Community prayer events are helpful

Published 11:36 pm Monday, March 25, 2019

Prayer is a powerful tool regardless of whether you believe in a higher power and answered prayers.

If you do, great, God hears your prayers and answers the ones that merit His response.

If you do not believe in a higher power, however, prayer cannot hurt.

If nothing else, meditating and thinking of positive outcomes to life’s difficult situations can’t hurt.

In the absence of an omnipotent being, prayer can help us focus on problems and solutions to those problems.

“God helps those who help themselves,” as the English political theorist Algernon Sidney once said.

If you are more of a religious bent, however, prayer is a powerful communal tool for solving problems.

“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them,” says Mathew 18:20.

In that case, the Lord was present Sunday evening at Zion Chapel AME in Natchez for the Mayor’s Community Prayer Service, the first of quarterly prayer services Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell has called for this year.

Approximately 300 people gathered to praise God with worship and song and to pray for an end to violence that has plagued Natchez and Adams County in the past couple of years.

In 2018 alone, 14 people were murdered in Natchez and Adams County and so far this year, four people have been murdered, which puts us on course for another violent year such as we had last year.

Several pastors of local churches participated, including the Rev. Scott Green who offered a prayer for leaders, the Rev. Doug Broome who offered a prayer for law enforcement and first responders and Ruby Mallory who offered a prayer for families of victims of gun violence.

In attendance were people of every age group and socio-economic level, elected officials, law enforcement and emergency responders, all praying for solutions to, and focusing on, Natchez and Adams County’s common problem of violence.

Realizing that we all are affected by the violence, whether we are victims of gunshots or plagued with living in and being invested in a community with such a problem, is a step in the right direction.

The causes of the violence are not simple. They are multifaceted, and the solutions to the problems that have resulted in such a violent community are not simple either.

As they say, however, acknowledging a problem is the first step in solving the problem and by keeping the message in front of the community through such events as the community prayer services, we will all realize our common bond in the causes and solutions to the problem.

Prayer can’t hurt, but it can only help if people take action. Whether God divinely inspires that action or the actions come from people who just want to help the community help itself, is a matter of debate for theologians.

In the meantime, let’s strive to live more peaceful lives, in which we are more willing to help and love our neighbors, than we are at focusing on and exploiting divisions in our community.

Scott Hawkins is editor of The Natchez Democrat. Reach him at 601-445-3540 or scott.hawkins@natchezdemocrat.com.