Prayer and Action

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cup of water In Christ Jesus, religious ritual means nothing, but faith working through love. Galatians 5:6

Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will marvel. John 5:19-20

My prayer life is not what it should be. I bet most of us can say that. I struggle to pray, even when the needs are desperate. I look at prayer warriors with envious eyes. Koreans who spend hours each morning on their prayer mountain, monastics who seek the Lord at all times, mystics who are with the Lord, even when they sleep—how I wish I could be like them! Even a single hour with the Lord seems like pulling teeth.

But I have learned something from an Orthodox proverb: “Serving the poor is prayer.” When we know the Lord’s will and do it, we are finishing our prayers. The act of loving is the true “amen” of our prayers, the action of God through us. At the end of each of our prayers, we must be asking ourselves, “Lord, am I to be the answer to my own prayer?”

In the caring for and raising of her child, a mother is praying. In the patient service of the sick, a nurse is praying. In feeding and clothing the poor, a servant is praying. In forgiving our enemies, in encouraging our brothers, in showing mercy to the outcast—in all of this we pray and seek the Lord. These acts do not replace prayer, but rather they are a part of prayer, the work of God within us that is the result of our desire, often unspoken.

Although I fail to pray as often as I should, I will take spare moments of my day, pray the Lord’s prayer, and know that I am fulfilling “Your kingdom come” with what I do. I also will sing the deceased Keith Green’s prayer, “Make my life a prayer to you,” and know that my acts of love are answers to these prayers.

Father, free me from guilt for not accomplishing the rituals that you did not ask me to do. Allow me to be content in doing what you called me to do. May I be the Mary who sat at your feet and then stood up to accomplish your work. Amen

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