How to Pray in the Wake of Hurricane Dorian

This article is part of the How to Pray series.

Praying amidst Destruction

A storm with over 200 mph winds moving slower than a human being can walk.

Over the last week, I’ve shaken my head in disbelief at the unrelenting damage caused by Hurricane Dorian. The swirling mass of wind and rain kept pummeling Caribbean Islands, the coast of Florida, and now the eastern seaboard of the Carolinas.

The images of the storm’s aftermath are gut-wrenching. Along with the flooded streets, roofless houses, and overturned cars, there are sections of land that look like a bomb exploded. Trees, homes, and shopping centers are leveled.

Start with Humility

How can we pray in light of Dorian’s wake?

First, storms like Dorian humble us. It is good to be reminded of our place in the universe. We have the technology to track a storm, measure its winds, forecast its route, and warn those in its path. But we are powerless to stop it. That’s not a bad reminder.

Here’s how you could pray:

Lord, this historic hurricane reminds me of my limitations. While I marvel at Dorian’s power and have deep concern for those in its path, I can’t help but feel the helplessness of our humanity. I hate this storm and the destruction. But even bad storms can be good reminders that I am not God.

Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy

Mark Vroegop

This book seeks to restore the lost art of lament in order to help readers discover the power of honest wrestling with the questions that come with grief and suffering.

Pray with Empathy

A humble heart is a good starting point. But we should also empathize and pray for those whose lives are tragically affected by Dorian. I watched the news as a Bahamian man talked about the grief of seeing his wife drown. It was chilling. And it personalized the depth of the tragedy.

Here’s how you could pray:

God, my heart breaks as I see the devastation left in Dorian’s path. Entire communities are destroyed. Families separated. Lives lost. Please grant grace to those who are grieving. Supply them with the help they need as they pick up the remains of their lives. Provide comfort to lives that have been shattered and healing to bodies that bear the effects of this storm. I lament with them. The brokenness of the world is all-too-clear today.

Pray for Leadership

Tragedies like Dorian require leadership. Government officials—from small towns to the halls of Congress—will need wisdom to know how to quickly help people. Remember Katrina?

Here’s how you can pray:

We thank you, Lord, for the common grace of government. We pray for our leaders at every level, asking that you would help them to know how to use their authority and resources to serve those in need. Grant them wisdom and creativity. We pray you would help them to work together for the purpose of serving people in this tragedy.

Pray for Souls

While there is probably more that could be prayed, we must not neglect to pray for the souls of people. Natural disasters can be a doorway for spiritual questions and eternal decisions.

Here’s how you could pray:

As the winds of Dorian subside, I pray that the Spirit would move. As people wrestle with the fragility of life, would you call them to look to Jesus? As they mourn, would you cause them to ask important questions about their eternal destiny? I pray that many people would realize their need for a Savior. Use the people who follow you, Jesus, to love and care for the hurting and homeless. Let them see the power of the gospel and our love for neighbors so that they might be drawn to a relationship with you.

We should do more than merely watch the news and marvel at the destruction of a hurricane.

Next week, Dorian will make its way into the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The monster storm of 2019 will dissipate, having ended its slow and destructive march up the East Coast. However, others will follow with different names. Hurricanes are a part of the effects of a fallen world, but Dorian was a destructive beast.

We should do more than merely watch the news and marvel at the destruction of a hurricane.

We could take the opportunity to pray—to seek the Lord of the wind and waves on behalf of those whose lives have been shattered in the wake of Dorian.

Mark Vroegop is the author of Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy: Discovering the Grace of Lament.

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