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Pastor Devotional

Praying for Orlando

by Jim Johnson

For the past three weeks, our Preston Trail family has been immersed in a season of prayer. We've heard from so many of you that our Prayer DIY message series as well as the "28 Days of Prayer" we've been sending out each morning via text have been helpful tools to grow your prayer life. On Sunday morning I woke, checked my phone as I do each morning, and had two notifications. The first was a news update that a mass shooting had occurred at a Orlando nightclub, leaving at least 20 dead. The second was my "28 Days of Prayer" notification, coincidentally titled "Praying in Heartbreak."

As I read the brief prayer our other senior pastor Paul wrote over a month ago to be sent out on Sunday, I was struck by the words, "I don't know what to say. I wave to my heart as it's sinking." I resonate with that sentiment as I consider the world in which we now live--a world where acts of terror and violence have become the norm. Faced with such a disheartening reality, it can be far too easy to allow our hearts to become callous. Monday morning as I read through the news again and reflected on this horrific tragedy, I felt the Spirit convicting me because I was falling victim to the temptation to insulate myself from the pain of so many by focusing on the "other-ness" of the victims. They were mostly members of the LGBT community. They were celebrating Gay Pride Month. They were at one of Orlando's premier gay nightclubs. As if any of these facts diminish the reality that these 49 individuals are our “neighbors” and that they were mercilessly gunned down in what is now being called the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history and the nation's worst terror attack since 9/11.

As we pray today and in the coming days, let us not forget to pray for the families of the victims and those who were gravely injured. Let us pray for the local church in Orlando, that they would wrap their arms around the hurting and broken people in their midst and display the radical love of Jesus. And let us remember that in those times when we are so overcome with evil and brokenness that we don't know what to pray, "the Holy Spirit prays for us (and our neighbors) with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.”