Thursday, October 20

Prayer and Good Intentions Aren't Enough

Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?--James 2:16

The more I listen to Dr. Laura's radio program on KFI, the more opinionated I find myself becoming. Quite often she sets for a very reasonable plan for a solution to a person's problem. She gets right to the heart of the true issue and doesn't leave room for wishy-washy behavior or cop-outs. Dr. Laura regularly insists that good decisions are made when a person takes the focus off of their own emotions and feelings. No matter how a person feels about something, the only way to change things is to change behavior and actions. So often the people who call in to the show are utterly spineless. I doubt that many of them actually have the guts and character to follow-through with her recommendations.

In a similar way, the Bible tells us that faith without accompanying actions isn't entirely viable. How many of us have ever been asked to pray for a friend's needs but don't actually do it? We say we'll pray for their situation, but we don't. Worse yet, there are occasions when we are able to help them out but we think that just praying will be enough involvement for us. It disgusts me that we think this alone makes us good people. Some people go so far as to applaud their own efforts and liken themselves to the good Samaritan.

Prayers and good intentions are good, but they aren't enough. We are called to minister to the needs of others. If someone in the church community mentions that they need something specific, we shouldn't wait around for someone else to meet that need. When a family at church welcomes a new baby, don't just pray that they'll have the strength and stamina to be able to handle the adjustment. Help lighten the load, even in some small way, by bringing dinner over.

As we ask God to help us grow in our faith, we need to be aware that out of our faith comes certain reasonable actions. There is a time for coming alongside our brothers and sisters merely to lend a listening ear, but there is also a time when we need to jump in the car and take a friend out for a frapuccino or some comfort food. We shouldn't just pray that God will work in the situation; we should be working in it as well, particularly if we are gifted in an area that will help minister to the person or people in need.

I'm not suggesting we all should aim for developing a "save the world complex." Rather, I'm saying that there are times when prayer and good intentions aren't enough. We need to have faith with shoes on. Our actions should be clear evidence of the living, breathing faith that we profess.

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