How can we respond to news of repeated, horrifying violence? And how can we make a difference when the problems behind the violence feel impossibly complicated? No one told us our phones and other devices would give us front-row seats to constant pain. But again and again, we find ourselves glued to our screens, scrolling through updates on the latest tragedy. It’s natural to wonder, how do I pray in response to pain and violence? And is there anything else I can do?
Hate-fueled violence can make us feel helpless. But while we grieve senseless deaths, we can also take steps toward meaningful change. Jesus invites us to partner with him in bringing heaven to earth, which means we can be more than problem-watchers. We can be a part of solving problems.
So how do we start? Below, you’ll find a prayer in response to pain and violence. But this prayer is only one way we can respond to crises, day after day. So before we get to the prayer, let’s look at a few more ways we can create meaningful change in our community and world.
We let it hurt.
We all want to avoid pain. So we often distract ourselves, numb our pain, or drift toward cynicism. But if all of us ignore the problems behind tragedies, nothing will change. Instead of avoiding pain, let’s embrace it and let empathy fuel meaningful action to reduce future tragedies.
Sometimes it’s tempting to play armchair strategist and think we have all the answers. But often, the people closest to the tragic situation have the best perspective on what needs to change. Imagine you’re experiencing a personal tragedy. Whose advice would be most helpful—trusted friends, or strangers on the internet? Instead of making assumptions and sharing opinions, let’s lay down our preferences so we can humbly listen to hurting people.
We take meaningful action.
When a problem seems too big to solve, it can be easy to feel helpless and hopeless. But here’s the good news: You don’t have to solve all of the world’s problems alone. Instead, pick one problem you’re passionate about. Then, find people in your community working toward meaningful action. Remember those devices that can be front-row seats to constant pain? They can also connect us with others working toward hope and healing.
Lament is a pain-filled prayer in response to trauma. It’s a common (but often ignored) type of writing in the Bible. Laments express pain, sadness, and doubts about God. They remind us that sadness isn’t sinful and that expressed grief can be a form of worship. As we face the latest tragedy, will you pray and live out this prayer?
A Prayer in Response to Pain and Violence
Father, have mercy on us.
We come to You with broken hearts, knowing that You draw near to us in our grief.
Please comfort all who are hurting, by Your power and through Your people.
We need Your hope, and we lack the words to make this right.
Will You reveal to us any ways we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves?
Will you show us when we have not seen our neighbors as made in Your image?
Together, we repent for any times we have chosen our way over Your love.
We realize we won’t always get this right.
So we ask for Your Holy Spirit to help us reflect Your heart.
Give us the wisdom to know what to do and the courage to do it.
Help us receive Your kindness and compassion and extend it to others.
Lead us to listen, love, and act.
In Jesus’ name, amen.
For more on how to create meaningful change in your community, check out these Bible plans.