On Friday, August 16th, a 22-year old college baseball player lost his life in Duncan, Oklahoma when three bored teenagers decided they wanted to kill someone. Christopher Lane, an Australian who was on a baseball scholarship at East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma, was visiting his girlfriend in Duncan when he was tragically shot and killed while out for a run.
The three teens, Chancey Luna, 16, James Francis Edwards, Jr., 15, and Michael Dewayne Jones, 17, were arrested. Luna and Edwards have been charged with first-degree murder, and Jones was charged with using a vehicle in the discharge of a weapon and accessory to first-degree murder after the fact.
The rampant spread of youth violence is not only on national and international news, but is also found in our own backyard in Hampton Roads. According to a recent Daily Press article, 2013 homicides in Hampton Roads, in the combined municipalities comprising the Hampton Roads area, there have been a total or 64 homicides. Among those arrested for the crimes, 16 individuals are between the ages of 15 and 20.
"The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy." John 10:10a
The time to sit at home reading the paper and asking "why? why?" has passed.
It's time the church gathers at schools and playgrounds and neighborhoods and community centers to join hands and pray for the children. Organize your congregation to have monthly prayer walks at local schools. Pray for the children who will sit at desks and walk the halls and eat lunches and play on playgrounds.
Not sure what to pray?
In terms of spiritual warfare, John Piper shares a list of the forms of satanic opposition:
Satan works in the hearts of the sons of disobedience (Ephesians 2:2); he blinds unbelievers (2 Corinthians 4:4) and plants them throughout the world (Matthew 13:39); he deceives the whole world (Revelation 12:9); he does signs and wonders to lead astray if possible even the elect (2 Thessalonians 2:9; Matthew 24:24); he holds people captive to do his will (2 Timothy 2:25ff, Luke 11:21ff); he takes the word away when it is sown (Matthew 13:4, 19); he gives out authority to the world rulers (Luke 4:6; Revelation 13:2); he uses people to hinder others (Acts 13:10); he thwarts mission plans (1 Thessalonians 2:18) and he throws ministers in prison (Revelation 2:10).
In addition to spiritual warfare prayers to address the items listed above, there are many good resources readily available online on how to specifically pray for children. Among them are the following:
- Jon Bloom's Desiring God blog post of March 7th, he offers a list of Seven Things to Pray for Your Children
- Compassion International provides a list of 52 Ways to Pray for Children
- Raising Godly Children provides a printable list of 31 Biblical Virtues to Pray for Your Children
Bloom (Desiring God) reminds us, "So pray for your children. Jesus promises us that if we ask, seek, and knock the Father will give us good in return (Luke 11:9-13), even if the good isn't apparent for 40 years."
As we contemplate the ways to pray for our children, take some time to pray for the family and loved ones of Christopher Lane as they try to make sense of such a senseless loss of life. And pray for the three who are charged in taking that life.
It's time the church rises up in Hampton Roads and stand together to tell the enemy, "You will not take another child."
"The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." John 10:10