Before I dive into the topic of the title, I want to mention that the Bible instructs us to “pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Believers in Jesus should cultivate a prayerful attitude. We can engage in an ongoing conversation with God. That, however, is not what I want to focus on today. What I want to do now is clarify that often prayer alone is not enough. We are often called to do more than pray.
More than Pray
Mark Batterson writes in Draw the Circle: “One of the defining moments in my prayer life happened a decade ago. I was in a small group with a friend who worked for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at Georgetown University. Jeremy was working on a shoestring budget, and their campus ministry needed a computer. He shared the request at the end of our meeting, and I agreed to pray for it, but when I started praying for it, I felt that the Lord wanted me to stop praying. It was like the Holy Spirit said, “Why are you asking Me? You’re the one with the extra computer!” I quit praying in mid-sentence. I told Jeremy we didn’t need to pray about it because I had an extra computer he could have.” You see, Mark realized at that moment, he was called to do more than pray. He could physically meet his friend’s need. Instead of just asking God on behalf of his friend, he could be the answer to the prayer.
In Joshua 7, God’s people lose a surprising battle for the little city of Ai. They were stunned. It should have been an easy victory. Joshua tore his clothes, and he and the other leaders began to pray (and complain to God) about what happened. God’s response is interesting. In verse 10, God says to Joshua, “Stand up! What you are doing down on your face?” Essentially, God tells Joshua to stop praying and go help the people obey Him! The problem was not that the people weren’t praying enough; it was that they weren’t obeying enough.
Let’s face it. There are some things we just don’t need to pray about. We don’t need to pray about whether or not we should love our spouse. You don’t need to pray about showing kindness to your neighbor. We don’t need to pray about blessing someone when it is in our power to do so. You don’t need to pray about giving generously or serving sacrificially. When the right thing to do is in front of us, we need to do it!
Please don’t misconstrue what I’m saying. Pray about everything. But at some point, you can’t just pray. You need to act! You must be a doer of the Word (James 1:22). Jesus didn’t say, “Well prayed, my good and faithful servant.” He said, “Well done.” (Matthew 25:23)
Don’t let prayer be an excuse for spiritual procrastination. There is a time to stop praying and start doing.