There’s been a loud reaction against political leaders who say they are sending prayers for victims of violence and their families in recent news reports. It’s unfortunate that this has become a clique. Praying should never be confused with doing nothing, but in our fractious society it’s now associated with a lack of effective action and even with a lack of real care. Nothing is farther from the truth.
The Pew Research Center has identified the large number of Americans who pray regularly (https://www.pewforum.org/religious-landscape-study/frequency-of-prayer/). Many clients who seek psychotherapy come with a Christian perspective and struggle to relate the strengths of their faith tradition to their everyday problems. When the public discourse is so divided and the political right claims Christian perspectives while defending inaction against violence like school shootings in the name of freedom, it is a psychological crisis as well as a civil tragedy. For psychotherapists such national events and discord come directly into treatment sessions and conversations about anxiety and stress increase. To frustrate matters, when prayer is bantered about as a glib clique, a source of help is weakened. Neurologically prayer has proven benefits so don’t stop praying. Don’t stifle your desire to find a faithful path through a troubling world. There’s still ample reason to hope through difficult emotional days. Take all the trouble into your conversation with God and with your therapist. Honest engagement with doubt, anger, and fear can lead to unexpected relief and to greater understanding in spite of the false doctrines spread through our current political dialogue. In tragedy, we pray because we seek needed comfort. It comes in surprising ways. Prayer isn’t a release from taking action; it is path to it. Light dawns.
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