I’m sick of school shootings. And so is our country.
This is evident by the discussions that always follow mass shootings, like the most recent one in Parkland, Florida. On the one hand, we need to talk about legislation and policies to prevent such violence in the future. But we must remember that most of what is suggested doesn’t deal with the root problem and will ultimately leave those craving an end to gun violence disappointed.
What everyone in our political discussions misses is a fundamental Christian truth: the core problem is the human heart (Romans 1:28–32; Jeremiah 17:9). The world proposes many solutions (including the Olympic sport curling, apparently) that fail to address the problem.
Thankfully, Jesus addresses it. This isn’t a lame Jesus juke, it’s literally the gospel truth. When we believe in Him, He changes our hearts from loving sin and self to loving Him and others. And since this is a gospel issue, we must pray accordingly if we desire true change. Here are five ways to pray:
1. Lord, stop evil people from doing evil things.
“Thoughts and Prayers” won’t make our world perfect, but God still does hear prayer and curtail evil—it just isn’t covered on the evening news. Your prayers might make a liberal angry, but they demonstrate the faith we need to persevere through tough times.
- Pray for school administrators and legislators to have the wisdom to find helpful measures for preventing violence.
- Pray for wannabe shooters to see the evil of these acts and repent.
- Pray for courage and wisdom for law enforcement as they make hard decisions. Pray for weapons to not enter evil hands.
Don’t give up on prayer or underestimate its power (Luke 18:1–8).
2. Lord, may your people look to Christ as the solution before looking to the government or guns.
If your gut reaction to a tragedy like Parkland is to argue politics, you’re doing it wrong. Our gut reaction should be to mourn over lost souls and human evil. It should be to cry out, “Come, Lord Jesus!”
We need to believe the gospel and realize what humans need more than laws or more guns is the forgiveness of Jesus and the transformed hearts only He gives. Laws don’t change hearts. More guns don’t change hearts. Only Jesus changes hearts (Jeremiah 31:31–34). May our prayers (and what we share on Facebook) reflect that.
3. Lord, raise up student evangelists and gospel workers.
If the gospel is the answer, we need bold student evangelists and gospel workers for the vast harvest in public schools. While many bemoan the lack of Bible in our schools, it is legal to hold a Bible study and evangelistic events in a public school—provided a student initiates the activity.
I’ve heard amazing things about the how the organization the National School Project equips students and churches to facilitate evangelistic events in schools. If a student can plan a lunchtime event, draw in classmates (free pizza often helps), and secure a speaker (their pastor is often best), then an amazing (and legal) gospel opportunity presents itself.
Pray for a revival to break out in our public schools. We want many to come to the feet of Jesus Christ in repentant faith—that is the opposite of a mass shooting (Christ brings life; mass shootings bring death). This doesn’t happen on its own. Pray with me for God to raise up gospel workers concerned for this lost generation.
4. Lord, strengthen churches for community engagement.
From eternity past, God has planned for the church to proclaim the gospel and demonstrate His manifold wisdom to the ‘rulers and authorities in the heavenly places’ (Ephesians 3:8–11).
- Pray for God to send out churches for gospel impact and community engagement.
- Pray for faith in the gospel’s power and for innovative ministry opportunities to reach loners enslaved by the devil like the Parkland shooter.
- Pray for open doors and guidance to engage students and faculty with the good news of Christ.
5. Jesus, intercede for our nation and build your church here.
The U.S. is a world leader in gun violence. And while the bad apples don’t speak for the whole of society, we are a sick and idolatrous nation that needs God’s grace. Let’s ask Christ to intercede for our nation and for His church (Hebrews 7:25). Let’s remind Him of His promise to build His church and how the gates of hell can’t prevail (Matthew 16:18). Let’s ask Him to use us in His glorious work of reconciling this sinful world to Himself through the blood of His cross and the power of the resurrection (2 Corinthians 5:18–21). Let’s ask Him to use terrible violence for the eternal good of many.
While these prayers will hopefully prevent some violence, they won’t curtail all evil. Preventing mass shootings isn’t enough if we don’t replace them with the life-giving news of Jesus Christ. Let us remember that while mass shootings bring widespread death, pain, and destruction, the gospel brings life, joy, and peace (John 10:10).