Our world has fallen victim to an ever-growing list of senseless acts of violence. While many of us offer our thoughts and prayers during these times, others are quick to point out that “thoughts and prayers” are not enough anymore and action must be taken. But is there a way that both approaches could work together? Absolutely. In fact, they should.

As a church, we believe in the power of prayer and that God is present and hears us when we seek him. So in times of trouble, and all the times in between, we look to God. When tragedy strikes, many of us need time to process what just happened. Prayer is a way for us to do that. Matthew 11:28-29 says, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Prayer is a safe space to seek God, pour out your emotions, and sit in the events that have happened.

But prayer is also a place to listen and respond. We often forget that prayer is a two-way conversation between us and God, and sometimes we don’t give Him a turn to speak. We need to make sure we are leaving space for God to speak to our hearts and lead us to our next steps–our next actions. James 2:14-17 says, “What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it with your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, ‘Goodbye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well’- but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.” We are called to live out our faith not only in our words but our actions.

So, are thoughts and prayers necessary in times of trouble? Absolutely. But so is action. So let’s not assume that because someone is praying over a situation that they are not going to take action. Maybe they need a little time to figure out what their next move will be. And let’s not assume that those who are taking action haven’t prayed about it first. Maybe they’re responding to the call God has given them.