Is Prayer Enough?

Historian Jill Lepore reminds her readers in “The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party’s Revolution and the Battle over American History,” of the wry humor and parody employed by Benjamin Franklin to make his points. She references this proverb from Franklin’s “Poor Richard’s Almanac”: “Serving God is Doing good to Man, but Praying is thought an easier Service, and therefore more generally chosen.” His lampoon aimed at religious hypocrisy unfortunately struck me right between the eyes.

Let me be clear: I believe prayer is important – if for no other reason that Christ emphasized it so much. I have experienced the power of prayer, especially as it is enlarged through a community of faith praying together. I value the weekly email of prayer considerations as well as the specific joys and concerns. I like that it takes me to a place beyond self. I like seeking God’s wisdom and desire for me and for Christ’s church at Blue Valley through prayer and meditation. It is unquestionably vital sustenance for my faith journey. And yet, I frequently wonder if I am not taking the easy way out. Am I using prayer as an excuse for not doing? James epistle offers encouragement, but also plants plenty of barbs of guilt and question within me. His particularly nagging question is “What good is it my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? James answer is troublesome, “…faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead? I find it easy to point a finger at Pharisees and Christians from the first century through today as hypocrites. Then I realize the rest of my fingers as well as those of Ben and James are pointing at me. Where should prayer/faith intersect with doing/serving? Would it be like the plus sign with equal parts or like the cross, with more of one below the crossbeam?

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