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I’m weary, TGIF, but it’s not the work week that has worn me down, it’s the relentless marathon of grief and suffering, one right after another. Pray for Paris, pray for Orlando, pray for Dallas, pray for Nice, pray for Turkey….

There’s nothing wrong with praying for people impacted by these atrocities. By all means pray and show your solidarity, and let people know you care. It’s just that prayer is powerful, prayer changes things, prayer can heal. Prayer is not the powerless routine answer to grief and tragedy. Prayer is not just a helpless response to endless violence. Prayer is not just a sympathy card one sends.

Prayer is powerful and I wonder sometimes if we’re trivializing that.

One reason why we pray one for another, up close and personal, is because we can see our prayers in action, we can let people know they are loved, we can feel the power there. Hebrews 10:25 says, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”

“Exhorting,” it means to strongly encourage or urge. That is yet another benefit that comes from praying for each other, not on a vast global scale, not from place of helplessness and despair, but up close and personal, intimately, specifically. Locally, right here and now, in a way that shows us the evidence and power of prayer, that allows us to bear witness to the fruit of the spirit. Intimacy.

Prayer is really not a hashtag  or clicking like on facebook and sometimes I worry that we’re all starting to believe it is. It’s not just an endless parade of candle light vigils or a sympathy card we can send to the whole world, like a token expression of our sense of powerlessness and frustration.