This morning as I prepare to go to church, I find myself thinking about Wichita last Sunday and praying, "God, please don't let anyone get shot in church today."
But immediately I question that prayer and consider: God does not stop most of the bad things that happen in this world. Perhaps Dr. Tiller and others were praying last week that no extremist would walk up and destroy the peace of that Pentecost Sunday.
Most likely Dr. Tiller and his wife started every day with that prayer.
I do believe in "the power of prayer"--that standing before the Creator in fervent prayer can alter events in this world, by means such as changing the behavior of humans, making someone not board a plane or walk across a particular street.
I believe God averted further death by many means on September 11, 2001.
But bad things do happen on this planet, even to those who are close to God in prayer, listening to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
Example: Jesus in Gethsemane. That prayer, "Nevertheless, Thy [permissive--not intentional] will be done" accepts that evil exists.
Surely Dr. Tiller prayed such a prayer as he continued to do his work, go to church, and live his life.
Therefore, I amend my prayer: "Oh Divine Wisdom, be with each of us who enter your house today. Protect us from evil--but in the case of rampant evil that we cannot stop through our petitions without expecting a thunderbolt from heaven--give us courage to accept your decision to create a world in which "all creation groans and travails in pain" (Romans 8:22) until your wisdom and Holy Spirit truly reign.