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This is heavy stuff, I shall try to lighten it up a bit, but the recent church shooting and tragedy sparked a few foolish tweets and proclamations that declared, “praying doesn’t work,” a theme that bounced all over the media. The idea being that your prayers won’t save you, so we need more guns or even less guns, as people struggled desperately for answers.

Praying does work, praying is so hugely beneficial it’s hard to even describe. Praying may not save your earthly life, but then again, many earthly lives  have been saved by prayer. Praying doesn’t always stop a mad gunman, but in the back of the Christian mind, a mad gunman does not have the power to stop our “lives” anyway. Our lives are eternal.

It’s a grim reality, but sometimes prayer is really all we got. When it comes to “justice,” once some guy is dead or in jail, you can’t shoot him again. The end of a life is anti- climatic, unsatisfying, and “justice” tends to just ring hollow. What is justice but compensation, restoration? You can’t compensate someone for a loss that great, you can’t restore what has been taken, and I although I haven’t tried it yet, I’m pretty sure that tormenting someone won’t make your soul feel any better either.

When I was a kid, my grandma was kind of my lifeline to the world. She brought me food and shoes and hope. She picked up some hitch hikers one day and they shot her in the head, took her money, and left her to die. I had more than a few arguments with God about the injustice of it all. What kind of a God would let this happen, what kind of God would take the only person in the world I had?

To make it even more painful, she survived the surgeries, the recovery, and I began to have hope again. Then she just died. Hope reared its ugly head only to be snatched away once again. I spent many years trapped in that same script. Don’t ever hope, it just hurts too much.

They caught the bad guys, but since she had survived for a while, it wasn’t a murder charge. By the time they got done with the plea bargains and suspended sentences, the men who took her life, the men who left me stranded and alone in the world, spent only a few months in jail. They had stolen from me, destroyed more than they could even imagine, and they didn’t even care. I had so little already and those men took even that away from me.

So as a kid I wanted to shoot them, and today I totally empathize with those kind of  feelings, but then what? You can’t shoot them again. I totally wanted them locked up forever, but then what? The truth is nothing would bring my grandma back and nothing could fix what had been taken away. Prayer was all I had, prayer and yelling at God. He is ever so patient too, because I have read Him the riot act a few times, and all He has ever done is gently lead me one step at a time, all the way to understanding and eventually, to forgiveness.

God is unbelievably good.

He has met me in the midst of some real atrocities, in the midst of prayer so many times. I don’t have all the answers, I don’t know why evil things happen, but I do know that prayer works, that prayer saves, that when prayer is all you got, you realize it is everything.

Prayer gave me justice. Prayer gave me restoration. It changes everything. Prayer brought me healing, and the Lord brought me His peace and comfort. There is no justice on earth like that, nothing that compares, nothing that we ourselves can do.

Prayer works, prayer is where we can find that Still Quiet Voice of victory that says, forgive them Father for they know not what they do.