God didn’t just give us hands to fold in prayer. He gave us hands capable of action. This is my newest resolution for myself: No more passive prayers.
Don’t misunderstand. Praying is very important to me, for Christians, as well as people of many other faiths. But I think sometimes it’s easy to trick ourselves into thinking that prayer is the only help we can offer to others in need. I think it’s easy to underestimate the power of our own two hands.
If someone is sick, praying for them is a good start. But if you ask God to heal, or bring comfort, or whatever, and then leave it at that, you’re missing an essential piece of the solution: YOU. You aren’t a doctor, you say? Fine. Send a (sincere) card or letter. Offer to make a meal for the person, or for their family. Help raise money for the person’s care or treatment.
Many times people pray for miracles, but aren’t willing to be the miracle.
Jim Carrey said it in Bruce Almighty: “Be the miracle.” And it might sound cheesy, but it’s exactly what we all need to do. Praying is good. But don’t pray if you aren’t willing to be the answer to that prayer.
You aren’t religious, you say? Fine. Allow me to use a different example for the same principle.
Everyone has certain ambitions in life. Everyone’s goals are a little different, so let me be general. Let’s say you want to be a successful businessperson … Success can be defined however you like. Money, fame, relevance, whatever. Being successful is your dream. You think about it. You talk about it. You even concoct ways to make it happen. All of that is fine and good, and essential even. But without taking action, the dream will never become reality.
It isn’t enough to dream it, or pray it, if you aren’t willing to do it and be it.
So what is responsible for this seemingly random post? My feelings of utter helplessness upon hearing about the earthquakes, aftershocks, and subsequent tsunamis in Japan. My first instinct was to pray for the people affected. And as many of you already know, I am a Facebook junkie. I noticed many of my Facebook friends were promoting prayer and praying for the Japanese as well. Not that this is a bad thing, merely incomplete. A good friend and someone I respect very much made a valid and cutting point. He said, “Here’s an interesting idea: Instead of praying for Japan, let’s all do something that actually helps, like, send donations.”
It was like a lightbulb went on in my spiritual life. A painful, humbling, and much-needed lightbulb.
Those of us who do pray as part of our faith make it easy for people outside faith to be cynical when our prayers aren’t followed by action.
Prayers and dreams alike are meaningless if they are only thoughts and words. If you aren’t willing to act to bring about the desired result, then your motivation behind the words was probably wrong to begin with. I believe God wants us to communicate with Him through prayer. But I also know He wants to communicate with the world through our actions.
“You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.” James 2:22
“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3:18