There was an outpouring of frustration this week at the many “thoughts and prayers” that were offered in the wake of the massacre in Las Vegas. “Thoughts and prayers do nothing,” tweeted Kaitlyn Wilde. As I considered this criticism of prayer I tried to reconcile it with something Karl Barth once said, “Prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.” Wilde was making an understandable plea for more gun control; but I had to admit that even the best gun control laws are powerless to change or control the human heart. Without discounting the value of regulating or even outlawing the sale and possession of automatic weapons, or the importance of thorough background checks, there is evidently a moral and spiritual crisis, a tragic sickness of the heart and mind that no law can cure. When life means so little to someone that he will take 58 innocent lives and injure 489 more with cold-hearted impunity, that person has lost the fear of God, and drifted light years from God’s kingdom. Some say the answer is a moral revolution and others a gun control revolution…but it is self-evident that neither can succeed without the other. Paul argued that a just ruler is appointed to restrain evil (Rom. 13: 3-4) but that each of us is personally responsible to overcome evil with good (Rom. 12: 21). In that spirit, I want to offer my prayers today for our country, trusting that Karl Barth was right, and that the place to begin a revolution is on our knees. Would you join me?
Gracious God, we are stunned and saddened at the mass shootings in Las Vegas which have become commonplace in our nation. Violence and indifference has been sown in so many hearts, and we are reaping what has been sown. Hold back the hands that kill and maim and turn around the hearts that hate. Make us agents of healing and help to those whose minds are imprisoned by destructive thoughts and who have lost all hope or compassion. May we not return evil for evil, but overcome evil with a revolution of good. Grant us now your strong Spirit of peace – peace that passes our understanding but changes lives, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.