How Long, Lord? How Long?

How Long, Lord? How Long?

Several weeks ago, I was in a Zoom meeting and got an urgent text from the church administrator: “There’s an active shooter in the neighborhood.” I hopped off the call and raced to the church. The daycare staff had already locked down their end of the building. So, we secured the rest of the building. The school across the street from where the shooting was unfolding was already in lockdown. Police from five towns, the state police, and Swat teams responded. News helicopters whirred overhead. The five-hour standoff ended when the shooter gave himself up. He had killed his ex-girlfriend.

Two weeks later, a text came in from a colleague, asking, did I want to plan a vigil on the town green for the Black lives lost to gun violence in Buffalo? Last week, I texted that same colleague, “let’s plan a vigil for tomorrow evening on the town green for all the children and adults who died in Uvalde, Texas.”

My heart wants to cry out in the loudest lament I can possibly scream—How long, Lord? How long?
I am a loss for words today—and you might be too—and that’s okay. I invite you into prayerful silence today—whether you sit quietly in prayer, go for a walk letting your legs pray for you, or dig around in your garden letting your hands pray. Let whatever you do today be a prayer for those 19 innocent children and their two teachers who lost their lives to gun violence. If you have no words, invite the Spirit to say them for you. Let the sorrow and anger and helplessness in your heart be your prayer. Pray with your body, pray with your hands, pray with your feet, pray with your spirit, pray with your actions in the days ahead to seek change.

How long, Lord? How Long?

Rev. David Reed, the Bishop of the Episcopal Church of West Texas, offered these words: “Words of outrage are not enough to express our hatred of this evil done to little children who simply went to school this morning. Expressions of sorrow scarcely touch the depth of the families’ grief. There is nothing we can say to comfort the parents, siblings, and grandparents whose lives have been left in ruins by this violence.

What we have to offer is ourselves. To turn ourselves, our hearts and minds, to those who are suffering in Uvalde – to reach out our hands to lift up and to extend our arms to embrace – this is what we have to offer, we can make ourselves available to the pain and brokenness. Within each of us is the power to love and to resist hatred.

And we can pray. We must pray. Ignore the cynics and pray with all your heart. Let your cries reach to the heavens. Let your anger and despair be your prayer. And listen to God answering in return. Look for God’s tears revealed and listen for the Holy One’s righteous anger. Give yourself over to opportunities to join in the Spirit’s work of binding up and healing. Love with all you’ve got.”

(See Rev. David Reed’s prayer here.)


How Long, Lord? How Long?

O God of love, life, death, and renewal, we cry out in sorrow for the innocent lives lost. We pray for those families devastated by their loss. We pray for the first responders and the secondary trauma they will live with. We pray for the tender hearts and spirits of the children who witnessed this atrocity. “Give us the grace to entrust all your beloved children who lost their lives…to your everlasting care and love. Pour out your grace and loving-kindness on all who grieve; surround them with your love; and restore their trust in goodness. We lift up to you our weary, wounded souls and ask you to send your Spirit to take away the anger and violence that infects our hearts and make us instruments of your peace and children of the light.” Amen.

(Second part of prayer adapted from here.)

June 06, 2022 by Christina Williams 1 Comment
Notify of

1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Dianne Schlichting
2 years ago

Prayer is important, but “thoughts and prayers” need to become actions that will begin to decrease the number of innocent deaths by guns that cause us to ask, “How long, O Lord” until those who are moneyed by lobbyists will do the right thing, the just thing, the job they were sent to Congress to do FOR THE PEOPLE?


Our mission is to nurture contemplative living and leadership.


In 2025, Shalem will be a dynamic and inclusive community, empowered by the Spirit, where seekers engage in transformation of themselves, their communities, and the world through spiritual growth, deep connection, and courageous action.