One week ago today a gunman walked into First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas and opened fire during the Sunday morning worship service. Twenty-six worshippers were killed. The other 20 in attendance were injured. In this community of just 400 people, everyone lost someone – a mother, father, sister, brother, daughter, son, or friend.
Is Prayer Enough?
Some have gone to Sutherland Springs in the wake of this tragedy to help. To feed, to counsel, to hug. Most of us have watched from a distance. Wondering what, if anything we can do. We can pray. But is it enough?
An MSNBC journalist asked Pastor Paul Buford the same question. Buford is the pastor of River Oaks Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, just down the road from the First Baptist Church. Buford’s church immediately became the ministry center for the families and law enforcement after the shooting. Buford’s answer was unequivocal. “Absolutely. We know prayer works. It brings comfort to the one praying and the ones being prayed for.”
The Apostle Paul also knew prayer works. In his second letter to the believers in Corinth, Paul asked them to continue to help him by their prayers (2 Corinthians 1:10-11). We can help Sutherland Springs with our prayers. Let us boldly approach God’s throne of grace on their behalf in the days and weeks ahead.
Specific Prayer Requests from Sutherland Springs
Sometimes we want to pray but aren’t sure how or what to pray. We can always pray “generically,” but I wanted to pray specifically. So, I contacted Martha Buford, the wife of the pastor at River Oaks Church in Sutherland Springs. I’ve known Paul and Martha for years and have ministered with them a couple of times in the past. Martha graciously shared some specific needs that are immediate and pressing. The following requests come straight from Martha:
Pray for today’s worship service at River Oaks Baptist Church – The sister church of First Baptist Sutherland Springs is holding services this morning, Sunday, November 12th, at 9:30 am. Please pray for each soul in attendance. There may be many there who don’t know Jesus. Pray for their hearts to be inclined towards Him. Pray for God’s name to be glorified. Pray for peace and comfort but also joy to be experienced as the community worships together. Pray for Paul Buford, the pastor of River Oaks, as he leads the service. Pray that God will give him boldness and wisdom as he proclaims God’s Word, and strength as he ministers. Paul is also grieving the loss of friends.
Pray for God to strike down the spirit of fear that threatens the community – Martha shared that the children of River Oaks are afraid to come to church today. Last Sunday morning, during the gunfire, River Oaks church went into lockdown mode. Just imagine how that event alone impacted the children in the nursery. The photo below is from the grounds of River Oaks Church earlier this week. They have been purposefully working with the children to ease their fear.
Pray for the mourners as they attend funerals – Funeral services will be held every day this week. Remember, everyone in the community was either related to or knew everyone. They will all be attending service after service. Every day. Please pray for their emotional and physical strength and stamina. Pray for God’s unique comfort to hold them up. Pray for the privacy they need to mourn. Pray for all the details of each service to fall into place.
Pray for the family that lost 8 members – Everyone is devastated, but this family has also been decimated. One man lost his wife, five children, and his parents. Please pray for his emotional and spiritual healing.
God is Working in Sutherland Springs
One specific thing I have been praying is that God will be gloried and the Gospel proclaimed. As I wrote in an earlier post, God did not cause this tragedy, but His is working in it and through it. He is glorifying His name through His people in Sutherland Springs. If you’d like to know more, watch this video interview with Paul and Martha Buford.
Let’s keep praying. Our prayers do help. They do make a difference. Let us be faithful.
Let me know in the comments how you are praying for the community of Sutherland Springs.