Praying is Not Good Enough

Please don’t misunderstand me. This post is not to bash prayer. It is not to say that prayer is useless and unworthy of your time. But, like the title states, it is to declare that there are times when prayer alone is not good enough.

Let me restate before I go any further because I don’t want to turn people off: I believe praying is good. I believe prayer is even necessary. It builds our relationship with our heavenly father, it acts as a weapon of spiritual warfare, it helps us overcome temptation, and it helps us determine God’s will for our lives. The Bible teaches us to pray on a regular basis, and I do believe there is much worth in that. I don’t always do the best job of it, but I believe we should strive to do it.

Prayer, however, is not always good enough.

That may sound contradictory to some believers. We pray to God and God can do all things, thus prayer should be enough. But prayer is not the be-all, end-all for every situation.

“Thoughts and prayers” are commonly espoused as an antidote to the world’s ailments. But for humanity’s egregious sins “thoughts and prayers” may just not be enough to get the job done, to right the wrongs (especially if you forget after a week and move on to the next flavor of outrage).

Sometimes, in addition to prayer, we need to take action. We need to challenge the status quo, especially when it’s hurting others. We need to question our leaders and speak out against their malpractice. We need to take stock of our society and take a stand when we see injustice.

To be honest, much of society doesn’t care if we’re praying for them. What makes a real difference in their eyes is when we take action. People respond to tangible works. The mistreated, marginalized, and maligned want to see that someone is going to fight for them in a palpable, real way.

Jesus didn’t just pray for the merchants hawking their wares in the holy temple, he overturned their tables and beat them with a whip in righteous anger. The Good Samaritan didn’t just send thoughts and prayers to the man beaten and robbed on the roadside. Numerous followers of Christ were jailed or executed for publicly speaking up for what they knew was right.

You don’t fight discrimination and hate with prayer alone.

You pray, but then you leave your comfy couch and go do something about it.

You staying in your comfort zone isn’t going to help anybody. Yes it’s much easier to pray about a situation than put yourself in the middle of it. But leaving our comfort zones is exactly what Christians have been called by Jesus to do. I leave the following verses as a small selection of biblical evidence to support my plea:

Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy (Proverbs 31:8-9).

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (James 2:14-17).

But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. (1 John 3:17-18)

He shall seduce with flattery those who violate the covenant, but the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action. (Daniel 11:32).

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. (Matthew 25:35-36).

So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. (James 4:17)

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