Pray About it or Do Something?
. . . Without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you . . . Romans 1:9-11
When my wife and I learn of someone with a newly diagnosed, life-changing illness, I’m quick to say that I’ll pray, while my wife springs into action. She’ll make meals and organize others to do so. She’ll ask, What do you need help with? What can I do? My wife prays, but she also does. When I say I’ll pray, I mean it and I follow through, but I’m more likely to leave all the doing up to God.
In today’s passage, Paul opened his letters to the Christians in Rome by telling them that he was praying for them. He didn’t stop there though. He was also working his way towards them so that he may impart some blessing to them personally. In his absence, he wrote them the letter that we know as the book of Romans. Paul prayed and he did what he could to bless those for whom he prayed.
God has been teaching me this lesson. Often, when I pray, I ask for God to intervene in someone’s life, healing them, or helping them find recovery. When I pray, I hope that God’s blessing comes in some supernatural, miraculous form – lightening from heaven kind of stuff. What if though, God wants his blessing to come through me? What if God’s plan involves using people, like me, to do his work here on Earth? As it turns out, that’s exactly his plan (1 Corinthians 12:12-31).
We don’t have to choose between praying or doing. We can do both. When we see someone struggling, we can pray for God’s will to be done in their lives, but we can also ask God what it is that he wants us to do. When someone is ill, we can offer our help, asking what we can do. When someone is struggling with an addiction, we can lovingly offer the truth and attempt to help him or her get help.
The problem for many of us, is that saying we’ll pray is so much easier than doing. We can and should pray, but if we’re using prayer as an excuse to do nothing, then we’re doing it wrong.