Devastating California wildfires and massive hurricanes have recently claimed the lives of many Americans. In a country where we normally feel safe, suddenly we don’t. How do we approach God in the midst of all the pain? In an attempt to encourage believers, James 1:2-3 NIV says: “consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance”. While it is true, hard times have the potential to strengthen us and our relationship with God, recognizing that potential isn’t an easy task. We will come out stronger if we lean into God during these times. When we are blessed to not be going through trials, we are also given the opportunity to pray for those who are. This means that we can pray for those dealing with heartbreaks, deaths, diseases, natural disasters, and more. Here are 4 ways that you can serve the Church through prayer in times of tragedy.

1. Pray for Peace

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:7 NIV

Having peace in God means to understand that our lives are in God’s hands. Anxieties are cast on Him, and we can continue with our lives knowing that God is working for our good and His glory. Praying for peace for either yourself or others in times of tragedy is essential. God giving us peace in those times looks like us not worrying about the future or stressing about things, rather bringing these worries to the feet of God and allowing Him to take care of what only He can truly take care of. We have no power over things like natural disasters, cancer, or losing our job, but God has it all in His hands. Pray for those going through trials to be given peace from God.

2. Pray for Restoration

“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast” 1 Peter 5:10 NIV

There is spiritual restoration and physical restoration. A person’s spirit may need to be restored due to hardships that they’ve been going through. Maybe they have grown farther away from Christ during these times or maybe they’re dismayed. God can bring healing and restoration in a way that meets our spiritual needs. Physical restoration may be needed for a destroyed home or a weakened body. God can also bring healing and restoration in this way. Praying for restoration looks like praying for homes to be rebuilt, joy to be found, and healing to begin.

3. Pray for Provision

“And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:19 NIV

While going through tragic times and hardships people may need various things like food, housing, rest, strength, and more, and God can and will provide these things. God does not allow us to just wither away, rather He is with us always. God is a mighty, strong, loving God who listens to us and answers our prayers. Those who are hurting need help, and God will help. Maybe we cannot physically go help those in need, but asking God to provide for them in whatever ways are needed is a way that we can serve them. Ask God to provide for those who are struggling and also ask God to provide those who are helping these people with the right words to say and things to do.

4. Pray for Protection

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” Isaiah 41:10 NIV

Protection can look different according to the type of hardship that a person is going through. It can mean protection from evil, protection from destruction, or protection from being hurt physically or in terms of your feelings. Tragedy can be hard and can lead to destruction, desolation, or dismay. But God can protect us from these things. Praying for protection does not ensure a person’s safety. However, it can help those going through hard times to not hurt as much. Pray for safety, firmness in faith, and strength, and God will protect.

God is with us, and prayer is powerful. Take some time today to pray for those being affected by the fires in California, and see God move in the lives of those who are hurting.

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” Mark 11:24 NIV