Inaction Nullifies Prayer

Let me begin by making something crystal clear. If you read this and you’re assuming that I’m saying Prayer is pointless, you are reading this post incorrectly.

Alright, let’s get right into it. In the past few weeks, a whole load of crap has been happening in this country. You’d have to have been living under a rock to not have been aware of it. To be honest, a lot of evil has been happening all around the world. Some we know of, some we don’t. Some we care about, some we don’t. Whatever the issues maybe – different people respond differently. There are those who respond by changing their Facebook profile picture to raise awareness to an incident. Others rant about the evils of this world on television or on their blogs, others send their love and good vibes, and then there are those who send their prayers.

I don’t know about you – but during these horrible events that have taken place, be it the Paris shootings or the Orlando Pulse Nightclub shootings or any of the other tragic events that show the depravity of man and the depths of evil, I’ve seen Christians get on social media and post about sending “their thoughts and prayers” to those affected. Some of these posts are exposition-heavy and emotional while there are some that just say “sending our prayers to *insert tragic event victims here.*”

In response to these posts about sending prayers, I’ve seen plenty of non-religious posts mocking them. I’ve seen posts where the gist basically states that our prayers are pointless. Prayers, to those who don’t believe, are like phone calls that are never answered. They see us praying, then tomorrow another shooting occurs and they point and question us – what did your prayers accomplish?

(Let me add here that I’m no expert in religion. This is just me writing about what I’ve witnessed and forming an opinion on it. It might be completely wrong. I’m aware of that.)

Some Christians will argue that this mockery of our prayers is persecution. To an extent, I’ll agree. But at some point I have to tell them to grow a spine and deal with it. Mockery isn’t getting you killed. Mockery isn’t taking away your freedom to pray. Deal with it. You were warned in scripture that this would happen. 2 Chronicles 36:16 says, “but they continually mocked the messengers of God, despised His words and scoffed at His prophets…” This is a type of persecution I can live with.

Look, I could get on the case of the mockers and chastise them for doing what they are. But I can’t hold them to the same regard as I hold Christians. In fact, Paul asks in 1 Corinthians 5:12, “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?” I can’t speak to what non-believers say or do, because it’s not in my place to do so. That is God’s job.

However, while I’m not judging them for their mockery of our prayers, I have to consider where they’re coming from. If all someone sees in a Christians’ life is that they are praying, but doing nothing else and then tragedy strikes, it is hard to fault them for their mockery. Think about it: when we see people who send “good vibes,” yet doing nothing else, aren’t we thinking the same thing? Aren’t we mocking them (loudly or silently) about how good vibes are simply silly or pointless?

Listen, I’m not comparing prayer to good vibes. I fully and truly believe in the power of prayer. I do believe that God hears us through our prayers. I do believe that not praying is NOT a solution. That being said, there is a story I read that I want to share.

There was once a man who was forced on his roof because of a flood. As he was on his roof, he prayed that God would save him. After a day, a man in a canoe came by to get him. The man said, “I don’t need a canoe, God will save me.” The next day, a police motorboat came by to get him. The man responded, “I don’t need a police motorboat, God will save me.” On the third day, a helicopter came by to get him. He said, “I don’t need a helicopter, God will save me.” The next day the man died and was facing God. He asked Him, “God, I prayed and prayed, yet I died. Did you not hear my prayers?” God responded, “I did. I sent you a man in a canoe, a police motorboat, and a helicopter and you ignored all of them. What more were you looking for?”

This little story is an oversimplification of prayer, but I think it gets the point across. Inaction nullifies prayer. Again, I do believe in the power of prayer. However, if all we do is pray and sit in our homes twiddling our thumbs hoping change will happen – I doubt it will. To pull from scripture again:

  • So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. James 4:17
  • And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. Luke 12:47
  • For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. 2 Peter 2:21

I get it. Sometimes, we just cannot do anything but pray. When some terrorist goes and shoots up a joint, we really can’t do much beyond pray for the return of Christ and for an end of all this evil. But, how about the things we can do something about? There is a group of people I’ve met in South Carolina, that prays for a community in the city of Columbia that needs to be taken care of. Then they go and physically serve that community. There are those people who back their prayers with action. These folks don’t have to worry about being mocked. They have proof of the effects of their prayer – their actions. Even if these guys and gals are mocked, they have the backbone to take it. Because their faith is stronger that “persecution.”

I’m not saying I do all of this perfectly. I admit (as much as I hate it), that I’m struck with apathy more than anything else. Which leads to a lack of both prayer and action. This whole post, while focused on actions and prayers is also a wake up letter to me. That I need to reflect the scriptures better than I have.

I hope this post helps you, Christian, to think. For those that do not believe, I do hope this shows that we do attempt to perform actions along with our prayer. Our actions may fail, but prayer never does. We may not see it immediately. But our actions come from our prayers.

– αß

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