How Do We Pray for Haiti?

The horrendous earthquake in Haiti on Tuesday evening has shocked all of us.  It is hard to imagine the death and devastation that it has caused – at least 50,000 dead, hundreds of thousands injured and 3 million people displaced – almost half the population of Haiti.  And of course the ramifications of this disaster will go on for a long time to come not just for those who live in this tiny country but for all those who love and care for the people of Haiti.

Both Tom and I have worked in Haiti and our hearts ache as we think of the wonderful people we have known there.  These people were already poor and struggling to keep their families alive.  What will happen now I wonder?

At times like this all of us feel so inadequate and can easily be overwhelmed into numbing paralysis as we try to get our heads around the magnitude of the horror .  It amazes me how closely connected we can be these days to what is happening on the ground in a disaster like this.  Every news channel and website, like CNN, gives us moment by moment images and stories of what is happening – which unfortunately can add to the mind numbing paralysis we feel.  We can even follow along in the blogosphere like this account from Troy Livesay – which I find preferable because it gives me a sense of real people doing real things to make a difference.

So what can we do?  How do we pray? and how does our prayer move us into action?

We can all cry out to God for mercy for those still trapped.  In fact i find that my response at times like this is often nothing more than a repetitive:

Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy

However there are specific prayers we can offer.  We can ask for strength for the doctors and emergency crews.  Ask for wisdom for those assessing need and allocating resources.  Ask for compassion for leaders making decisions about aid.  We can ask for comfort for those who are grieving.  We can also ask for peace for a country that has been so unstable for so long.

A disaster like this should move us to more than prayer however.  We can and should also contribute to the many organizations that have already responded to this disaster.  Here in Seattle World Concern and World Vision are both at the forefront of response and around the world there has already been an outpouring of finances and personnel.  The important thing I think is to make sure that you respond to a reputable organization that you are sure will be able to maximize the effectiveness of their aid.  If you know people who already partner with churches in Haiti that is a wonderful way to funnel your response.

Third, don’t forget about this.  It is easy for compassion fatigue to set in soon after a disaster on this scale.   Don’t let your prayers or attention fade as this fades from the news cycle.  This earthquake will impact Haiti for decades to come and will need prayer for at least that long.  Open your heart to the possibilities of God’s work in the midst of chaos.

Forth, allow this disaster to re-prioritize your own life so that you are always able to be generous in situations like this – because one thing is certain in this world and that is that there will always be disasters that God intends us to respond to in compassion and love.

Fifth use this as an opportunity to search your heart regarding past disasters that held your attention for a moment and then you forgot about.  As I watched the images coming out of Haiti I could not help but remember the similar images that we have seen in the last couple of years from the tsunami that devastated so much of SE Asia and the hurricanes that flattened New Orleans and Myanmar.  Are there ways that we should still be responding to help people in these countries?  Most relief an development agencies will tell you that it is much easier to get people to respond to a disaster than to the ongoing redevelopment needs that extend long beyond the need for immediate relief.

The one thing that we can be sure of is that this is not God’s judgement for past evils committed in Haiti as was suggested by Pat Robertson…. if that were the case all of our cities and our lives would be lying in ruins far worse than the situation in Port au Prince.

Our God is at heart a God of love and compassion.  We do not understand why events like this happen but we do know that in the midst of such devastation people need to see God’s love – a love so great that it endured the pain of death by crucifixion.  A love so great that it will do everything possible to draw us closer to the heart of God.  May we in our response to this disaster be representatives of this God.


10 Responses

  1. Thanks for the post Christine. We all need to not only hear this but to act upon it! “Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy” is a great way to start. Then we follow up with “Lord, show me how to respond in compassion and love. Show me how to be your hands and feet so that, “Your Kingdom comes and your will is done on earth as it is in heaven!” Amen and thank you!

  2. Thank you for bringing some illuminating, loving guidance to this tragic situation.

  3. Thank you, Christine, for your thoughtful piece. My husband and I chose World Vision as our conduit for donation. As I think of the people of Haiti, I do plead God’s mercy. I also pray for transformation of their people as a result of this monumental suffering.

  4. […] For those of you that pray, check out the following blog post by Christine Sine, who I think nicely captures some prayer points. […]

  5. Christine, you are so right that we should attempt to be the hands & feet of God in all this … was listening to the radio this morning as I ironed, and heard a very moving account of some of the people affected, by a BBC journalist out there.
    Their reslience is humbling …

  6. Thanks for this, Christine. I know you and Tom are closely affiliated with Haiti, and I was thinking of the work we did in the DR, with Mercy Ships, and what Haiti might be facing now.

    After the Samoan tsunami, when I was over there counselling, (and I know the tsunami there was small compared to this,) I witnessed first hand the outpouring of aid, the compassion fatigue, the grief, the shock, and through the efforts of relief agencies, the giving, the open homes and purses, the practical care, and in it, I saw the compassion of Jesus, whether that came from secular or religious groups. It was all sacred giving and caring.

    At church this morning, as the pastor prayed for Haiti, I sat wondering, ‘How WILL they know God in this? How could these people possibly know the supremacy of God in the middle of this kind of disaster? I didn’t have an answer, but I thought of the compassion of Jesus incarnate in the workers who are rushing into Haiti, bringing supplies and medical aid, and of the workers trying to rescue those who are still alive in the rubble.

    I’m glad you mentioned compassion fatigue, because I know that without an ongoing plan, and a long-term social committment to the nation, they will falter. As workers burn out, and they will, and as things begin to function (as if anything really functions well in this situation), and as the next disaster comes, Haiti is in danger of being put aside. That is why it’s important we continue to pray for the workers for the long term.

    Trauma studies show that it is the connection with family and with social networks that heals, and if the Haitians have lost their main networks of support, who shall supply that for them?

    I don’t have answers, only questions, and only prayers, and your posting is lovely in the wake of trying times.

    • Sheila,
      Your comments are very much in keeping with my feelings. recognizing Jesus in the workers, continuing to pray long after the news media has disappeared are the only ways we can respond with God’s heart


    this is a powerful video that calls people to prayer for Haiti – after reading your beautiful blog I thought that you might also apprecaite knowing about this.

  8. Shari,
    Thank you for making me aware of this it is indeed very powerful

  9. Hi there,

    thanks for this post. Very good thoughts! I was just browsing through some ideas how to pray for Haiti ONE YEAR AFTER and i came across this page. Thanks though!
    I could also recommend Compassion International as a very good organization to release kids from poverty in JESUS name! I can highly recommend it.

    Be blessed

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