“The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this: Our Father in heaven… Matthew 6:7-9 (The Message)
Praying for other people is a right and proper thing to do, but often, the prayer is not complete without an action. There are several old proverbs about the idea of prayer and behavior. One of them, “You can’t pray without moving your feet” is a variation of an old West African proverb, “When you pray, move your feet”. That saying was used by civil rights icon John Lewis, who passed just last year.
What do these sayings mean? Surely one can pray effectively without moving one’s feet. Indeed, that is true in the technical sense. In the practical sense however, perhaps prayer is not really complete without an accompanying action. For example, when we pray for health, we better be practicing some good habits of eating, exercise and sleep. When we pray for a good grade on that exam, we better have studied hard for it. When we pray for the job we applied for, we better be prepared for the interview and have practiced the skills needed for it.
In other words, prayer is not a magic incantation to make things just appear without us doing our part. When we pray for that person who is sick, we may need to complete that prayer with a note, a call, or bringing them a meal. When we pray for our elected leaders, we should also participate in good government by voting and contacting those legislators.
No, we cannot accompany every prayer with an action. It is also true that there are many things that we cannot do a thing about. We just rely upon God who will move in his own way and in his own timing. Sometimes we just acknowledge that we are helpless in a situation. Prayer is the recognition that God is in control of the things we are not. But let us not take the easy way and just say “I’ll pray about that”.
We need to do what we can do to accompany the prayers.
Prayer: Lord, you have given us the power and privilege of prayer. Help us to understand it and honor you with complete prayers, Amen