Recently, some on social media have taken issue with those who share “thoughts and prayers” in the wake of national disaster or tragedy. They argue that thoughts and prayers don’t do anything, because they aren’t active, they aren’t helpful, and don’t help anyone put their lives back together. I will admit, “thoughts and prayers” do feel like extremely passive responses to tragedy. To someone in a car accident, a passersby saying, “I will be thinking about you” as they drive away seems apathetic and cold. To have another say “I will be praying for you” seems to make a mockery of Christian faith. James once remarked,
If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?
I think James would agree with the naysayers above. He goes on to say:
So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
Though we are saved by grace through faith, and not by works, there ought to be some works to reveal that that saving faith is real. There ought to be evidence of transformation. You ought to be able to show, “Yes, my life has changed, and here’ what’s different.”
So when we go about helping others, it ought not to be only in “thoughts and prayers” but also in listening, in caring, in showing that care by helping them in tangible, physical ways. A pat on the back, and helping hand, there are many ways, even little ways to show you care.
But let me return to “thoughts and prayers” for a moment. There are some of us where prayer for the ailing and needy is the most powerful thing we can do. The naysayers believe they are referring the anemic powerless prayers of nomial Christian when they ridicule us. They give no credit to prayer because they’ve never seen the powerful and effective prayer of righteous men. Prove them wrong. Show them what prayer is and how powerful a tool it is to combatting evil, both moral and natural. Show them the effect powerful prayer has on your life. Show them that prayer isn’t weak, but strong. Prayer isn’t for the anemic, but for the humble. Inviting God into a situation is the most powerful thing you can do. Don’t neglect the helping of physical needs, but neither neglect the power you have on your knees.
Let your light shine. Don’t hide it under a bushel. But let it shine so that the whole world knows whom you serve.
Dear Lord, I am sorry we have made such a mess of things down here. There are so many things we do the wrong way, all because we thought we could do it better. But we are wrong. Teach us again the good and right way. Lead again to the closet of prayer so that we may emerge transformed. Thank You Jesus for showing us the way. In Your Name we pray, Amen.