Meanderings of a Minister

Should I Pray About This?
July 14, 2016, 3:59 pm
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 Pray And Act

I can’t tell you how many times I get a variation of this question.  People are facing great decisions and feel paralyzed and aren’t sure when it is time to pray and when it is time to act.  What if the answer was not either/or, but both/and?

In the book of Nehemiah, the people of Israel have returned from exile in Babylon and were being gathered from all over the world.  They had been in Jerusalem for quite some time, but had not repaired the walls of the city.  Nehemiah traveled to Jerusalem from Babylon and inspired the people to work on the wall.  Chapter three of the Book of Nehemiah tells all about the work that began on the wall.

It was not very long before opposition arose from those around Jerusalem who did not want to see the walls rebuilt, the city restored, or the Jewish people reinstated in the land.  They tried everything from discouragement to open opposition in warfare.  They did not want the walls rebuilt because that would lend legitimacy to the Jewish claims over the land and would weaken their own positions in the land.

How did Nehemiah and the people react?  Nehemiah 4:9 tells us, “But we prayed to our God, and because of them we set up a guard against them day and night.”  What did they do?  They prayed.  They also took logical, prudent action.  Yes, they prayed and asked God to help, but they also realized that God would help as they worked in a way that made sense.  They set up a guard to make sure they would know when the enemy advanced on them.  So.  Why did they not just pray?  Why did they not, “Let go and let God”?

Simply put, they prayed in faith and obeyed God in that same faith.  I have talked to many people who have been looking for jobs and they say that they are praying about it as though that gets them out of having to actually go get an application, fill it out, and follow up with the employer until they get the job.  They say that they are praying about it and do not want to actually act on it because they feel that will be interpreted by God as a lack of faith.  Where do we get this idea?

Psalm 1 says that the person who meditates on God’s word is blessed.  Should we just believe God is going to bless us and forget about the whole meditating on scripture thing?  Jesus said that no one sits down to build a tower unless he first sits down to consider the cost.  They did He not say to just have enough faith to believe the tower is there and wait for God to do it?  Why did Noah actually build the Ark instead of just trusting for God to rescue him?

All of these examples involve prayer, faith, trust, and work.  James says we show our faith by the works that the faith produces in our lives.  So we work to show people that we trust God to be enough.  We pray because God is enough.  When we put the two together, then we experience the blessing of God which we want so badly.

That being said, there are some things God will just do so that we might give Him glory.  He might take care of your bill by sending you a check in the mail, but going to work to earn a paycheck is not a lack of faith, but actually an expression of it.  God might heal you, but He might also want you to go to the doctor to receive the medicine that He has allowed us to discover or invent.  God might bring you a spouse, but He might also want you to serve Him with all of your heart in a ministry in your area so you can meet someone else with the same passions you have for serving Him.

So, let’s show our faith by what we do in trusting God to provide through the mind, heart, strength, and ingenuity He has given us WHILE we are praying about everything on our heart.  Let’s not make it either pray or act, but pray AND act.