Why Do Christians Pray After a Disaster?

Yesterday, as the devastating tornado ripped a path of destruction through Moore, Oklahoma, I watched the storm play out through the Facebook status updates of a friend who lived in the area. This friend is a Christian, and her response is similar to that of many believers in the face of such an event. Earlier in the day she posted:
“Praying the storms won’t hit.”
Then, as it became evident that this prayer was unanswered,
“Hang on, my friends.”
Followed by a Bible verse:
"Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you. 1 Peter 5:7”
Next status:
“We are in a safe shelter. Praying for all those in the path in the storm. Jesus, protect us!”
“Lord, we beg your mercies upon us. Praying for the two schools that were hit. Please keep the children & teachers safe.”
A while later, one of her friends commented:
“The schools were leveled.”
Did news of this unanswered prayer faze them? No!
“OMGosh! Prayers! And more prayers!!”
“I have no words, Holy Spirit, intercede...”
I understand that people turn to their faith in times of crisis. I understand they are desperate for anything which might turn aside the disaster heading their way. I know that they want to feel that there is Someone in control who will protect them. I get that.

What I don’t get is that, after their prayers prevented nothing; after the devastation has happened, and their god did not intervene, why do they continue to pray to this same god in the aftermath?

Why would you say this:

After your god let this happen to a school?

Who would want to be comforted by someone who was able to help during a crisis but stood idly by?

To use a vivid illustration: what if a woman was being raped while an armed cop watched, casually munching on a doughnut. Even though the woman was pleading for help, he did nothing. After the rapist is finished with her and has left, you would ask this cop to comfort the woman and give her post-rape counseling? Hell no! Why then is God treated differently?

I guess the need to maintain their belief system is stronger than all of the contrary evidence. What sheer force of will it must take to suppress such cognitive dissonance. When it comes to divine intervention, absence of evidence is evidence of absence and therefore, to keep the idea of their god alive, they must ignore the obvious. At all costs, they must shield their minds from the thought that they might be living in a universe unsupervised by a loving Creator.

So here are some questions for you, readers:

If you are a Christian, does something like this shake your faith in God at all? Do you feel an inner conflict about praying for the victims of a disaster in which their own prayers for protection and deliverance were unanswered? Can you truly speak of ‘miraculous’ survivals, while ignoring all those who did not survive?

If you are a non-believer, have you had any success in getting Christians to think about how their god fails to intervene? Have you troubled their minds with the hypocrisy of post-disaster prayers to a neglectful Heavenly Father? How can we bring this to their attention without being douches? We certainly don’t want to exploit this time of suffering for our own purposes (as religion often does) but events like this could be subject matter for future discussions.

In the meantime, what matters is those who are suffering as a result of this devastating tornado. We must not forget to do our part to bring real help to the situation. It is up to us to do what gods cannot!

Written by J. M. Green