By Shewanda Riley

When I wrote my column last week about the Buffalo shooting, I had no idea that there would be another even more horrific mass shooting that would take place less than two weeks later. Even though one took place in a grocery store and the other took place in an elementary school in south Texas, they share sad similarities. I’m not referring to the ages of the shooters (18 years old) or the fact that they both used AR-15 rifles.   What strikes me about both is the reaction to both.

Even though there have been many reports about what happened in both instances, in addition to the lingering sadness that I mentioned last week, there is also a lingering helplessness. Despite the best efforts to keep folks safe, there are many unanswered questions that remain, One of the most significant and that cannot be answered fully is “Why?” And more specifically, why did God allow this happen?  I don’t know if anyone has an answer to that one or will ever have an answer to that one.

One thing I do know is that we take all of these unanswered questions to God. I’d like to offer a brief prayer of comfort and peace as we try to make sense of senseless acts of violence and murder.

“Heavenly Father, I ask you to bring comfort and peace to your people now. For those directly impacted by the shootings in Buffalo, New York and Uvalde, Texas, we ask for an extra measure of your grace for the grieving families and friends.  It says in Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” We pray that you will allow grace and mercy to guard the hearts and minds of those who are dealing with the aftermath of the shock and horror of the sudden deaths of their loved ones.  May they feel the comfort of your presence especially when they need it the most.

For our nation God we pray that you would have mercy on us. We need your mercy now more than ever before. We need your mercy to protect us from dangers seen and unseen from those who plan to harm us and our loved ones. Remind us of the truth in 2 Chronicles 7:14 “if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” Show us how to turn from our wicked ways and position ourselves so that we are no longer arrogant or proud. Allow our stubborn knees to bend so that we can once again hear from you. We need our nation and the world to heal from the violence, anger, rage, hate and murder that seem to have overtaken us. Let love and compassion for our fellow humans prevail over evil. Let us see the manifestation of the power of your transformative love. Amen and Amen!

Shewanda Riley is a Fort Worth, Texas based author of “Love Hangover: Moving From Pain to Purpose After a Relationship Ends” and “Writing to the Beat of God’s Heart: A Book of Prayers for Writers.”   Email her at or follow her on Twitter @shewanda.