I have read several articles and blogs by people who are outraged about prayers for Oklahoma tornado victims and are calling for the people who pray to actually do something. They don’t seem to realize that many of the people who volunteer or send donations and the organizations that show up to help are indeed Christian or representatives of other religious groups. People who pray often move to act after the prayer. Christians, in fact, affirm that “faith without works is dead” (James 2:17). James castigated those who told the poor to be “warm and well-fed,” but offered them no clothing or food. In the aftermath of a disaster, people contribute in various ways. First responders rush to the scene. Crisis management teams arrive behind them. Aid organizations and volunteers follow. People who cannot help physically send donations, or if they are government leaders, dedicate funding for disaster recovery. Everyone may choose to pray. Critics that I mentioned earlier especially criticized entertainers and politicians who had tweeted that they were praying for Oklahoma. Prayer enlists the aid of the divine. It also focuses the thoughts of the one who offers the prayer. Prayer calms the person who prays. When people learn that others pray for them, they often feel relief as well. On the other hand, none of us controls how God answers prayer. In fact, if biblical passages like Psalms 10 and 13 are any indication, we may protest what we think God is doing. On other occasions, when rescue arrives when it seemed there was no hope, we sink to our knees in gratitude. No one can prevent another from praying silently, frustrating though that may be to some people. And as long as there are disasters, people will pray. They pray, not because they arrogantly presume that God will do their bidding, but because they yearn for help to accomplish what seems impossible. If we say that we pray, we should act with integrity. We should not say that we are praying when we do not pray. No one has to pray in our country, but many of us choose to do so, because we believe that the Creator of the universe still controls what happens. The anti-prayer critics do have a right to express their opinions in the United States, but those whom they criticize have a right to pray.
David Brassfield preaches at the Newalla church of Christ. He writes:
“I wanted to update everyone on the storms that went through here yesterday. Our house, property, and wits are intact. Well, at least 2 of the 3 are. We have been without power since late yesterday afternoon. But, power has been restored to the church building, so we have hopes we will have electricity before the day is over. The following concerns fellow Christians who were not so fortunate.”
A previous report from David:
“I have an update on storm damage: Darrel & Dottie Hinson (former members here, now members at Tecumseh) lost the roof off their barn and their house was moved 4 feet off its foundation. Dottie was at Darrel’s dad’s house when it happened. Darrel was home and had been warned by a call from one of their daughters of the tornado’s approach, so he hid in the barn. . . . in their new oil pit. Neither of them was injured. We heard that the old church of Christ building in Tecumseh on Highland Ave. may have suffered extensive damage.
Former members, Pam & Gene Beller, suffered the worst loss of all we know right now. Pam’s brother, David Patterson, was killed as he, Gene, Gene’s son Randy and Randy’s son were unloading a travel trailer. The word we got is that Gene was blown into the ditch, Randy and his son were OK, but the trailer rolled over onto David, killing him instantly. Pam & Gene’s barn was flattened and their house suffered roof damage. Pam & Gene’s daughter and her husband live just west of them and had extensive damage to their house. They think it may not be salvageable.
The Ashfords (members of the church in Midwest City who live near the Bellers) also lost their home. At this time, the police are not allowing anyone into the area unless they can show proof that they live there. This was 5 1/2 miles west and 2 miles south of our home. We were blessed that none of our members at Newalla (to our knowledge yet) has suffered damage or loss from yesterday’s outbreak of tornados. I’ll be calling around today to make sure.”