#30in30 Day 22: Sometimes Prayer Isn’t The Solution

Social media and the news is overwhelmed with disappointment, frustration, anger, and sadness over the Not Guilty verdict in the Zimmerman trial. But this isn’t another post about the miscarriage of justice.

This isn’t another post about how the state of FL is a cesspool of ignorance.

This is a post about your relationship with your God. This is about the belief system upon which we base our actions.

My pastor once said when things don’t make sense, you have to deal within your 6th sense. National tragedies have always had a religious aspect. Hell, the entire Palestine/Israeli conflict has lasted for thousands of years and will continue on for another thousand. Religion is sometimes a security blanket or a defense mechanism to explain actions that logically make no sense to us. But it’s unnecessarily used as an excuse to pacify the inaction we get comfortable with in our daily lives.

“God, help me pay this bill.”

“Lord, I really need this job opportunity to come through.”

“I don’t know what to do, God please have your way in my life.”

Those are prayers that roll off the tongues of Christians worldwide all the time. The 3rd is actually a prayer I sent up just last night. But how can God answers our prayers if we don’t exercise free will to take steps? The bible has many verses that instruct you to never turn away from God. God is the alpha and omega. God doesn’t forsake his followers. 1 of my favorite verses in fact is Proverbs 3:5-6

As a Christian, 1 of the tenets you have to practice is total and unyielding faith in the greatness of God. However, in the very same Bible, James 2:26 explicitly states that faith without works is dead. I’ve always interpreted that to mean that if your actions don’t align with the desires and wants from your heart, then your prayers are essentially pointless.

Often in my life, I’ve wondered why do bad things keep happening to me. It’s human to get to a point of emotional exhaustion and want to give up. No matter how long of a race you’ve run, we all reach that point of “why am I still chasing?” It’s discouraging to know in your logical mind that you’ve done everything you could possibly do to reach a goal or fulfill a dream and it’s just not going to happen. For me, I’ve always concluded that whatever that thing I was desperately chasing wasn’t meant for me. But in my 30s, I know now that’s a cop-out; as is thinking prayer will solve every calamity, hardship, or delay you encounter.

The works that you do as you pray for a breakthrough will determine the answer to that prayer. So if you’re praying for a better job, yet you haven’t updated your resume, you haven’t brushed up on your interview skills, you haven’t applied to every single position that aligns with your qualifications, you can’t expect that better job to magically appear. If you want to meet a great guy/woman, you can’t keep frequenting places where the unsavory hang out. You can’t pray for justice if you do nothing to improve the system.

To keep this in vaguer terms of being a black man in America, we can’t be complacent and simply pray for our sons, fathers, brothers, and husbands. We can’t just pray that God will protect and save us. We can’t just keep praying for the families of the black men that system doesn’t protect. We have to put in the work to align with our desires for change. We have to make our good works – whether it be attending a peaceful protest, becoming a mentor to a young child of color, or being more active in local civics – back up the prayers that we send up to God.

For every callous heart that’s armed with a piece of cold steel, there has to be a heart that’s armed with good intent and consistent faithful service.

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