I have been reading a book titled Never Pray Again that explores prayer leading into action. I have always been an advocate of prayer that gets me moving in the right direction. I want prayers that get me up out of my chair, out of my house, out into my neighborhood and community to do my small part in fighting injustice, cleaning up creation, or sitting with someone in need of a friend. Like the authors I believe that when we say those magic words “I will pray for you” all to often we think that is all we have to do, and that isn’t quite right. God does answer prayers, but God cannot do it alone. God needs our arms and legs, and yes even our imagination, to get the job done. We are to not just offer prayers of intercession but also intercede on behalf of those who cannot act by themselves. We are not to just offer prayers of healing but also enable and encourage those who are wounded so that they may become whole members of the community. We are not to just to offer prayers of support but also get out on the street and offer ourselves in support of those in need. We are to shower the love God has gifted us with onto everyone we meet, whether they are friend or enemy.
Just imagine what the world would look like if this became the radical new trend. I can hardly contain myself because it is such an exciting thought. But reality will and does set in to temper my enthusiasm. Because I know, and you know, that isn’t happening anytime soon, but we have to start somewhere. Here are 2 possible things to do that are suggested by the authors:
- The next time you someone begging go and grab a couple of meals and sit down with that person and listen to them talk about their problems. When you both have finished your meal thank them and the next time you see them acknowledge them instead of passing them by. If you can’t sit down with them then, at the very least, give them the meal and ask for their name so you might respond to them as a fellow traveler.
- Invite and outsider in. Find a new person, in your apartment building, neighborhood, workplace or school and invite them to lunch or tea and coffee. Even if they may not “fit-in” with your normal social group listen to them and get to know them as a person, someone with their own dreams and aspirations. You might invite them to something you do regularly with others, not as a token, but as a real invitation.
Both of these activities are prayer in action, reaching out to those who we might never have met, sharing ourselves, offering respect, leading to a new wholeness in all. This is what Jesus did. If we are to call ourselves followers of Jesus aren’t we obligated to do what he taught us?
Ruth Jewell, ©June 3, 2014
 Clark, A; D. Hagler; N. Larson, Never Pray Again, Chalice Press, 2014