“This is the disaster of a century for our city.”
My friend and Texas resident Josh Hemphill wrote these words to describe the catastrophic impact of Hurricane Harvey on the city of Houston. And there’s no other term to describe it than catastrophic. One of America’s most populous cities is underwater, and other communities along the gulf face a situation that’s just as dire.
How can we help? In what ways can we pray? To answer these questions for myself, I reached out to friends in the area. Here are some of their suggestions.
1. Pray for first responders.
First responders have heroically waded through waters and toiled long hours to serve flood-ravaged residents of Houston and surrounding areas. They’re exhausted, drained and weary. Pray that they would have strength to continue and that they would be encouraged in their service.
2. Pray for local churches.
Amid the flooding and chaos, local churches are actively ministering to their communities. They’re opening their doors, offering shelter, giving food and emergency aid and hosting emergency relief teams. Let’s pray for their efforts.
“Pray that their responses will be pro-active, strong, committed for the long-term. And pray that churches would equip individual members to share the good news in word and in deed by their love and assistance,” Hemphill said.
In addition to helping with people’s physical needs, churches will also address their emotional and spiritual needs. “Flooding is traumatic,” Hemphill explained. “We have a city of people that are anxious even though the flooding is over. Pray that our churches can minister to those people that have that need.”
3. Pray for endurance.
The rain may have ceased, but the recovery has just begun. Let’s pray that those affected by the floods would have endurance in this lengthy recovery. “Pray that people would have loving, strong, patient hearts. This is going to be a marathon, not a sprint — for individuals and communities,” says Texas resident Wendy Fox.
Hemphill agreed. “Houston will not bounce back. It will be clawing back for years,” he said. Pray that the people of Texas would have endurance — after the relief teams and news cameras leave.
4. Pray for the poor and needy.
Wealthy Texas residents may be able to bounce back quickly from Harvey, but other groups may face a more difficult recovery.
In particular, let’s pray for the poor, who have endured a life-altering, financially devastating event. Pray for those who now find themselves homeless. Pray for the elderly, who have had to be evacuated from their homes and care facilities.
Also, pray for internationals. Houston is one of the most diverse cities in the nation, and it is home to more people groups and languages than New York City. “Many of these internationals are refugees,” says Texas resident Ashley Burk. “They are still learning English and live in some of these low-lying areas. I can only imagine the language barriers and what effect that is having on these people.” Pray that relief workers would be able to overcome language barriers to serve these people.
So when you pray for Texas, say a special prayer for the poor, the elderly and the sojourners.
5. Pray that God would use you to help.
The people of Texas have a long road to recovery. Pray that you would discern how God is calling you to help. Perhaps God is calling you to give money towards the relief efforts. Perhaps God is also calling you to volunteer your time to go serve.
Either way, consider giving to or serving through an organization like the North American Mission Board. Or you could give directly to a local church in the area with a clear program to help the weakest neighbors.
Either way, be generous in your prayers — and pray that God would make you generous in how you respond to Hurricane Harvey.
How else would you recommend that we pray for Texas?