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Too often, when we turn on our phones, TVs, and computers, we are met with news of yet another mass shooting or act of senseless mass violence. These tragic outbreaks of violence remind us that we live in a lost and broken world. But as people of faith, we know that this broken world is also so loved by God. We pray that our churches—and all churches across the world—will continue to be seen as places of refuge, of love, and of hope, rather than places of fear. We seek God’s guidance as we try to make sense of these tragedies and respond as Christ would. We pray for the future of our nations and for our integrated life together.

Prayer of lament for mass shootings

Lord, in our shock and confusion, we come before you.
In our grief and despair in the midst of hate,
in our sense of helplessness in the face of violence,
we lean on you.

For the families of those who have been killed we pray.
For the shooters—help us to pray, Lord.
For the communities that have lost members—their anger, grief, fear—we pray.
For the churches striving to be your light in darkness beyond our comprehension, we pray.

In the face of hatred, may we claim love, Lord.
May we love those far off and those near.
May we love those who are strangers and those who are friends.
May we love those who we agree with and understand,
and even more so, Lord, those who we consider to be our enemies.

Kyrie Eleison. Lord, have mercy.
Heal our sin-sick souls.
Make these wounds whole, Lord.

Prayer adapted from the Christian Reformed Church Office of Social Justice; used with permission.

Prayer for mass violence

Lord, we are bewildered.
More violence? Another mess of blood and debris on the screen?
We haven’t yet recovered from the last.

Some of us are paralyzed with fear.
We hear about bombs and guns and death, and our throats close up in terror.
We fear for our own lives, for the lives of our children and our children’s children.
We don’t know what has happened to the world we thought we knew.

We who fear confess our fear and ask for your forgiveness.
Fill us with your love, for your perfect love casts out fear.
You are with us. Your rod and your staff—they comfort us.

And we pray for the people whose lives are truly endangered,
who have more cause to fear.
Would you make safe havens for them?
Would you lead them out of the valley of the shadow of death
and into places of light and life?

Some of us are incensed with hatred.
The wars and rumors of war incite us to start our own.
Our instinct is to be overcome by evil, to take vengeance into our own hands.

We who hate confess our hate and ask for your forgiveness.
Warm our hearts with compassion and help us pursue peace.
Grant us your wisdom as we seek your kingdom
by turning our cheek and walking another mile.

And we pray for the people whose hatred has led to death.
As you did with the apostle Paul, would you encounter them on the road?
Would you, with your very presence,
transform threats and murder into lives lived for you?

Some of us just feel numb.
The rising death tolls spin past our eyes, but our hearts no longer read them.
Years of images of violence have dulled our senses.
Another incident? We don’t even flinch anymore.

We who are numb confess our numbness and ask for your forgiveness.
Sharpen our senses. Cause us to care,
even if that means feeling the pain of heartbreaking sadness.
Teach us empathy. Help us weep with those who weep.

And we pray for the people who weep.
Would you be their consolation?
You know the pain of betrayal, of abandonment, of death.
Would you heal wounds of all kinds?
Would you also—someday—give them cause to laugh?
On that day, we will laugh with those who laugh.

Lord of all, gather us up—your creatures, your world—
and bring an end to the violence.
Come, Lord Jesus.

Amen.

Written by Grace Claus