Friday, October 14, 2011

Faith Without Works is Dead, Prayer Too

I'll probably hurt some feelings and cause others to bob their heads in agreement. Faith without works is dead; similarly, prayer without action is just a bunch of words. You won't get to heaven via prayer group. You must have something that you can claim to have accomplished.

I suppose that we should break up prayers into different types. There are the ceremonial prayers where you ask God for his blessing and praise him. You do that out of respect. Basically, this is giving God props for being awesome.

There is also the type of prayer where you are asking God for help, whether it be the strength to get through some hardship or whatever; a petition. I have a variation of that kind of prayer I call idle prayer.

With petitions, you pray for things like serenity and strength to deal with the challenges before you. You ask for those qualities that will help carry you through to take action. It all comes back to you. If you have pain, pray for endurance until the Ibuprofen kicks in. If you are unemployed, you pray for the ability to see opportunities that you may have missed. You pray for the things that will enable you to take action to resolve your problem.

I'm not going to discuss whether God actually grants these prayers or if it simply is a person meditating on a problem and priming their mind to focus on the issue at hand. That's for another discussion.

Idle prayer is where you ask for stuff that cannot be granted, like world peace. You ask that God help you defeat the other football team, while they pray the same thing. You ask for things that are completely out of your control or ability to influence.

It's the equivalent of being charitable by asking the government to take care of the poor and hungry. YOU are not being charitable nor compassionate. Asking God to do things and leaving it at that absolves you of taking any action. I'm sorry; things don't work like that.

We've all heard of the joke about a person stranded on the roof of their house after a flood, asking God to save her. People on boats and helicopters come by offering to help only to be turned away because God is going to save her. It's exactly like that. God provides you the resources to effect your own salvation; but, it requires action.

Your faith and your prayers must be followed by actions and works that demonstrate your co-commitment. If you want to end world hunger, start with people in your community. You don't need a government program or God to do it. Find people in need, befriend them and then invite them over for dinner often. Donate food to pantries. Volunteer.

Many of the big problems that we ask God to handle can be handled by you. You won't feed, clothe, shelter, or protect the world; but you can help a few of your neighbors. If we all took action, it would go a long ways.

I guess what I'm saying is that when you pray, unless it is the praise-God ceremonial type, understand that you are committing yourself to do something to achieve your petition. What is it exactly that God can accomplish through you? Ask for wisdom, knowledge, strength, inspiration, and such to help you make things happen.  Have specific works in mind for your faith and prayers. Put some skin in the game.

That's my two cents.

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