Prayer is a powerful tool in the arsenal of the Christian. I will not waste my precious few words here disputing that truth, that would be futile. However, I do want to challenge us in our thinking to go beyond the posture of supplication into bold and energetic action.
The Holy Spirit is our intercessor with the Father, the go-between for our prayers and God’s love and power to influence all things seen and unseen. We claim that when we pray God can bring low the mountains, change hearts, create new realities, and move nations. We stand by our prayers as the rock they should be, pouring our hearts out to God in a plea for mercy, justice, and help.
But when do we move past our reliance on God alone and invest ourselves into the situation? When do our prayers become action? I would submit that the role of the Spirit through prayer is to be the unseen power behind our tangible actions.
I have heard it often said “I was praying for you”. Those words are comforting, to know we were remembered in our time of need may be priceless. But I have also heard those words after I have been through a time in which I needed to hear their voice speaking words of encouragement, when I needed to see their faith in action, when mine was waning.
For all the glorious and flowery, impressive prayers we offer up, there is no substitute for our physical presence accompanying our pleas. There is nothing that can prove the passion of our faith like being there. It would be akin to “putting our money where our mouth is”.
I think back to a few years ago when I was called into ministry. I went off across the country on this bold adventure to fulfil this spiritual vision. I had demonstrated my inadequacies to certain leaders but I was experiencing a renaissance of faith that propelled me forward. My steadfastness was short-lived and I crumbled into old patterns of coping, using broken and sinful band aids. It was after those times I heard a couple things, “I prayed you would be strong” and “I wanted to punch you in the gut”. People who knew me, my past and my struggles but also my desire to be free, acted and reacted from a distance. They proclaimed their allegiance and anger when it was all water under the bridge.
My point is this, we must go beyond uttering a simple prayer for people we care about. We must reach out with the love of God in our hearts and be the fleshly counterpart of the Holy Spirit.
After the fact explanations of our earnestness are meaningless when a tragedy has occurred and we notify them when it is all in the rearview mirror.
Could our physical presence mean this much? In a word, YES! When we are tempted beyond what we believe our strength to be, or wounded to the point of spiritual death; a hand holding ours, a hug of understanding support, the actual words of a faithful friend have the power to change an outcome. When we disregard that opportunity we are leaving someone to flail in the deep waters of doubt, when we could be offering a life saving boat in the middle of a raging sea.
We are all susceptible to sins lies and traps. Many of us wouldn’t be where we are apart from the prayerful support of the unseen many on our behalf. Let us not just casually say those prayers and not also ask God if we should do more. It may be that your prayers, coupled with those of others is all you are asked to do. But if you are being led to put action to those prayers, do so faithfully, and promptly. Someone’s life may depend upon it.