‘Thoughts and prayers’: beyond cliché to effective response

Adapted from an article published in The Christian Science Monitor, November 24, 2017.

“Thoughts and prayers.” This sentiment often permeates social media following tragic events. But recently, I’ve also noticed statements denouncing these words and calling for “real action”—or even, at times, retaliation—instead. In the wake of violent acts, responding with despair, fear, or hate is certainly understandable. I, too, have at times shaken my head and scrolled past messages of “thoughts and prayers,” feeling they had become cliché.

Still, I have seen the effectiveness of prayer in my own life and heard of countless examples spanning centuries and continents. So, recently, I’ve been considering how I can actively respond to the call for thoughts and prayers, and how this actually can help break cycles of hate and irrational thinking that cause individuals to commit horrendous acts.

Perhaps no one dealt with hate more effectively and courageously than Christ Jesus. He challenged laws that promoted hostility and revenge and instead taught us to respond with love and prayer: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).

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What it means to be spiritual
January 29, 2018

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