I heard of the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut as I was driving. I had no words. I turned around and looked in the back seat at my two preschoolers and I grieved for those families who would not be able to do so again. Silence is an appropriate prayerful response, and it's needed now. There are no words that can fit just right. Perhaps praying without words in response to these shootings is the best way for us to mourn with those who are mourning, to give our attention to the God who promises to comfort the broken hearted and eventually set everything right, and to increase our awareness of what's going on in our world and in our own souls.
Silence is good and needed, but when I heard the news I wanted some words, though it has taken me a few days to find them. So below are two other prayers. The first is in someone else's words, the second in my own.
I dug several places trying to find a prayer with roots, which also seemed suitable to what I longed to pray but had no words. I found some good things, including this from The United Methodist Book of Worship:
Everliving God, in Christ's resurrection you turned the disciples' despair into triumph, their sorrow into joy. Give us faith to believe that every good that seems to be overcome by evil, and every love that seems to be buried in death, shall rise again to life eternal; through Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you for ever more. Amen.
And one in my own words:
Living, loving Father,
In this season, as we remember Jesus' coming and look forward to his reappearing, as we are reminded of the promise of Immanuel, God with us, with heavy hearts we give you thanks that you are with all of us at all times. You are with us now as we pray this prayer. You are with every family that is grieving such a tragic loss. You were with those whose lives were lost, you are with them now, lovingly caring for them, and you will be with them forever.
God, we cannot understand this. We pray that your kingdom would come and your will would be done on earth as in heaven, so that all senseless suffering in the world may end and that you would finally fully be our King, reigning in relentless peace and goodwill. Come to us again, and set things right.
Until that day when Christ reappears, make our hearts like yours. Help us to defend those who have no defenders. Give us the eyes to identify evil and injustice in the world around us and the courage to confront it. Move us with your kind of compassion so that we may do good to everyone in every way.
Even in the face of tragedy, may the seeds of hope that spring from Jesus' resurrection continue to grow in us along with the joy and peace which we both celebrate and long for this time of year.
[This is the 8th post from A Year of Living Prayerfully.]