Thoughts on Thoughts and Prayers

Depression, teen depression, tunnel, young

The mass shooting that happened in Aurora, IL February 15, 2019, hits close to him for me. I live within miles of the place where it happened, and my kids went to school within a mile from it. Are thoughts and prayers the right response to mass shootings anymore? Is it enough? Harsh criticism has been leveled at the faith community (and conservatives in particular) in recent years over the phrase, thoughts and prayers, and (frankly) that phrase is pretty worn out after so much use. How do we go forward? What’s the right response? What can we do? How can we stop the terrible turn our American society has taken that has lead to so many indiscriminate mass shootings? Mass shootings were unheard of before the 1960’s. What is happening in the world we live in?


The phrase, “thoughts and prayers”, has become a touchstone of controversy in recent years. The phrase has become repeated so often that the meaning is stretched thin. In modern society in which social media provides instant, ready knowledge of the trials and tribulations that face people to whom we are digitally interconnected, the phrase has become trite.

Diagnoses of cancer and other health maladies, deaths of family members or friends and other circumstances that bring the pain and suffering of others to mind often evoke responses that include thoughts and prayers. It’s a polite, but increasingly empty, thing to say. Particularly in response to all the offerings of thoughts and prayers in response to mass shootings in the last few years, a backlash has even arisen against the use of that phrase.

I assume the sentiment includes the implication that something needs to be done about the problem, and thoughts and…

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One thought on “Thoughts on Thoughts and Prayers

  1. I grew up a few miles from Aurora and have a daughter who lives in that city now. Thank you for this perspective on “thoughts and prayers.” It’s hard to know what can be done, but part of the answer has to include identifying the people prone to such violent breakdowns and helping them recover before they break down. J.

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