As believers, we’re told to pray about everything. And rightfully so. It keeps us in tune with God. It builds our friendship with Him, and it acknowledges our dependency upon Him. But in some cases, we’re called to do more than pray. We’re called to get up and do something about whatever the problem is.
Moses found that to be true. Exodus 13 tells the story of the Egyptians chasing the Israelites after their exodus. The people panicked when they realized that their captors were almost upon them. Moses said, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm” (v. 13).
But God Himself spoke up: “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving! Pick up your staff and raise your hand over the sea. Divide the water so the Israelites can walk through the middle of the sea on dry ground…’” (vv. 15-16).
Prayer is good, but there comes a time when we need to move on those prayers. Here’s an example from my own life:
As a mission leader, I’m responsible to help organize short-term ministry trips to Eastern Europe. One of my biggest challenges is finding people to fill our teams. I take my responsibility very seriously because the ramifications are huge.
Without volunteers, we have no teams. Without teams, we cannot host evangelistic family camps. Without camps, our career missionary staff working in these post-Communist countries have limited opportunities to build relationships with unbelievers who would otherwise never cross their path. And that could mean the difference between life and death for countless men and women. See what I mean about huge ramifications?
I could pray and pray and pray for God to bring us the volunteers we need to get the job done (believe me, I do that!). Or I could combine those prayers with action. And so, my husband and I invest time, energy, and resources hosting our booth at missions conferences, speaking in churches, meeting interested individuals for coffee to discuss opportunities, and more.
Here’s another example: Gone are the days when publishers did the marketing to raise awareness of a book’s existence. Now it’s the author’s job. As an author, I could pray and pray and pray for God to get the message of my book into the hands of people who need to read it (and I do that). Or I could combine my prayers with practical action. And so, I speak at women’s events and I pursue media interviews. I write magazine articles and a monthly online newsletter. The list goes on because I’m called to action. It’s not because God can’t get the job done on His own. It’s because He wants my involvement.
Sometimes I feel a tension. For example – at what moment do I take action, what should that action look like, and how much do I do? That’s where prayer comes into play once again – asking God to answer my questions and then trusting Him to guide me to do the right thing.
Have you ever struggled with this tension? If so, what insights can you share about prayer and action?