Are thoughts and prayers enough?


In recent news President Barack Obama was quoted as having said “our thoughts and prayers are not enough”. This statement was made as a part of his response to another mass shooting. It causes me some concern that our president was pushing for more man-made laws to counter an ongoing problem of violence. The reason it troubles me is two-fold; First it indicates that made up laws have the ability to change every persons behavior. Second it indicates the body of Christ has less influence in our nation than does political agendas.

I will not waste time reasoning why laws cannot change every persons behavior. I will write about how lethargy in the church body is causing some harm. The statement ‘our thoughts and prayers are not enough’ is accurate. This is also not a new problem among Christians. Look at James 2:14-19; What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? 15 Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, 16 and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? 17 So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.18 Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.” 19 You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror.

Prayer and faith go hand in hand. To pray with no faith is just talking to yourself. Prayer is also the least we can do to help others. Unfortunately it is also not put into daily practice by many church attending Christians. We live in a time when many have become very lethargic about their faith. Too many people are content with going to church services on a somewhat regular basis and not take on any activity to meet the needs of others. Prayer leads to motivation and that leads to activity and in turn change happens.

Let me share a story of how I realized the value of committed prayer. For many years I lived in the second largest city in Illinois which is Aurora. This is a very diverse city that has been plagued with gangs and violence. In the years living in Aurora I witnessed a wide range of violence, drug dealing, and various other unlawful activities. One year a group of clergy got together and began a prayer campaign for the city. Motivated by emotion many people, including myself, got involved with various prayer walks and dedicated prayer services to combat the “evil” activity in the city of Aurora. It was only a matter of weeks before a most of the people who began the prayer coverage quit showing up for the designated walks and prayer vigils. I did not stay involved a full year. There were a few that remained faithful to pray for the city and its leaders. There are a few dedicated prayer warriors still praying for Aurora. Let me show you an excerpt from a news story about the city of Aurora, Illinois.

January 01, 2013 By Dan Hinkel, Chicago Tribune reporter
While Chicagoans saw the city’s homicides rise past 500 last year, residents of the state’s second largest city, Aurora, quietly observed a milestone of their own — a year without a slaying. The slaying-free year was Aurora’s first in recent times, police Sgt. Matt Thomas said. Aurora, a city of about 200,000 on the Fox River west of Chicago, notched 25 homicides in 2002, but totals have dropped recently, according to FBI statistics. There were five in 2009, four in 2010 and two in 2011, according to the FBI.
If you care to do the research you would find that prayer was listed as a contributing factor for the overall drop in violent crimes. Other factors were changes in policies on handling violent offenders and cooperation between police and citizen groups. To be clear some of the citizen groups were people praying with and for the police and city leaders. More laws are not enough to curb illegal activity, if it was we wouldn’t have any crime. It is a sad truth that the murder rate did not remain zero since 2012 but that has not stopped prayer and community outreach.
The United States of America is in turbulent times. Our leaders are trying in their own human abilities to find solutions. To contemplate the problem and even pray about it is not enough. Through actions is where real change happens. When those actions are motivated by prayer and contemplation of God’s word the leaders of this nation will be influenced by Christian values again. Lasting change will not occur through emotional motivation. It may take years of dedicated prayer and hard work to change the community you live in.
Think about the words James 2:17….faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. I choose to not be a lethargic, unmotivated Christian just watching the world fall apart. I choose to seek God first and respond to His direction. How about you?
Rev. Burt Schwab

About burtschwab

I currently live in Iowa, USA. I serve as an assisting pastor of a unique small church. My goals are to simply live life as a journey and embrace each day. I am married to a wife with similar passions and that makes me a blessed man.
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