Tag Archives: Orlando shooting

Why “Praying for You” Isn’t a Pointless Cliche

Photo credit: Danny Rivero/Fusion

Photo credit: Danny Rivero/Fusion

The recent horrific shooting in Orlando once again forces us to grapple with what we can and should do in the face of tragedy. And for many Christians, prayer is a reflexive response.

Increasingly, however, the idea of praying for those involved in a tragedy is dismissed by those critical of Christianity and religion. Offering someone your prayers is useless, they say, a cliché so threadbare that we’d all be much better off if it never again polluted conversations and social media. What we need is action, not words.

My first inclination is to fire off a strong rebuttal. But I’ve come to realize that my own perspective on prayer isn’t always that different. Yes, I often pray for the people involved when I hear of terrible events like Orlando, just like I routinely pray for those close to me who are dealing with various kinds of suffering and difficulty. But I often feel like it’s a kind of formality, like nothing much will come of it. And if I really wanted to help, I’d need to take concrete action. I’d need to do something something genuinely useful.