In the direct aftermath of yet another senseless mass killing, the idea of prayer came under fire by those who obviously have trouble believing in its powers.
Mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, left at least 49 people dead and 20 more injured on Friday. As is the case any time a horrific incident occurs, those with a conscience and a belief in God offered their thoughts and prayers for the victims and their grieving families.
Except, don’t mention “prayer” anywhere within earshot of a skeptical or cynical unbeliever. To them, it’s belittling and insulting.
I’ve got news for those who deride the idea of “thoughts and prayers.” Prayer works, and to think otherwise is to actually encourage more evil in the world.
Jesus came to earth and instructed his followers to pray. All throughout the gospels, we see his example of prayer. God seeks communion with his children, and to avoid it is essentially to pull away from God. And pulling away from God, the giver of life, is encouraging death and evil to take his place.
Let me dive a little deeper into scripture as it addresses evil and prayer in our world today.
What the Bible says about evil and about prayer
Evil lurks around every curve of the globe (1 John 5:19). You cannot run from it; you must fight it (Ephesians 6:11). You cannot succumb to it; you must overcome it (Romans 12:21). You cannot display apathy toward it; you must hate it (Psalm 97:10). For the world that God created was good (Genesis 1:31), it was free of wickedness and evil (Psalm 5:4), but selfish men corrupted it (Genesis 6:5).
Humans think they know what is right (Proverbs 21:2), but without God it is futile (Proverbs 14:12). Our actions have led us astray (Isaiah 53:6) and have separated us from him (Isaiah 59:2). We rely on the feelings of the heart (Jeremiah 17:9), but ignore what is wise (Proverbs 12:15). We trust our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5) instead of fearing the Lord (Proverbs 3:7). We indulge in the pleasures of the world (1 John 2:15-17), and seek worldly gratification (Galatians 5:19). But we must cease with the desires of the flesh (Ephesians 5:15-19) and instead walk by the Spirit of God (Galatians 5:16).
But fear not! Although we experience troubles, we can overcome (John 16:33). Those who submit themselves to God will conquer evil (James 4:7), for those born in God will overcome the world (1 John 5:4-5). Cast all your fears and anxieties on God (Philippians 4:6), because He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7). We don’t need less prayer (Luke 18:1), but more of it (Romans 12:12). Pray continually (Colossians 4:2) and earnestly (Matthew 6:7). Pray for your enemies (Matthew 5:44) and for protection from evil (John 17:15). Pray for yourself (John 15:7) and pray for each other (James 5:16). Pray to avoid sin and temptation (Matthew 26:41) and pray for wisdom (James 1:5). Pray for anything and everything and everyone (Ephesians 6:18), for this is the will of God (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
And lastly, pray that the message of God spreads throughout the world, which is sick and in need of healing (2 Thessalonians 3:1-3).
Mankind’s wickedness and evil ways taint the pages throughout the entire Bible. Likewise, prayer is effusively referenced almost as much. There is a direct correlation between prayer and evildoings.
No, that doesn’t mean that just because you don’t pray, you will necessarily commit acts of evil.
However, not praying is distancing yourself from God. And by definition, pushing away from God is pulling closer to the evil one.
People of this world need more prayer and better relations with God. Not less of it.