I recently read the quote by Miroslav Volf which said that “There is something deeply hypocritical about praying for a problem that you are unwilling to resolve.” There is some obvious truth in that statement, of course. Though it is hard to swallow the idea that I may, at times, be that hypocrite…
However, I can’t say that I believe this quote fully reflects my understanding of prayer. There are problems we don’t know how to solve, and then it remains appropriate to go to God in prayer as we continue to work toward a solution. There are problems we simply cannot resolve by our own efforts, not for lack of trying. And so it is appropriate to go to God in prayer.
And yet there are problems still, which through our actions, God might be answering a prayer. It’s amazing that we might be, through our actions, the answer to another’s prayer. We may even be able to be the answer to our very own prayers! If we are willing enough to be used, willing to be humble enough to hear God nudging us in the right direction. There is often a relationship between our prayers and our actions.
I knew a woman who I knew was a praying woman. I knew, but you could also just tell. She was a woman of prayer, because she carried it with her. You could see it on her face, you could see it in the kindness she offered, in the gentle hand she would rest upon your cheek. You could hear it in the courageous and all at once humble words she speak. You could tell, she had been with God in prayer. She had been formed and changed by her time with God. There is often a relationship between our prayers and our actions.
In the end, God wants our prayers and our actions. God wants all of us. Every last bit of us. It is right and good that we humble ourselves before God in prayer at every turn. And then carry that light of God with us, carry that strength and that kindness we receive in prayer with us. And when God points the way forward, may we have the courage to listen and to be used for God’s good purposes.