Friday, June 26, 2015

Prayer IS Faith in Action

"'Faith' is an action word."

Saturday morning, just about 8:30, and I'm getting ready to pack up my things and head home. That's when my co-worker gently speaks this from across the room.

"Huh?" Oh, no, not now, John. Really? I'm trying to get out of here. John loves to talk about God. And so do I, obviously. There's no laying blame here; when one of us gets the other one started... My auto-start could drain my gas tank. His 10:30 doubles match could come up one short.

"'Faith' is an action word," he repeated. And so it began.

We talked about some of the times we found ourselves, or encouraged others who've found themselves in God's waiting room. But -- especially in today's multi-tasking American culture -- even in the waiting room you do something. John gave the example of a guy who was being held back at his job. John had suggested further education, and honing other skills that might be necessary for the job or promotion God was, in His time, going to provide.

"And even when there's nothing to be done, you've gotta stay in prayer and stay in the Word," I said.

"Oh, no. There's always something you can be doing," he countered. I didn't argue; I was trying to get home, remember?

But I have seen situations where there is nothing "earthly" to be done. A parent on hospice: arrangements are made; it's only a matter of time. Test results pending: you know what you've got, or don't; you know your options; you've read every piece of literature your eyes will tolerate, and you've solicited opinions form every person who will tolerate you; the waiting has begun. Your child is missing: you've gone every place she goes -- more than once; you've called everyone she knows -- more than twice; the police have been notified and they've asked you -- hurt of all hurts -- not to interfere at all in their investigation. God's Waiting Room.

Why do we need to be here? Why can't we just get our answers and go? Even if it's not what we want to hear, at least we can change course and keep going. Isn't the Bible always telling us how short life is? how we're supposed to refrain from being lazy, and work hard for the kingdom? Why must we be stuck here just praying or whatever?

"Just praying." It's that phrase that got me as I thought about these things. I've heard people say, "When all else fails, pray." I know people that wouldn't consider closing their eyes for a moment of quiet, that will fall on their faces when things get tough. Look at the response after 9/11: prayer vigils, patriotism and packed churches. It was all about praying. But now the intensity is gone for most, and there's plenty of things we can do, rather than sit quietly with eyes closed.

Can somebody tell me when it became a good idea to use as a last resort, the God who set all of this in motion, the God who knows each of us inside and out, the God who ransomed each and everyone of us, the God whose love, power and wisdom are beyond measure? Can somebody tell me who decided to try every resource available to us in a finite, corrupt, dying, self-serving world to solve our problems before we take them to God? That's right: Never, and we did. How does that even make sense?

Prayer needs to be our first choice. Our automatic response. Before we make the first phone call. Before we write the check. Before we say one word to that cashier. We need to make God our first resort if we really want to see "faith" in action.

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