Team Prayer

The Foundation for Action

On February 14, 2018, a deranged man shot and killed seventeen of his former classmates at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL. Immediately, a slew of people expressed their condolences through “thoughts and prayers.” To many who were heartbroken and frustrated, however, the idea of thoughts and prayers seemed shallow. Thoughts and prayers meant nothing in their minds. They wanted action. More laws. Stricter gun control. Something with substance rather than a passive reactionary response.

But is that all that prayer is—a passive reactionary response to free our consciences in the wake of inaction? Or is it something more? Is it possible that prayer is actually the foundation for action rather than a shallow substitute?

Admittedly, our approach to prayer is too often reactionary rather than proactive. The reasons are numerous. Deep down, we might not believe that prayer truly makes a difference. Or that God cares. Or perhaps we are too busy to pray. Or we are simply unaware until the media thrusts bloody images into our faces.

A False Dichotomy

The choice between praying or taking action presents a false dichotomy. Real prayer is action as well as forming the foundation for physical action. Without prayer, we easily fall into the trap of working nonstop to accomplish little or nothing.

One of the beautiful things about prayer is that it leads to action without the need to violate God-given principles of human freedom. Those who lead, for example, are not called to manipulate and control others, but to welcome the advancement of God’s kingdom in a present situation. When His kingdom comes, good things happen, and human lives are transformed.

Prayer Is Not Passive

Confusing prayer with passivity, I have learned, is one of the more painful mistakes made by the human race. Only prayer that is faithless, dull, and distant from God will create a passive generation. In contrast, those who truly draw near to the Lord through prayer will find their hearts burning with the desire to make a difference in this world. And more often than not, the Lord will direct them in ways to do so. When our lives are in balance according to God’s design, our prayers will form the foundation of our actions, and our actions will bear eternal fruit.

An Amazing Opportunity

Finally, prayer provides an awesome opportunity for those who cannot take physical action to make a huge difference in our world. One day, all of heaven will celebrate the amazing amount of positive change wrought through the prayers of elderly shut-ins, invalids, and otherwise obscure people who are looked down upon by the “movers and shakers” of this world.

This post is an excerpt from the Community Prayer Devotional which will be available in mid-December 2018.