On December 2nd, a terrible shooting occurred in San Bernardino, CA, where fourteen people were killed, and several more were wounded. As often happens when a tragedy occurs, many people spoke up and said they were praying for the victims and their families. Soon afterward, the New York Daily News ran a cover story titled “God Isn’t Fixing This.” The article essentially claimed that the mention of prayer is an empty platitude and that gun control would be more effective at stopping tragedies than praying would be. They claim that God isn’t fixing problems like mass murder.
But they are wrong. God has already done something to “fix” this that changed the course of history. As we approach Christmas, we must remember what we are celebrating. We are celebrating the birth of Jesus, who came to be our Savior. The main problem we have is with sin, not with guns. As long as people devalue life, they will end life with guns, knives, abortion tools, or whatever other means they find. As long as people are sinners, they will do sinful things, and it shouldn’t surprise us when that happens. So God sent Christ to save us from sin and its consequences, and once we receive that salvation, the work of God in changing our lives can change the world around us.
In addition, we need to pray now more than ever. Prayer is not an empty platitude. Prayer is what changes the world. As James 5:16 says, “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” We need to pray for one another, and prayer is effective. But we need to pray in the right way.
James 5:16 says that the prayer of a righteous man avails much. So the first question we must ask is, “How do we become righteous?” We don’t become righteous by our own strength or effort or good works. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” We receive Christ’s righteousness when we accept His free gift of salvation (see “The Gospel“), where He pays for our sin and credits His righteousness to our account. God has provided salvation, but we must receive it in the way which He has designed. We also must receive His salvation before we can truly and effectively seek His help in other things of life. One cannot be separated from God by sin and wonder why God doesn’t answer prayer. Isaiah 59:1-2 says, “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” God can hear our prayer, and He can answer our prayer. He can save spiritually, and He can save from the physical problems and dangers around us. But if we are still separated from Him by sin, then we cannot expect that He will continuously answer our prayers. God is not a genie in a bottle who responds to our commands and gives us what we want, but then allows us to ignore Him when and care nothing for what He says. Instead, we need to turn to God and allow Him to take care of our greatest need first (our need of salvation). Then, once we have the spiritual life that He gives at salvation, we can seek His help in prayer for the other difficulties of life.
We also need to be committed to prayer. For the Christian, we can turn to God and pray, but few of us, if any, can claim that we have prayed as much as we should. Prayer is more than throwing out a quick request of God’s help in a desperate situation. Prayer is hard work. It is something that requires diligence and commitment. But that is how God has called us to pray. God does answer prayer, and it’s a wonderful thing to see the things that He does when we pray. But we must be committed and diligent in prayer. We need to be a praying people, today more than ever.