But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act—they will be blessed in their doing. – James 1:22-25
When our son, Andrew, was a very small child, around three or four years of age, he had a series of bad dreams and he sometimes woke up afraid. We would comfort him, we would pray together, and we would assure him we were always there.
We also talked about it at bedtime, reminding Andrew he could always pray to God if he woke up scared. One evening, after the routine story and prayer, we said goodnight and asked if he remembered what to do if he woke up from a bad dream….
“I know mama and daddy, I know,” he said happily. “I pray to Jesus…” then he pulled something out from behind his pillow… “I pray to Jesus and I have my fly-swatter right here!”
He really was ready for whatever! Even as a toddler, Andrew knew that prayer is a great thing, but prayer accompanied by action is even better.
There is a lot going on in this world right now that needs our prayer. I believe with all my heart that prayer is a powerful intervention that – while full with mystery and beyond understanding – prayer absolutely makes a difference. Prayer also brings us closer to God, and as we draw closer to God we ourselves are changed, empowered, challenged, and directed to be more effective witnesses to love and light.
What we cannot do, must not do, is to use the promise of prayer as an empty platitude.
So, dear fellow Americans – and most especially our politicians – I am very glad that you are praying for Puerto Rico, and praying for the victims of mass shootings and their families. However, I am firmly convinced that if you really do draw near to God, if you humbly seek God’s will, and if you invest yourselves in an ongoing relationship with Jesus, then you will also be moved to action.
But if you simply leverage God’s good name in order to make yourself look acceptable in public, and use Almighty God as a cover for more inaction, then I pray that you will soon be revealed for the hypocrites you are!
Our son Andrew may have only had a fly-swatter in hand, but for him it was as potent a weapon as David’s small handful of stones when facing Goliath, or the boy’s basket of bread and fish that was more than enough to feed a hungry multitude.
Because when we believe with all of our heart, and then follow that faith not only with conviction but action, just about anything becomes possible.
Believing… and praying… and doing our best – Derek