How to Pray for Colorado

Typically when there’s a natural disaster you can count on some pastor to make the ridiculous claim that God is sending a warning, or calling people to repent, or whatever. I wonder what they’re thinking as the fires rage in Colorado Springs, home of several conservative evangelical associations (like Focus on the Family), as well as the US Air Force Academy, which has been accused in the past of particularly coercive ‘evangelism’ practices. I suppose these pastors might be thinking differently right now.

In any case, I think prayer is important. Not because it causes God to supernaturally intervene, but rather because in those moments of reflective mindfulness, we begin to line up our own wills and intentions with the invitation of God to participate in the healing, restoration, and reconciliation of the world. Prayer attunes us to the will of God and prompts us to respond, and without our own response, I’d suggest our prayers aren’t particularly meaningful.

So here’s how I’d suggest praying for Colorado (and the other states suffering wildfires right now):

1 – Make a donation to relief efforts on the ground. Start with the American Red Cross, but if you have friends or family nearby you may be able to learn about more particular local responses as well.

2 – Consider the possibility that record temperatures, extreme drought, and other ‘weather weirding’ in the past few years (like exceptional wildfires and droughts in Texas, or Russia, as well as hurricanes in Vermont!!) might not simply be coincidences. You could start by reading “Eaarth” by Bill McKibben.

3 – After you’ve considered these possible connections, do something about it. There are likely plenty of things you can do in your own life to reduce your environmental impact (you know what they are already, don’t you?) and there are opportunities to speak out against the systemic environmental destruction that’s going on around us, like here (fracking) and here (Keystone XL).

Or perhaps God just has a particularly harsh message for Colorado Springs this year.

I recognize that this might seem an insensitive or heavy-handed way of advocating for environmental issues. That’s why relief is #1 on my list. But…if we don’t consider the broader systemic connections (could our lifestyles have actually contributed to this destruction in some way?), all we’re left with is scratching our heads when these things happen, wondering what God is trying to say.

All I’m saying is, you should pray about this.

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~ by Joe Paparone on June 28, 2012.

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