The horror of the terrorist attacks on September 11 is indelibly etched in the hearts and souls of all Americans. Who of us will ever be able to forget the image of hijacked passenger airliners diving into the Trade Towers, the Pentagon, or the hills of Pennsylvania? Or the thousands of innocent lives lost, or the painful shredding of our national sense of well-being? It's a calamity that none of us could have imagined only a short time ago.

Are goodness and hope and God to be found in the ashes? I believe so. Certainly, for those most directly affected, it may be too soon to believe any answers or to receive any comfort. But I believe that answers and comfort will come. As a nation, we've only begun to emerge from shock, and grief and loss will be with us for years. Yet for every life lost we're already seeing thousands of acts of heroism and generosity. May God graciously grant his peace to every person who suffers.

These are times that strip away the places, routines, and assumptions that had seemed most real to us, and had been most often the measure of our wealth. We're left feeling impoverished, vulnerable, and perhaps abandoned by God. Feeling, in other words, utterly mortal.

These are times when we turn to prayer. And in that turning I find great hope. My friend Max Lucado wrote recently, "This is a different country than it was a week ago. We're not as self-centered as we were. We're not as self-reliant as we were. Hands are out. Knees are bent. This is not normal. And I have to ask the question, 'Do we want to go back to normal?' Perhaps the best response to this tragedy is to refuse to go back to normal."

I agree with Max. In fact, it is when normal living is no longer adequate that real prayer flourishes best. Each ...

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