My mother always told me, “God helps those who help themselves.” It’s her way of saying that yes, we pray, but we also need to do our part: the work. God is capable of doing great things — amazing things — but He doesn’t baby us. He wants us to grow, and our free will demands that we participate in God’s plan.
So when we pray, we must also do so with faith and hope that God is in the process of answering our prayers. Bold prayers beget bold answers. Ever see the meme of a person holding an umbrella on a sunny day hoping for rain. That’s the faith we need when we pray, but there’s more to being faithful in prayer than just preparing for the answer.
There’s a story of a man who walked by a saint statue every day. He would pause and pray to the saint, “Please, let me win the lottery today.” One day, as he began to pray, the saintly statue replied, “but you don’t even play the lottery!”
Thoughts and prayers
Here’s the thing. We often “send our thoughts and prayers” when we hear of someone’s struggle, but what exactly does that do? Yes, prayer is terrific, but we are called be Christians by our love, something that should be an action, not just a thought or word.
“If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,’ but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”James 2:15-17
How many other ways can this be applied! We wish people well all the time. We want change in our society. Maybe we even whine about the lack of support in our own parishes. But what are we doing about it? Certainly we can’t help everyone all the time, but we can help some people some of the time.
“Not all of us can do great things, but we can do small things with great love.”Saint Mother Teresa
Mission of Love
So, how can we do this and do our prayers mean nothing without works? First, our prayers are valuable, and mean so much, so do not cease praying (1 Thes 5:17)! But we can’t leave it at that. We’re on a mission of love. God sees our efforts and knows our hearts, and He also knows our dismissiveness. Let’s not say we’ll pray for someone and not actually pray for that person.
What else does this mission of love need but action! If we want change, we need to perpetuate that change. It could be through a conversation, sharing information, cooking a meal, or donating goods. Maybe it’s a ride or helping someone with bills. Maybe you want to protest outside an abortion facility. Our works have a variety of boldness but they all involve some amount of work.
Your Part of Salvation
Salvation isn’t earned – let’s be clear on that (Eph 2:8). Yet we are required to walk the walk. If we are to follow Christ, we are to take up our own Cross, love and help our neighbors, and do the work. We can’t work our own way to Heaven, but we can be loyal to Christ and be His Hands and Feet. We’re here to be Christ to others.
The same goes for our own needs. If we pray for money, we’d best be looking for a job or working and not sitting on the couch doing nothing. If we pray for food, we might try to buy some and cook for ourselves as much as we’re able. God will fill in the rest.
We all have a part in this world and Christ carries the rest. If we do our part, fill in the needs we can, then God will care for His children, hear the prayers of His faithful, and do His part. Let’s continue this mission of love and do our part.
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