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Whenever there is a tragedy, especially a tragedy of the magnitude that occurred last night, there is an outpouring of thoughts and prayers going to the victims, their families, and all affected. With those thoughts and prayers, there are also individuals who take offense to the act of prayer. They say things like “they don’t need your thoughts and prayers, they need help” or “we are always told to pray instead of doing something helpful.”
Whether or not we believe in God or the power of prayer is not the point. Strangers around this country are trying to say that they are hoping for the best outcome possible and that the victims somehow find strength in this trying time. Their words may not help you, but if that is all they can offer then we should be thankful. It is an act of kindness and we should always be thankful for that, especially in today’s divisive climate.
It takes empathy to appreciate the prayers of a stranger, especially if you aren’t a man or woman of faith. I would ask those who get mad at the gesture to look at it from the perspective of the one doing the praying. They view prayer as one of the most important practices in life. It is how they communicate with their Creator and reach eternal life.
When someone says they are praying for us or someone else, our response should not be to roll our eyes. Even if we do not believe that prayer has meaningful power, we can be empathetic to their belief and thankful for the love they are trying to convey.
A world without God to give people faith that all their suffering is not meaningless is a nightmare. A world without religion means a world without any systematic way of ennobling people… A world without heaven or hell is a world without any ultimate justice, where torturers and their victims have identical fates.
-Dennis Prager, from his book Still The Best Hope
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