Prayer and Action or Action and Prayer

“Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.” Mother Teresa
Some Christian traditions–or just individual Christians–emphasize prayer and contemplation along with Christian action. Others emphasize action along with prayer and contemplation.
In no tradition–and I would hope, with no individual Christian–is either mode of expressing our faith exclusive. It’s a matter of emphasis.
I was struck by this point while reading Rod Dreher’s The Benedict Option. In the chapter about the monks of Norcia, Dreher talks about how their days are structured around prayer, then work.
I find it profound that they build their day around prayer. My prayer life is structured around my activities. More often than I like to admit, I sandwich prayer between what I’m doing. Or I piggyback prayer onto another activity–like driving–or walking the dog.
Those are good opportunities to be thankful for my life, for what I see around me–especially this time of year when spring beauty is bountiful. But combining prayer with action also makes me prone to distraction. Prayer loses its focus in the midst of distraction.
Of course, prayer becomes more serious when life gets harder–which presents this question:
“Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?” Corrie ten Boom
A steering wheel guides me all day–through all my work. A spare tire just gets me back on the road.
I want steering wheel prayer.
It’s true that we can pray anytime and anywhere–and while we are doing just about anything. That’s efficient use of time. Sometimes life requires a prayer on the run.
And such prayers can be fervent and effective.
But it’s a bit like the kind of conversations we find in marriage. “Did you remember to pay the water bill” is nothing like a lingering, in-depth discussion of heart matters.
And ministry matters and life goals and issues of eternity.
So I’m pondering how I can actually restructure my life. I want to be more prayerful.
I want a steering wheel connection to God that gives Him control.
It’s not a matter of finding time to sit in silence and stillness. It’s a matter of making time for quiet prayer. That is my task.
Silence and stillness built into life will build a rich and profound life of prayer, a rich and profound life.
“Be still and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, exalted on the earth.” Psalm 46:11

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0 Replies to “Prayer and Action or Action and Prayer”

  1. Consider this: if we pray and do no action, perhaps God sees this as we wanting Him to do everything for us. We are being selfish and slothful.
    But, if we only act and do not pray, perhaps God views that as humans being arrogant and thinking that they can do anything without God’s blessing.
    We need to pray and do appropriate actions.

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