Do thoughts and prayers work?

When tragedy strikes, we want to show love to those affected. Do “thoughts and prayers” help?

If you haven’t heard, this past Wednesday afternoon a student opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. (Learn more here about what happened.) This terrible tragedy has left many people asking:

These are very good questions. Because this post is geared for parents to share with children asking these questions, I will focus on the first one. However, above are some links to answers others have given the other topics.

Feel free to scan down until I hit your question. Leave me a comment and ask if I didn’t answer it.

Do thoughts and prayers work? #thoughtsandprayers

The short answer is “it depends.”

Simply sending “good thoughts” does nothing but say that the person speaking wants to support the hurting person. Simply thinking something doesn’t change anything. Thinking may drive us to take some kind of action, but thoughts alone don’t do anything. Still, telling a hurting person that you’ve been thinking about them may make them feel a little better knowing they are not alone.

Some people think that if you “send good out into the Universe,” then you will get good in return. It doesn’t work that way. Sending “good thoughts” out into the “Universe” doesn’t do anything because the universe is not God. There is no “tit for tat” or bargaining with the inanimate objects (sun, moon, stars, earth, etc.) that make up this universe. In fact, when we start thinking of the universe as having some kind of power over us, we’re making the universe into a god. That is idolatry.

Idolatry is making anything more important than God. Maybe we think money will solve all our problems. That is idolatry. Maybe we think if more people (or that certain person) liked us, then it would solve all our problems. That is idolatry. Maybe we think if we just had more control over our lives (like doing more good to out-weigh the bad), then it would solve all our problems. That too is idolatry.

There is only one God. He is God Almighty, the Maker of heaven and earth, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and our Lord Jesus Christ. God makes it very clear that if we pray to anyone or anything else, it doesn’t work.

Take a look at the days of Moses. The people of Israel were slaves in Egypt where people thought Pharaoh was god. Not only that, but they worshiped gods they thought controlled the Nile river, the sun, the harvest, and many other things. Do you know what Pharaoh said when Moses told him that “I AM” (Yahweh, sometimes spelled Jehovah or LORD in all caps), the God of Israel said to let His people go?

Exodus 5:1-2 New International Version (NIV)

5 Afterward Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Let my people go, so that they may hold a festival to me in the wilderness.’”

Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord and I will not let Israel go.”

Then came the ten plagues. Each plague targeted one of the gods worshipped in Egypt. Each plague showed that the LORD, the God of Israel, was powerful and the gods the Egyptians worshipped were not. (Learn more here.)

Around five hundred years later, Elijah had a similar contest pitting the God of Israel against a god named Baal. That epic clash you just have to read for yourself in 1 Kings 18:16-46. Be sure to look for how many chances Elijah gave the other team to win. He even rigged is how half of the contest in a way he was sure to lose!

The point is that no one and nothing is as powerful as the God of the Bible, so only prayers to that God work.

I challenge you to look up at least two of the verses below. Go on. I’ll still be here when you get back.

God always answers our prayers to Him, but not always in the way we intended.

Keep in mind too that God usually uses His people to do His work here on earth. That means it is good to pray for people in need, but we should also look for ways God shows us that we can help them.

Want more?

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