and experienced exactly the same rise from the 1950s as the UK, despite everybody’s guns: the only difference being that in the UK vastly few people got killed.
    Explanations for the massive increase in recorded crime pretty much throughout the western world since the 50s have been:
    – more stuff to steal (e.g. car crime)
    – widespread introduction of insurance (people never used to previously bother reporting burglaries), and, above all
    – the rise and rise of the illegal drugs trade.
    The UK’s gun laws have absolutely nothing to do with it.

  • BillClintonsShorts17

    They certainly don’t prevent crime.

  • BillClintonsShorts17

    No.

  • BillClintonsShorts17

    And slowly, slowly, England has become more and more crime ridden.

  • Iain Lovejoy

    Nope. Crime has been going slowly down in the UK since the 1990s. As I said, having actually checked the statistics. You on the other hand are far more keen on making stuff up.

  • Iain Lovejoy

    No one expects gun laws to prevent crime generally, they are there to prevent gun crime specifically, which they do extremely well in the UK, since we have hardly any of it.
    And the BS you made up about gun laws somehow increasing crime remains made up BS, despite your attempt to change the subject.

  • Jason Horton

    We’re talking about guns, not other means of killing people. Guns kill nearly 40,000 Americans each year. They are designed to kill people. Car are not even though there are approximately the same number of vehicular fatalities in the US each year.

    Look at how heavily car use is regulated. Cars need to be insured, tested regularly for safety, licenced to a user, who must pass a test and be regularly assessed when they reach a certain age. There are hundreds of regulations surrounded car use and control. I’m suggesting that there is the same kind of oversight for guns as there are for cars. If anyone is found with an unlicenced firearm it is taken from them and they have to go to court to explain why they had it as a bare minimum.

  • Jason Horton

    What’s a hot burglary? I’ve never even heard the term before.

    Just look at the incident in the Tube in London the other day. The Police are now trying to identify for prosecution the people who pulled the idiot protestors off the top of the trains.

    Good. It was dangerous and irresponsible to do so. I suppose you’d have preferred it if someone shot them instead? Don’t be daft.

    You had no mass shootings in 1896. Neither did we.

    What changed?

    There are more guns than people in the USA today. If you can get old of historical data for 1896 I bet it would show fewer guns.

  • BillClintonsShorts17

    A ‘hot’ burglary is one done while the homeowner is in the house.

    I would not have minded one bit if the operator of the train had just left the station and given the mindless gits the choice of jumping off or being scraped off. You think that ordinary folks ought to stand by and be abused by these passive aggressive loons?

    Both of our countries had more civil societies in 1896. Plenty of weapons available. Sherlock always had a pistol in his pocket.

  • BillClintonsShorts17

    And most of those 40K deaths are suicides. You really think they wouldn’t happen by other means?
    The rules for operating a motor vehicle are basically a joke. Yeah, every driver is supposed to have a piece of paper with all the right boxes checked. If you think all that ensures safe operation, well, you must not get out much.
    If you don’t operate the motor vehicle on public roads you don’t need to do any of this. No license, no tests, no insurance. Sort of the same things applies here to firearms. Keep it at home or carry to the range, no reason for state intrusion. If you want to carry a firearm on your person while going about town, well, there are regulations for that. Testing on the relevant laws and demonstration that the carrier knows safe weapons handing.

  • BillClintonsShorts17

    I don’t make up the statistics: http://igeek.com/w/U.S._vs_U.K._-_Crime/Murder

  • Iain Lovejoy

    I didn’t think you made up the statistics, since you are clearly to stupid and ignorant to do so, but the website has. I’m on a long and boring train ride, so I may as well do something to keep me busy:
    1. Unlike in the US where about 2/3 of murders are committed using firearms, firearms regulation in the UK is irrelevant to the overall murder rate because only 1 in 20 murders are committed using them. Your BS website is using the UK overall murder rates to make fake points.
    2. Your BS website omits all the scales from its graphs to disguise the fact that the overall murder rate in the US is over 4 times that in the UK.
    3. Your BS website includes the usual BS statistic without comment that overall “violent crime” is much higher in the UK than the US. In the UK statistics “violent crime” includes simple assault, whereas the US it includes “aggravated assault” – assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, or with a deadly weapon, and that broadly accounts for the entire difference (simple assault being about 4 times more common than aggravated assault).
    4. Your BS website in its bogus charting of murder rate against firearms legislation omits the last piece of UK firearms legislation in 2007, which coincided with the murder rate being on a downward trend.
    5. In the most obvious piece of utter BS it cites some Florida-only 1992 conceal and carry permit legislation as the big piece of gun legislation in just before the big drop in murder rates from 1993 onwards, while unaccountably omitting the US-wide introduction of background checks on firearms that came in at exactly that point, and the assault weapon ban the following year.
    6. The moron writing the website is using the UK ONS crime statistics for England and Wales and thinks it suspicious these don’t include Scotland and Northern Ireland. Scotland and Northern Ireland have separate court and police services, so their crimes are recorded separately.
    7. Scotland and NI’s murder rate is slightly higher than England and Wales’ in most years, but sometimes drops below it. It is not higher than the US, this is made up BS. Scotland has slightly more guns per head than England and Wales, NI way more.
    7. I have no idea where he got the idea the UK only counts murders when someone is charged. This is made up BS.
    8. His final throw of the dice is, inevitably, to say it’s all because of black people because white people with guns are responsible. He is a racist POS and you quote him because you are, too.

