A crowd gathers for a vigil in honor of the victims of terrorist attacks in Paris at Lafayette Square, outside the White House, on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, in Washington, D.C. People gathered in cities around the world to show support for Paris following the coordinated assault that left at least 129 people killed and more than 350 injured. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

Actions speak louder than prayer

Whenever dark times are upon us the world stops. Everyone comes together in solidarity after a tragedy, but what does any of it really mean?

Some of us change our profile pictures on social media as a visual sign of solidarity; others pray to their God to support the people affected. The sad part is, this is futile.

What is the true power of prayer? In reality, all it does is comfort the ones doing it. It doesn’t help anyone else.

Remember Je suis Charlie? The world stood in solidarity with the journalists who were slaughtered in the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris. The religious folks prayed, and look how good that worked.

Your God has yet to step in to put an end to the violence. Perhaps you aren’t praying hard enough.

This isn’t an indictment of religion, but rather an indictment of prayers which go unheard and unanswered.

We should all be able to live together without our beliefs separating us, but we shouldn’t be so naïve as to think that prayers will actually make a difference to anyone but you.

You don’t need religion to be a good person, and having religion doesn’t automatically make you one.

Prayers have never made a difference.

After 9/11, President George W. Bush got the country riled up and ready for vengeance. He told us to pray and that we’d bring the “evil doers” to justice.  

And while the country got itself worked up over “our” God’s justice, our government invaded a country that had nothing to do with the terrorist attack, plunging us into a prolonged war.

It put us into severe debt that led to the Great Recession, and, more importantly, sacrificed the lives of nearly 4,500 American troops who died in Iraq alone plus thousands more who were injured and many others that now suffer from PTSD.

We prayed.

Prayer won’t solve our political climate, and it won’t solve the Middle Eastern crisis. U.S. armed forces will never be able to destroy ISIS. What can actually make a difference is us taking action by demanding together as one voice that our government needs to leave the Middle East.

Not just pull out our troops, but cease funneling money and weapons to Middle Eastern countries that always ends up in the hands of extremists who want to murder us.

Beyond just the idea of ISIS, the organization is said to consist of an estimated 25,000 people. The surrounding nations that hate them, have several million troops that aren’t doing any significant fighting because America continues to prop them up.

Suddenly without American money and support, they’d finally have to fight for their own interests. Staring down millions of troops, ISIS wouldn’t have time to coordinate deadly attacks on innocent people.

Perhaps it would even be the catalyst for the bickering nations in the region to unite behind a singular cause. The quagmire of the Middle East would be forced to solve itself.

After the last mass shooting in Oregon, we prayed. But even President Barack Obama said that prayers weren’t enough.

“But, as I said just a few months ago and I said a few months before and I said each time we see one of these mass shootings, our thoughts and prayers are not enough,” he said. “It’s not enough. It does not capture the heartache and grief and anger that we should feel, and it does nothing to prevent this carnage from being inflicted some place else in America next week or a couple months from now.”

After what happened in the brutal terrorist attack in Paris over the weekend, the last thing we need is more prayer. We need action.

Everyone who prayed should now pick up a phone and call their congressman. Ask them why we keep funding the Middle Eastern crisis and then sending our troops in and making matters worse. There will be no divine intervention. We have to do it ourselves.

Prayer has failed you. It has failed us. It may have made you feel better, but it didn’t do anything to help a world that desperately needs it. The truth is, what we need least is your prayers. What we need most is your action.

  • Kevin Harper

    Leave it to Troy Pope to turn an attack on innocent civilians and turn it into an narrow-minded tirade against prayer. The thoughts of Pope reflect an disinterest and distaste for being willing to truly understand an issue. When Christians, like myself, pray for people; this represents the beginning point of the healing that is needed. So, I do not pray to make myself feel better or to “send good vibes”- rather, I reflect and ask God to open my mind and my heart to how I may be of most help. As Jesus Christ makes clear in the parable of the Good Samaritan we should help people in tangible ways. As it says in another part of the Bible, “Faith without works is dead” ; this means that we should not merely believe something or talk about it, instead we should actually do it. I am glad to see that Pope’s conclusion affirms what the Bible teaches.
    When Jesus saw somebody who was suffering, he didn’t go off and pray for them. Instead, he was filled with compassion did not hesitate to provide healing. Jesus also encourages his followers to pray for others. What we learn for this is that praying for somebody and providing aid to them are not mutually exclusive; they are attitudes and actions that work together. So, I am not ashamed to #prayforparis and nobody else who believes in God should let Troy Pope try to bully them or ridicule them for practicing their faith or sharing their concern. Since Pope sets up a false dichotomy between praying and taking action- I challenge Troy Pope, who calls for action, to write his next opinion piece about Christian and other religious charity organizations that are taking action and providing material support for people in crisis. Meanwhile, I will be praying for him and the organizations the I donate to (maybe he will write about one of them next week).

    • plankbob

      You really don’t get it, do you? We don’t want or need your prayers. They may make you feel better but we don’t care.

    • Joshua Luzania

      How does your prayer help France heal? Look up stats on France’s religious beliefs. Like half of them don’t even believe in a god. Instead of annoying or pissing off half of the country, how about we let the religious people in France pray and you can pray to yourself and then we can take action and work together instead of pushing religious stuff. It seems presumptuous to say “pray for paris” when half of France doesn’t even pray.