Why I Pray

Yesterday, our world was rocked by terror as men stormed the streets of Paris in a deadly rampage that left over a hundred individuals dead and thousands living in fear. I saw reports through social media as I headed out with my grandparents for dinner. My first response, like many others, was to say a silent prayer. As we returned several hours later, and saw the extent of the terror on the news, I joined hundreds of others through the hashtag #PrayforParis.

But the simple fact is that the events in Paris was not the only event that rocked the world. The earthquake that rocked Japan. Bombings at a funeral in Baghdad. Suicide bombers in Beirut. And another earthquake and a hurricane in Mexico. I have seen reports that over 115,000 individuals died yesterday in these events.

Let us not forget about the 147 individuals killed in the recent attack on Garissa University Collage in Kenya. Or the countless other, smaller acts of terror that happen each and every day around the world.

Today, I saw Social Media filled with support for the victims of these attacks and events around the world. But I also saw an ugly side of this phenomenon.

I saw several individuals and articles attacking the use of the hashtag #PrayforParis. “We don’t need more religion!” they shouted. One of my friends stated “… religion is the cause of this evil, all religions and not just radical Islam, are a plague on our society.” Others have stated that our status posts and updated profile photos in the colors of the French flag were hollow gestures and and insincere acts. They stated that while our prayers may be sincere, our validation of those prayers through social media are destructive and disingenuous.

And despite these remarks, I still believe that prayer is our most powerful weapon in this war of terror that has spread throughout our world.

I pray because the world needs peace and love, not more violence. Yes, I want these individuals to pay for their actions, but right now, we must support the survivors of these tragedies. If this means prayer, then I will pray. If this means holding the bloody hand of a victim after their blood has been shed, I would do that. If I could, I would be among the first responders. But the simple fact is that I am not there. Right now, my prayers and vocal support are the most powerful act that I have available to me.

The act of praying may not have any scientific proof behind them, but I have seen the power of that support. I saw it firsthand in Joplin and in the depths of Uganda and Togo. By expressing and sharing that we have prayed and are praying in a response to these events, survivors know that they have our support, that we are standing with them in their time of need.

You may not be able to see the affects of these prayers. You may not be able to measure them. But they are there.

When individuals state that our prayers are hollow and meaningless, I smile because I know otherwise. When they belittle us, saying that our status posts are insincere, I am reminded that they do not know the individual that is behind the screen.

I had two friends within the stadium in Paris. They know that I was praying for them and the city that they have come to love. And our voices would not be heard if it were not for the power of social media.

I pray because these prayers are an act of love that is more powerful in the long run, than the terror that fell upon us last night. I pray because I know that every voice counts. And I share my prayers because I know that someone will see it and will be lifted up out of darkness. But there are so many prayers that remain unspoken and hidden within the depths of my heart.

I will continue to pray every single day for love to conquer all. For healing to settle upon us. For a time when peace allows brothers from all faiths to embrace one another in acceptance. For the strength to continue on and be a light to a world shrouded in darkness. I will pray with every breath of life through my actions and words, to the best of my abilities.

I pray for the end of terror and fear, but I am not naive enough to believe that things will change without action. And love is my act, the banner in which I rally behind.

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