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When Prayer is All You Can Do and It Actually Matters

I used to think “I’ll pray for you” was such an empty phrase. A recognition that I can’t really do anything that will change this situation, but I need to say something, so I’ll say this. It sounded hollow. Self-centered almost. Definitely ineffective. I was in the camp that you must do in order to relieve suffering. And prayer seemed the opposite of doing.

And now on a day when I see houses turned upside down, shaken out and stomped on. When I see schools filled with children, the same ages as my own, trampled with force. When I watch footage of chaos in parking lots as parents try to find kids and kids try to find anyone who looks safe, I know I must do something and something that will move mountains. Something that matches the force of the tornado on the screen.


I’m at home with little people playing in the basement, not hiding in the basement. I’m imagining the sky opening and a storm roaring through that would pick our house off the ground, turn it upside down and shake its contents out. I picture the fear of the kids and the fear of the moms. Oh the moms who want to protect their children and are praying earnestly for someone, something to rescue them all.

And I know I have to join their chorus of prayers. I have to ask the master of the skies to have mercy. I don’t understand why, but I know my heart is breaking and I must do something. Is it that something that I’ll do because I can’t really do anything effective? I don’t think so. Genuine, heart crying out on behalf of other hearts is never lost.

I believe we are heard in our prayer life. Whether the heart wrenching scream of parents in a parking lot, the terrified whispers while hiding under stairs bracing yourself for the storm, or the question prayers of a mother states away watching the news and pleading God have mercy.

Join me if you choose. God have mercy on those still trapped and alive. Allow them to be found and quickly.  God have mercy on those who are exhausted, digging through the rubble. Give them a stamina that crosses human barriers. God have mercy on those who are hearing bad news, life changing news, that will redirect the course of their lives. Let them know they are not alone.

And that’s where the might of prayer comes in. Not alone from our maker. Not alone from each other. Heart to Holy Spirit to heart. United. God have mercy.

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