Do Prayers Help?

Do Prayers Help?

Written by:
David A. Riggs,
Director of Chaplain Support Services

     When any tragic event hits our nation, social media lights up with words like, “our thoughts and prayers” are with you who are affected by this event.  As we approach the National Day of Prayer on Thursday, May 2, I want you, the reader, to consider the question above.  Do prayers help?  From the responses I have read by many politicians, to the phrase “our prayers are with you”, it appears that they either do not believe in prayer or consider it ineffective to help.  One political figure posted an angry response that said, “we don’t need or want your prayers, we want action.”  To view prayer as inaction and ineffective, is to totally misunderstand the nature of God and His involvement in this world, and especially His love for all people.  That’s right God loves people!  For people of faith, prayer is central to our understanding of God.  Volumes of books have been written to help us understand the value of this spiritual discipline in our lives.  There is an often-overlooked passage in the Bible which I believe signals a turning point for humanity. It reads like this, “Seth also had a son, and he named him Enosh. At that time people began to call on the name of the Lord.” (Genesis 4:26) This question about the value of prayer cannot be answered without asking another very important question.  Does God care?  I can answer that question with one word…Jesus!  God cares so much that He entered into our suffering to help us deal with it.  Whether you believe in prayer or not.  The fact that someone, somewhere, is taking the time to think about you is both beneficial and therapeutic.                                                           

     For most of our nation’s history, prayer has been invoked by all branches of our government. Even those who were considered non-religious, often called the nation to a time of prayer in hopes that it would unify and inspire courage.  It was Harry S. Truman who called the nation together for a day of prayer on July 4, 1952.  Every year after that, our country has observed this day in their own way.  The National Day of Prayer was moved to the first Thursday in May by President Ronald Reagan and has been proclaimed every year since.  This year on May 2nd people all across America will once again gather to ask God for direction and help.  Jesus said, “that men should always to pray and not give up.” (Luke 18:1) I encourage you to find a way to participate in this special day of prayer.  Participating can be as simple as pausing for a moment of silence and reflection, providing our residents with a prayer devotional, or having a special prayer gathering somewhere on campus for those who want to honor this day.   Meister Eckhart said “If the only prayer you ever say is thank you, it will be enough.”  On May 2, 2024 let’s at least say thank you!                                                                      

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