I have a complicated relationship with “thoughts and prayers.”

The phrase has become the familiar refrain after each mass shooting, echoed in tweets and statements offering condolences to families and communities shaken by tragedy. Like many others affected by gun violence, I can’t help but feel frustrated and cynical when I hear another line about “thoughts and prayers.”

It has been six years since I was shot when a gunman opened fire at New River Community College in Virginia. With the news of each mass shooting, each child dead after finding a loaded weapon in their home, and each suicide or senseless gun death, I wonder if action from those in power will ever follow the thoughts and prayers.

As a shooting survivor, I believe in action. At the same time, I believe in the power of prayer. I know firsthand what living through a shooting does to a mind and what a bullet does to a body, and I believe that my recovery and healing is a direct result of prayers that were prayed for me.

It is easy to feel powerless in the aftermath of a mass shooting. As we mourn the lives lost in El Paso, Dayton, and every other community where gun violence is an everyday reality, it can seem impossible to find the words to pray.

Being a survivor doesn’t mean I can singlehandedly solve the crisis of gun violence. What I can offer, though, is insight into some specific ways to pray for survivors as one part of our response to gun violence.

Pray for physical wounds, pain, and future treatments.

Managing bullet wounds is often a process of trial and error, where it can take days for doctors to figure out how to provide comfort. Many survivors face years of recovery, including surgeries and physical rehabilitation. Pray ...

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