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Thoughts & Prayers CAN Do Something. Here’s How.

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On June 13, 2016, one day after the horrific shooting in an Orlando nightclub that left 49 people dead and another 58 wounded, I was overwhelmed.

Overwhelmed with grief. Helplessness. Exhaustion. I expected all of these. Sadly, I also expected to be overwhelmed by something insidious that should never be so tied to tragedy: contention. It’s commonplace these days when the horrors flash across our screens. Within hours, minutes even, of the news breaking, you can expect the fighting to begin.

That summer in 2016, it was ripping me apart. I didn’t know how to respond to the very many people who were chastising others for their oft-used phrased “thoughts and prayers.” I came up with the following, which I shared on my personal Facebook account:

The day my father died, even as a 10-year-old, I found myself doing the only thing I could conceive in that moment. I prayed. I fell to my knees and I begged God with every bit of my soul for help. There have been many times in my life when I’ve been faced with similar moments, when all that was in me was the guttural cry of a weak, fragile being in the midst of absolute extremity.

As I knelt by my bed last night and prayed for the world and my soul and the future, it was all I could do. I felt overwhelmed at the anger and hate in the world. I felt distressed at how we can’t even mourn tragedy together without contention and bitterness. I felt the weight of my own personal tragedies and the excruciating reality of burying your loved ones too early. So I prayed. I cried. It was all I had in me.

Today, I’ve been told by many that my prayers mean very little. They’re not real. They’re not enough. I should go and do something that actually matters.

I’m not here to say that we don’t need action. I’m not here to say that I don’t need to take a closer look at my life and determine how I can serve those we are suffering better.  I am simply sending out a plea for us do our best not to cast scorn at the widow’s mite. Instead, let us gather together with whatever we are all able to bring. Prayer isn’t enough to change the world or solve all our problems. It isn’t enough to just say we are praying, and then do nothing without real empathy and sorrow for others. However, I don’t think prayer is unimportant. I believe it can change hearts and lead us to become the kind of people who WILL change the world and solve the harrowing problems we face.

If all any of my brothers and sisters (especially those in the LDS community) can do is kneel and pray for the LGBTQ community and those involved in the horrific scene in Orlando, then I view it as a MIGHTY step forward to how all of us ought to be acting anyway. Even if you don’t believe in God or believe in prayer, believe in the love we all claim to stand for and that for many prayer is a way to express love. For me, prayer does indeed make an impact on how I am able to live my life.

May these prayers lead to inspired thoughts and may inspired thoughts lead to inspired actions.

I get it. I do.

Platitudes ARE useless when they’re given without sincerity and without thought. So, how can thoughts and prayers become truly useful and impactful? Here are a few ideas.

What are you actually thinking about?

Are you sending thoughts? Great! But what are you actually thinking about? Are you just thinking “How awful!” and then forgetting everything once you go to YouTube and watch that awesome viral video? If that’s you, it’s not enough.

Think about the people affected. Think about their families. Think about how we got to such a point. Think about if there is anyone in your sphere of influence who may be facing something similar that you can help. Think about what you can do to serve those affected. Think about how you can become civically involved. Think about the issues. Think about what you learn when you go to research the issues. Don’t’ forget so easily.

Think about Jesus Christ. Doing so will allow you to become more like him.

Prayer for eyes to see opportunities

In the wake of SO MUCH tragedy, it can feel impossible to serve. What can you actually do? What difference will you actually make? As you pray for those suffering to be comforted and helped, pray for how you can comfort and help. Pray for opportunities to serve and the ability to recognize those chances. Pray for the courage to act.

Send your prayer specifically

Send your prayer to someone specifically. Don’t just type it out on social media. Turn your prayer into something tangible you can send. Send a card. Send a note. Send a Facebook message to a specific person or group. Send something so those who hurt can have something to hold onto to remind them they are not forgotten or alone.

Do you really pray?

I believe a prayer, without anything else, can comfort and bless others. However, I actually have to do it. So many times, we say we are sending thoughts and prayers and we never actually do it. Think? The last time you said that phrase, did you get on your knees that night and plead for heaven’s help? Did you stop what you were doing at work and offer up a prayer, right then and there? Was the prayer sincere and heartfelt?

What I said in 2016 is still my prayer today.

May these prayers lead to inspired thoughts and may inspired thoughts lead to inspired actions.

Join the Discussion!
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Aleah Ingram
Aleah Ingram
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.

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