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.

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