  • Jason Horton

    And most of those 40K deaths are suicides. You really think they wouldn’t happen by other means?

    It is very, very easy to pull a trigger. It is not so easy to climb up somewhere high and jump off or to get a knife and slash your wrists. Furthermore attempted suicide by gun are much more likely to be fatal than other methods. If you cut your wrists or take an overdose you can get help if you change your mind. You can’t do that if your brains are decorating the wall behind your corpse.

    So yes, the suicide rate would absolutely be lower without guns around.

    The rules for operating a motor vehicle are basically a joke.

    Remember that the next time you’re waiting to cross the street or pull out at a junction. All those cars on the road have a minimum level of safety and all those drivers know how to operate their vehicle. Most of them are insured too. The vast majority are wearing seat belts and so are their passengers so if there is a collision they aren’t flung through the windscreen. All regulations that you consider a joke.

    As a bare minimum I would like to see gun owners trained and licenced and weapons securely stored when not in use. I would have these licences renewed at least annually too.

    If you don’t operate the motor vehicle on public roads you don’t need to do any of this.

    If you’re on private property you’re unlikely to encounter a stop sign or pedestrians either.

    If you want to carry a firearm on your person while going about town

    Under no circumstances should this be permitted. It is insane to have armed gunmen wandering the streets.

  • Jason Horton

    A ‘hot’ burglary is one done while the homeowner is in the house.

    Thanks.

    I would not have minded one bit if the operator of the train had just left the station and given the mindless gits the choice of jumping off or being scraped off.

    That would put them in danger of death and would be a completely irresponsible thing to do. Anyone putting lives at risk because they are impatient or pissed off deserves the full measure of the law be put against them.

    You think that ordinary folks ought to stand by and be abused by these passive aggressive loons?

    Yes. Sometimes people do stupid things. Stupidity should not be a death sentence. They can hopefully learn from their mistakes and behave differently in the future.

    Both of our countries had more civil societies in 1896. Plenty of weapons available. Sherlock always had a pistol in his pocket.

    Sherlock Holmes was fictional FFS.

  • Jason Horton

    When the government cut 23,000 police from the streets to save money the expected result is a spike in crime. However, despite recent blips, crime is on an overall downward trend in the UK.

  • BillClintonsShorts17

    Of COURSE S.H. was fictional. The stories do reflect contemporary mores, do they not?

  • BillClintonsShorts17

    In every case in the U.S. where concealed carry laws have been passed crime has gone down. Our stats do not support your opinion.

  • BillClintonsShorts17

    Whether you think it ‘racist’ or not, the fact remains that the small minority of black youths commit crimes far out of proportion to their number. That being due to culture, mostly, and the fact that the culture of black families has been destroyed by the programs instituted by well meaning ‘Progressives’. Raise boys without fathers and you get crime.
    Culture matters. You don’t get Welsh Choir members blowing up little girls at a concert. You do get that with Islamists. Culture.
    And I must say it was fun watching you pick a fight with objective statistics.
    Glad to see you are on a train. Railroads are something Bolivia needs, but lacks. Due to culture, mostly.

  • BillClintonsShorts17

    Yes, we do have traffic rules in the U.S. And traffic there is more orderly compared to Bolivia. Here the ‘rules’, such as they are, are not always followed. Drivers engage in a kind of dance of intimidation to determine who goes next.

    Anyway. My point about rules and regulations with respect to autos was that we still have thousands of idiots out there behind the wheels of lethal machines. The rules and regulations haven’t prevented the thirty to forty thousand deaths we accept every year as the price for the convienience of automobiles.

    Carrying a weapon is a human right, since all humans have the right to defend their persons, and without the proper equipment this becomes in many cases impossible. I have the right to be armed in any place I am allowed to go. And, yes, my rights are frequently violated.

  • Jason Horton

    The stories do reflect contemporary mores, do they not?

    No, not really.

  • BillClintonsShorts17

    Yeah, they usually do. Writers are imbued with the mores of their societies and it shows in their writing.

  • Denise

    This is a great article despite all the comments. Let’s try prayer. It won’t hurt anyone and just might help.