How to Pray for Chattanooga

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An act of domestic terrorism in Chattanooga. I’ve spent half of my life in this city, and I never thought I would write those words. No one saw this coming. But now we are left with a question: How will we respond?

I’ve seen a lot of posts on social media in reaction to the shooting of members of our military and law enforcement. Everything from outrage to sympathy. But many people have posted about prayer.

Tragedies like this have a way of turning our eyes toward God. When things feel out of control, we need to know that Someone is in control. When we feel hopeless, we need a Source of hope that is bigger than us. So we turn to God.

There’s this incredible scene in the Old Testament – a king who is facing imminent attack. His name is Jehoshaphat, and his story is found in 2 Chronicles 20.

As armies are amassing not far from the city, Judah’s king prays:

O our God…we do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.

Meanwhile the people of the kingdom stood before the Lord and prayed. They fasted and they prayed.

This is a great place to start. When we don’t know what to do, we turn our eyes to the One who can lead us and deliver us.

So how do we Pray for Chattanooga? Here are three prayers:

1. Pray for those who are grieving. Psalm 34:18 says, “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit.” 

God of all comfort, please be near. As families grieve, be close and be real. As they ask hard questions like, “WHY?”, Lord please bring peace – the peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7). Please stand guard around their hearts and minds and bring them peace.

2. Pray for an awakening in Chattanooga. Right now there is an heightened awareness of our need for justice and our need for help. Now is a time for Christians to pray for an awakening to the life-changing power of Jesus Christ.

God of our salvation, we know that you waste nothing. You can use all things for the good of those who are called according to your purposes (Romans 8:28). So we ask that you use this tragedy for your glory. Awaken our city to your presence. Awaken our hearts to your love and grace. Awaken those who do not know you. Open our eyes to see you as the one who satisfies the longings of our souls.

“Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.” Psalm 90:14

3. Pray for our leaders. It’s easy to pick them apart, but God’s word calls on us to pray for them (1 Timothy 2:1-6). It’s been a whirlwind summer – terrorism in our own city, court rulings re-defining marriage, and news about organizations profiting from aborted babies. Just writing those words is surreal. So we pray for those who have been elected to lead.

Sovereign God, our leaders need your guidance. Our nation, our state, our city – we need you. Forgive us for vilifying those who do not align with our values. Give us a heart to pray. You have the power to change our nation. You have allowed our authorities to be elected and positioned in their roles. Move in their hearts. And raise up leaders who follow you and seek to do your will.

Imagine if everyone who said they were praying were really praying! A city turning to God. An awakening to the life-changing power of Jesus!