How should Christians respond to a mass shooting? A terrorist attack? Nuclear threats? Sexual harassment? Racism and racial tension? Political unrest? Gun violence?
These are the questions people have consistently asked me over the past few years. I must confess I've asked myself the same questions many times.
We're living through a moment in American life unlike any many of us have seen before. Nearly every week some new controversy erupts, some evil act of violence wrecks our daily routine or some international event fills our minds with images of impending war and catastrophic destruction. In fact, quiet weeks — when life doesn't seem to be spinning out of control — have become an oddity.
Seasons of unrest like the one we're in pit us against the wall and demand we respond to what's going on around us. Some Christians take the activist route. Quoting James 2:26, "Faith without works is dead," they call fellow believers to take up arms, get involved in the public debate and change things for themselves. Others, seeing all the evil and pain around them, quietly determine to make a change in their own lives, families and communities.
If you're wondering if there's a wrong or right approach, let me offer you Solomon's wisdom: "There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven ... A time to be silent and a time to speak." (Ecclesiastes 3:1,7)
But you know what Scripture never sets a time constraint for? Prayer.
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. (Romans 12:12)
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. (Colossians 4:2)
There's always a time for prayer.
But our culture doesn't seem to think so.