Why prayer is not enough after Las Vegas.

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Image courtesy of The Washington Post (Salwan George)

After another mass shooting in the USA, we’re left with the same questions and very little in the way of answers. Where do we move from here?

Initially after any mass shooting, we are often so unsure what happened that we cling to anything to give us some sense of, well, sense in all the pain and suffering. Many turn to religion and a hope that God is somewhere in this. That out of this, something good could come.

Thoughts with the families, prayers for those killed and affected. These are two very common themes that we have heard. Where does prayer play into these events? What role does it really have?

At what point does prayer become simply a platitude that really doesn’t mean anything? Even God must be getting a little tired of it all.

When we’ve prayed for this to stop happening every time there is a mass shooting; when do we stop and ask, are our prayers actually being heard? Prayer can often be associated with inaction. We pray that this never happens again, but it does keep happening.

Do we keep praying or do we give up? Or is there something bigger happening that we can’t see?

Prayer is mostly not about changing God’s mind but helping us to align ourselves with something transcendent. It’s about quieting our minds and allowing something spiritual to happen to us. It’s simultaneously giving up control and taking back control. It’s mostly about getting rid of the noise rather than creating more of it. We experience prayer, we don’t try and force it.

There is clear evidence that the USA has a gun problem compared to other countries but yet here we are again.  I wonder if reason or logic has any effect for change. But there is a consciousness problem that means for many, it doesn’t matter about the facts.

This blog won’t persuade anyone to think differently. This blog post is mostly irrelevant. It won’t change anything. If you agree with what I’m saying, fine, if you don’t you’ll probably not be persuaded otherwise.

Today while scrolling Facebook I was about to comment on a post about the need for stricter gun control but I just couldn’t bring myself to. It wouldn’t have changed the mind of the person that I was about to reply to. We don’t like being wrong, none of us do, so changing our minds about something as deeply engrained in American Culture as mass gun shootings will take something more than counter arguments and reasoning.

Time will tell if the biggest gun massacre in US history will be enough to wake us from our collective slumber and take action but when the death of 20 children in Sandy Hook wasn’t enough, there is very little reason to believe that this will be enough.

So viewing prayer in the traditional sense of asking God to stop this, seems almost redundant.

Except, what if we pray for those who seek to maintain their need for guns to be a part of the US culture? Perhaps, when we pray for them to change their hearts and minds we will have a chance. Reasoning is clearly not enough, death is clearly not enough so there needs to be a change in their consciousness that can only be achieved through a miracle.

We of course continue to use our voices to demand change. We can and must never stop that.  The traditional idea of prayer is closing our eyes and asking for things from a God that most of us doubt has any power to do anything about any of this. But prayer is more than this. Prayer requires action too. Without it prayer becomes hollow and empty. We’ve become so used to the idea that God will fix everything magically that we’ve forgotten that sometimes He is asking us to do our part. If prayer is a conversation, then we need to open our ears to hear what God is asking from us.

Action is as much prayer as closing our eyes and speaking to God. So perhaps it’s not that prayer is not effective here, it’s that we’re praying for the wrong things or we’ve missed the point.

We also need to pray and look for a different type of change. Let’s pray that those who profit from gun violence seek a higher understanding. That they come to an enlightenment where they see how they are resisting the very changes that need to prevent these horrible situation ever happening again.

Will we look back at Las Vegas and remember it as the moment when things finally changed or will be view it as just another moment in a multitude of moments of US gun violence?

Almost immediately after a mass shooting, we hear that it is far too soon to be talking about how we can stop this. But as Trevor Noah pointed out, there will never be a good time because these shootings happen so frequently that we are almost constantly in the wake of a mass gun shooting.

So my thoughts are with the families. My prayers are with them too.  We also need to pray that something changes inside those who can’t see that stricter gun control is what is required. Pray that they have their eyes opened not by logic or statistics or comments on a Facebook post, but to life and pain and to a level of deep consciousness and self awareness from within.

It’s like Einstein said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used whe we created them”.

For many today, that will mean coming to a whole new level of consciousness.

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