Pray, and Then Move Your Feet
When you pray, move your feet. - African proverb
One of the most often used cliches in Christian-y world is the phrase, "I'll be praying..." You can insert a number of things into the last part of that sentence: "for you," "for that situation," "about that," the list is pretty long.
I feel like those of us who call ourselves Christians don't often know what to say when we are confronted with someone's need, pain, tragedy, etc. And at the risk of saying something lame, or hurtful we tell them we will pray.
I've made it a practice to actually pray for people in those moments--even if I am praying silently to myself as they walk away.
Throughout my years of ministry, I've had people ask me whether I believe prayer actually "works." Or sometimes they've asked me to weigh in on whether I think it makes a difference to pray if God already has everything planned.
I do think prayer works at a number of levels.
Prayer connects us to people who are in pain or in need. If we pray sincerely for someone, we are essentially standing with them as we petition the Divine on their behalf.
Prayer also helps us keep company with God. As we pray, we are keeping the lines of communication open between God and us. It's in moments of prayer that I have often begun to see more clearly how God sees the situations I'm bringing to God.
But most importantly, prayer ought to give us direction and the inspiration to move and to do.
If we are praying with a spirit of openness, seeking answers, looking for meaning--we will most often find it when we respond as the African proverb puts it, by moving our feet.
The great 17th-century poet, George Herbert once wrote: The shortest answer is doing.
I both love and am chastened by Herbert's line. Because I have had more than a few moments when I have told someone that they are in my "thoughts and prayers," when what they needed were my hands and feet.
May this be true for you each and every day as you seek God in prayer, and seek to be of use for the kingdom of God in the world.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.