Ricardo Bacchus, Editorial Assistant, CQ Bible Study Guide

Prayer Is Not the Only Answer

The Ebola outbreak, unrest in Syria, racism on the rise. When you turn on CNN, you’re asking for depressed evenings and sleepless nights. This world is crashing down right in front of our eyes. And sadly—yes sadly—our general response to most everything that goes awry is: “I’m praying for you.”

Prayer is indeed the most powerful weapon to combat the demons in our lives. But have we replaced this verb with a noun? If you tell someone you’re praying for them, but aren’t actively showing them your love and support, is “praying for them” a wall you’ve put up, giving you the exit door to not have to go the extra mile?

How can you tell a friend who has just lost a loved one to cancer that you are praying for him or her, if you haven’t given this friend a break from the kitchen or housework? Lip-service is a selfish “all talk, no walk” corporation. But if you replace the word “lip” with the word “love,” you have an active verb, an industry of selfless giving.

Jesus spent entire nights praying to God for encouragement, strength, and those He came in contact with. However, if He had kept to Himself come dawn, those precious hours with God would’ve been meaningless. He wouldn’t have preached, healed, and loved people if He didn’t act out His devotional time. If He told His disciples He was praying for them, but never stooped down to wash their feet, He wouldn’t have been living out His prayer life. As James puts it: “Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do” (James 1:23–25, NIV). Ultimately, by dying on the cross, Jesus acted out His supplications.

If we are striving to live a life of “doing” instead of solely “being” a Christian, here are some practical ideas on how to do so.

  1. Donate to those affected by the Ebola outbreak. The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) has helped more than 134,000 people to receive food, education, and psychosocial support. To find out more, please visit this page.
  2. Send a text, e-mail, or a Facebook message to someone who’s in need of a pick-me-up. Although snail mail is antiquated, it can be the most meaningful way to express your love and support. 
  3. Listen. We were born with one mouth and two ears for a reason. Let the other person vent their problems to you. Sometimes just being present is all that’s needed.
  4. The definition of a missionary is “a person sent on a religious mission, especially one sent to promote Christianity in a foreign country.”* If it is your desire to pursue this experience, by all means, do it! But also understand that the Bible is very clear on how we should live day-to-day: “Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31, NIV). Meaning, you can use your leadership abilities to coach a local basketball team or your photography skills to teach a class.
  5. Pray! Yes, of course this is still the most important activity we can take part in. However, maybe instead of telling a friend you’ll pray forthem, you can pray with them. This could make all the difference in the world.

Let’s face it. The world isn’t getting any better. Let’s also face it. Our hollow words and insincere promises to pray for someone may be comforting to them at the time, and these prayers may indeed get answered, but a missing piece would still remain. Act upon your prayers to complete the puzzle.
* Oxford Dictionaries, “missionary,”
http://www.oxforddictionaries.com (accessed January 29, 2015).