Can prayer help in the face of large-scale disasters?

In past years most readers will have seen graphic images of destructive earthquakes in Soviet Armenia and northern California and of hurricane Hugo ramming through the Caribbean and slamming the southeastern coast of the United States. Don't we find, when facing pictures of such stark and utter need, a powerful desire rising in us? We feel compassion. We want to help in some way. We feel renewed gratitude for the humanitarian organizations that enable us to contribute to the very tangible aid they bring to survivors. But we may feel we want to do more.

What about reaching out to God in prayer? Sure, but if we're feeling caught up in the darkness and intensity of human tragedy, we may wonder if prayer is strong enough to liberate us—to say nothing of actually affecting the disaster itself or the people who are left struggling in its wake.

Although we may not feel it very strongly at such a moment, something else silently assures us that it is possible to pray—to shut down the carousel of doubtful confusion and to experience something of the all-encompassing reality of God. Such prayer begins in the depths of the human heart, where underneath the tangled uncertainties and preoccupations there is this desire—this spiritual hunger—impelling a reaching out to God.

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The "intensive care" God gives us
July 9, 1990

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