Last month, I wrote about praying audaciously, looking at Jesus’ prayers from John 17. It ended with a challenge to prayer big, tough, audacious prayers throughout the month of January. If you want a refresher of that article, you can click here to read it again. This month, I want to follow up on that article. We’ve talked a lot this past month about prayer, and have even partnered together to pray over all aspects of Central Christian Church for 24-Hours straight. Prayer is an important part of our relationship with Christ, but we can’t treat it like prayer is the only thing that we should be doing. One of the things that I have noticed in my own life, and in the lives of those that I am close to, we are either really good at praying, but not following that up with action, or we don’t take time to pray, but we’re really good at jumping to action right away. Neither of those are the best that we should be doing.
Take for example the prayers of Jesus in John 17(click here for a refresher). Jesus prayed and prayed hard at that time. He was hours away from going to the cross. Actually, all four gospels record some version of His prayer that night(Matthew 26, Mark 14, and Luke 22). He not only took time to pray for His disciples and for all of us that would eventually come to know and follow Him, He was praying that God’s will be done. He didn’t want to go to the cross. In fact, Luke’s account of His time in the garden praying says that Jesus was so stressed over what He knew was coming, He was literally sweating blood. It would have been easy for Jesus to pray, and just think that was enough. To walk away because He did what He thought was enough, and prayed about something that was bothering Him. We do that a lot. But He didn’t do that.
He prayed and then He went out and did what He had to do. He didn’t just leave it at prayer. He put the physical effort in and He went to the cross. And we should all be so glad that He did. That was God’s will, and Jesus put in the work to complete the task that God had given Him. If He had just left it at prayer, and then walked away because He didn’t think He needed to do anything else, the sacrifice for our sins would not have been completed.
Other scriptures speak to this, but the first one that comes to mind when I was thinking through this was James 2:14-26. James is talking about faith vs. deeds, but I think it can easily be seen as prayer vs. work as well. So in other words, what is prayer without putting some work in at the same time. Don’t get me wrong, God wants us to pray, and He is more than capable of handling the situations that we pray about. Sometimes, however, by allowing us to work at the things we are praying for, He uses that to help us grow in those areas and in our faith.
In the article last month, I mentioned an author and preacher by the name of Mark Batterson, and his book The Circle Maker, all about praying big prayers. One of my favorite Batterson quotes, and I can’t remember which of his books it’s int (probably in multiple), is this; “Pray like it depends on God, but work at it like it depends on you.” That’s my challenge to you this month, and it will be a main focus of our teaching times over the next few weeks as well. Put the time in praying, but don’t be afraid to put the work in either. God doesn’t want us to just sit idly by after we’ve prayed. He wants us to do the work as well.
So, think about that big prayer or prayers that you’ve been praying over the last month (if you haven’t been praying those big prayers yet, it’s not too late). Keep praying those prayers. Pray bolder prayers. Then ask yourself, “What can I do to help bring about the results of the prayers that I have been praying?” And then do it. Figure out what needs to happen on your end, keep praying, and then do the work! Let’s all get out there and put in the work to reach this community for Christ.