What’s the Point of Prayer in the Face of a Natural Disaster?


Yesterday, after attending Mass, I ran into two friends, both from Puerto Rico. We talked about the recent hurricanes and their impact on the island. There was no talk about bridges or generators or hospitals. Rather, we spoke of relatives and sadly, of the harrowing experiences of their friends.

I walked away feeling empty and sensing that I could no nothing to help.

If I’m honest, part of me didn’t want to help. After all, it’s much easier to just fade back into my New Jersey suburban neighborhood and return to daily life with power, clean water and high speed internet.

Conscience told me that some kind of bridge had to be built from after that post-Mass moment with my friends to a personal moment of prayer. While I wasn’t able to travel to Puerto Rico, I could, if I was brave enough, pray for those in Puerto Rico suffering from the effects of the hurricane.

Prayer is often like that- you know you can do it but it can still feel insufficient.

Back at home, during a morning prayer time, I began to build that bridge. From a quiet porch on the side of my house, I prayed. Not knowing how to pray for people who have lost everything, my prayers were quite simple.  I prayed for their homes, for their towns and most of all, for their ability to maintain hope.  As a result, my heart expanded and all I could do, pray, was enough.  In those particular moments of prayer, all I could do was the best I could do.

What is the point of prayer when a natural disaster strikes? I do not have all of the answers. What I do know is that if all you can do is pray, that’s what you should do.