To be truthful, this headline irritated me even while I could sympathize. I have those friends, who, when things are difficult, will place a hand on my arm and say, “I’m praying you.” I find it very comforting but the truth is that there are times when I could use something more concrete to help get through a crisis. Headlines like this echo that sentiment. People are saying that as nice as it is that our leaders have compassion with those who are suffering, we need action and we need it now. I agree. I get it, but the frustration that so many of us are feeling is not because we want action. It is due to our lack of understanding of a simple thing like prayer.
Many times I have offered to pray when I feel that it is all I can offer. My dear friend recently had surgery nearly 3,000 miles away from me. I couldn’t be with her physically but I was at her side in prayer as she healed. There have been times when I hear of a problem but I do not have a close friendship with the person so I feel awkward not knowing what may be needed or if my help would even be welcomed. These are times when you may feel that all you have is a prayer, but don’t discount that prayer. Sometimes we forget that there is great power in prayer.
The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
Sadly, prayers can be hollow and empty if they are not backed up by action. At some point, I will find that I have to get up off my knees and put hands and feet to those prayers. Prayer should be a foundation of our actions and not the action itself. Prayer should be the start of each day and form a framework for us to work within. If our compassion starts in the heart of a prayer, then it will surface in our actions throughout that day. But if our compassion starts and ends in a prayer that we never act upon, it will fail and wither before its promise can be played out.
One more point, if I may. Prayers that are driven by compassion and a heart to help are formidable but let’s not forget how prayers should start. That helping heart must also be a humble heart, not looking for its own glory but following God’s leading. Your plans, as wonderful as they may be, must give way when God’s hands point you elsewhere. Humble yourself and seek God through prayer to find direction before taking that next step.
If my people, who are called by my name,
will humble themselves and pray
and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways,
then I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
2 Chronicles 7:14
I can understand the public anger when so many atrocities have bloodied our world. We want to see our leaders stand up and defend us. We long for the hate and fear of these days to be nothing but a memory. Let us be a country where our actions and our leader’s actions start with humble hearts leading to sincere prayers. Ask God to show us how to turn our prayerful words to actions. Don’t let this mocking headline deter us from praying – praying earnestly to a compassionate God who longs to hear from His children.