THERE’S A STORY TOLD OF an old wise man of God who was continually criticized for his motto, “pray and work.” A young pupil, struggling with the mounting problems of life, asked the wise man, “If God is so powerful, why then do you teach us also to work?” The wise man of God invited this youth to go fishing. As they entered the boat, the youth noticed that the old man only used one oar and said, “If you don’t use both, we’ll just go around in circles and you won’t get anywhere.” “That’s right, my son,” the elder man replied. “One oar is called prayer and the other is called work. Unless you use both at the same time, you just go in circles and you don’t get anywhere.”
Over the years I’ve learned that prayer alone, or work alone, is just like trying to row a boat using only one oar. All you ever seem to do is just go around in circles.
There is no doubt that prayer ought to be a part of every Christians day. Jesus taught this on several occasion, exemplifying it in His own life [Mat 14:23; 26:36,39; Mark 1:35; Luke 9:18,29].
And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;
Unfortunately, that is where many of us stop. We pray and pray and pray, wondering why nothing ever changes. What we forget is that God has also required us to act. Let us consider two Godly men Abraham, and Moses, men who are noted for how God spoke to them as a friend [Gen 18:17; Ex 33:11].
In reading Hebrews 11, we see that these two men had a great faith. Was their faith only seen in their prayer life? Are these men remembered for their inactive faith only? Do you recall reading about these men sitting in their easy chair, lifting up praise and prayers to God and softly drifting off to sleep comforted with the thought that God would take care of their troubles? No, never. What we DO READ is that these men of faith prayed and worked.
By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. Heb 11:8
By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Heb 11:7
When Abraham heard God, he acted upon those commands. In the case of offering up Isaac, it is said that he “rose early” that morning to fulfill the commands of God [Gen 22:3].
Moses also acted upon the commands of God.
By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward. Heb 11:24-26
Did either of these men think that they were accomplishing anything out of their own power? No, they had placed their trust in God, but this trust was manifested by a remarkable demonstration of action.
When we pray according to God’s will, we’re praying having sought to know His will through the study of His word [2Tim 2:15]. Then after we pray, we get up and apply that knowledge to our lives. We act, not because we think highly about ourselves, rather, because we are trusting God to bless our godly activities.
But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. James 1:22
“For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.” (KJV) [Jam 1:23-25]