Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land. In just a little while, the wicked will be no more; though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there. But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace. Psalm 37:7-11 (ESV)

   Dear heavenly Father, another day of terror-making darkness, evil-doing madness, and life-taking sadness. How long, O Lord, how Lord before you send Jesus back to eradicate all evil? How long before the wicked will be no more? How much longer is “just a little while”?

     It’s hard not to fret. It’s hard not to feel fearful and angry when women and children, the young and old are mercilessly slaughtered in the city of Paris; when restaurants, concert halls, and sports areas become the venue for the perversion of religion and the murder of your image bearers.

     Father, we offer our prayer, not in self-righteous judgment, but as your weary children—longing for the Day when the knowledge of your glory will fill the earth as the waters cover the sea (Hab. 2:14)—when perfect peace will replace every expression of evil.

     Until that Day, free us from all bitterness and a lust for revenge. Vengeance belongs to you, not to us. Make us warriors of peace and agents of hope. Our labors in the Lord are never in vain. The gospel of the kingdom will prevail. Defeated evil will be eradicated evil. The devil is filled with fury for he knows his time is short (Rev. 12:12). Make it much shorter, Father, much shorter.

     Grant us wisdom to know what loving mercy, doing justice, and walking humbly with you looks like in Paris, and in our own communities. Replace our frets and fears with faith and trust, and our rage and wrath with patience and courage. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ triumphant and grace-full name.

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4 thoughts on “A Prayer of Lament in Response to the Terror Attack in Paris”

  1. Maria says:

    Thank you Scotty for praying in this horror. I grow in my prayer life as you model humble God-centered and God- glorifying prayers I the midst of raw and real feelings.

  2. Vicki Small says:

    Thank you for this heartfelt prayer. I’m not sure if I’m waiting patiently for Him, or just feeling overwhelmed with a sense of futility to fight against the roiling waves of terrorist activities. We’ve seen smaller terrorist acts in America; when will we see something on the magnitude of Paris in NYC, San Francisco, or Phoenix? Will it take place at a sports arena, where football and basketball teams will be playing, in the next few months? Will New Year’s Eve be the time of the next big attack?

    More to the point is our need, I believe–though I fight against it–to focus less on our rights, and more on responding as Christ would have us respond. And doing that without the mental gymnastics to say they are the same thing. We may, indeed, continue to lose our rights. Our Constitution could be decreed null and the 2016 elections denied us. But if such things happen in America, will we respond out of nationalism, or out of the heart of Christ? And what does that look like, in our current world, our current national life?

    Praying for wisdom. Praying to be so transformed, at such a deep place in my heart–my mind, will and emotions–that I will find His peace and wait patiently for Him.

  3. Phil says:

    When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been. (Rev. 6:9-11 ESV)

  4. Curt Day says:

    The prayer is heartfelt, but it also needed to include the recent victims from Kenya and Baghdad. And as I very much appreciate the part that asks God to make us into those who work for peace and hope, we need to pray and work for being able to understand the terrorism that so hurts all of us.

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Scotty Smith

Scotty Smith is the founding pastor of Christ Community Church in Franklin, Tennessee. You can follow him on Twitter.

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