By Dawn Onley
Prayer is an action word, like love.
We don’t just utter it and forget about it. We have to demonstrate it. The power comes, in part, by what we do.
Prayer has legs. And feet. And arms and hands, for that matter.
Too many of us treat prayer like it’s some type of magic. “Ask and you shall receive,” like God is Santa Claus hiding the gifts we prayed for under the tree on Christmas morning.
“When the Bible says God will give you the desires of your heart, it does not mean God is Santa Claus,” explains Bishop T.D. Jakes. “It means God will give you the dream and the desire to see it come true and the ability to push it to the next level.”
When we pray, we are asking for God to move in our lives or in the lives of people that we love. We are probably asking him to fix something. Prayer relies on faith, but it should also motivate us to act. Prayer doesn’t absolve us from doing, rather it should prompt us into action.
“You pray for the hungry, then you feed them. This is how prayer works,” said Pope Francis.
I think that is an important distinction. It makes no sense to pray for world peace or to end homelessness if we are not willing to do our part to help clothe and feed the homeless and to make this world more peaceful. I have a plaque in my house that I have come to really love. It reads: “God helps those who help themselves.”
By our faith we are healed. Yet, faith without works is dead, according to the Bible.
I believe that God uses us when he answers our prayers. I’ve witnessed prayer working when I’ve worked – summoning strength that I didn’t know I had. Strength I could have only received by God, through prayer. I’ve experienced the pull of God’s answers after I’ve labored through the push of my questions. This push-pull is our two-way conversation with our higher power. We share, God listens, God does a work through us, with us.
We are always an important part of the prayer equation. As Bishop Jakes says, God gives us the desire, the dream and the ability. What will we do with it? Will we squander it or will we realize it?
Pray as if you have everything to lose. Work as if you’ve already won.