I assume most of you heard about the massacre in San Bernardino two weeks ago. Fourteen people were killed and twenty-one wounded in a terrorist attack. Within hours of the shootings, a number of conservative politicians used their social media channels to communicate their “thoughts and prayers” for the families of the victims. The Daily News (a newspaper in New York City) printed their front page with pictures and brief passages of praying sound bytes with the headline: “GOD ISN’T FIXING THIS.” The page also included the following: “As latest batch of innocent Americans are left lying in pools of blood, cowards who could truly end gun scourge continue to hide behind meaningless platitudes.”
Setting aside the “innocent” adjective applied to Americans as well as the leading label of a “gun scourge,” the mockery has been called “prayer shaming.” It’s as if the media snorted, “Oh, you’re praying? How ridiculous. What a fool. Why don’t you do something.” It’s trying to embarrass the prayers.
I cannot say for certain that these politicians weren’t posturing. But the Daily News wasn’t accusing them of hypocrisy. I also won’t say that praying is the only and final response. But the purpose of this shaming headline is an attempt to bring believers to their knees before cultural and governmental gods.
Perhaps the biggest shame is that we Christians have prayed so little in front of the world that it’s taken until now to get such clear and negative press. If, as a believer, you have ever lamented that you don’t know “how to make a difference in the culture,” just pray in public and be ready to give an answer for the prayer that is in you. It’s not a good sign that our society wants to pile on the uselessness of praying, but it is a good opportunity to shine as light in the darkness. Prayer is our thing. We can do this! Don’t hide your prayer behind a newspaper.
Be much in private prayer, too, and give up any desire to be rewarded by men. Don’t pray for the photo op, but do pray so plainly and freely and perseveringly and hopefully that others would see your good supplications and glorify God in heaven.