- PRAYER OR ACTION? HOW ABOUT BOTH?
In the struggle for righteousness, intercessory prayer and Spirit-led action are two sides of the same coin—action initiated and covered by prayer; prayer backed and followed by action.
What if a farmer knelt and prayed for a crop, but never planted; or a general prayed for victory, but never fought; or a runner prayed to win, but never ran? There are situations where we’re only called to pray, but somebody (not everybody) has to be on the front lines. There are times when we may find it’s our turn.
Thank God for the brave souls who have thrown themselves into the arena to wrestle against the forces of moral decay. But activism without prayer cover is like infantry without air cover. It’s like David going to fight Goliath, but without the power of God to make his arm strong and his aim sure.
In short, activism without prayer is a battle plan for a losing battle. This is because our real foes are not flesh and blood (human influence and ingenuity) but ancient and crafty beings who have waged their war against mankind since the inception of the race, and who are equipped with a formidable array of weapons, snares and deceptions (see Ephesians 6:12).
So before we enter the fray brandishing placards, shouting slogans and bristling with righteous indignation, we need to learn to fight the spiritual battle in prayer. There we receive strategy, armor and air cover for our daily ground skirmishes, and the weapons of wisdom, grace and love to defeat our spiritual foes. Only as our actions are covered by persistent prayer will they accomplish the purposes of God.
We see an Old Testament picture of this in Exodus: When the Israelites, still wandering in the desert, were attacked by the Amalekites, Joshua led the counterattack while Moses stood on the top of the hill holding the rod of God in his hand.
“And so it was, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands became heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. And Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. So Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword” (Exodus 17:11-18 NIV).
This is a picture to us of two layers of intercession: Aaron and Hur interceding for Moses by holding up his hands, and Moses interceding for Joshua and his men by holding up his rod, the embodiment of the authority of God.
Without this “air cover” the entire Jewish race, all of whom were present there in the desert, might have ceased to exist. God will move just as surely for us, too, if we work together in determined prayer and righteous action.
The Lausanne Covenant calls us to practical ministry with the words: “We affirm that evangelism and socio-political involvement are both parts of our Christian duty. For both are necessary expressions of our doctrines of God and man, our love for our neighbor and our obedience to Jesus Christ. The message of salvation implies also a message of judgment upon every form of alienation, oppression and discrimination, and we should not be afraid to denounce evil and injustice wherever they exist.”
We must get involved in the struggle for righteousness and justice in our nation. To do the job, we must be aware of what’s happening in our churches, schools, courts and governments.
Intercession is not a cop-out that allows us to remain safely at home, praying, if God is calling us to carry the struggle to the streets, the courts or the political arena.
When we don’t do our part in the process of running our society, we get just what we deserve.
When we don’t set the standards and determine the game plan, we find ourselves operating under someone else’s agenda. Then we have to dig out entrenched and determined opponents.
We, the people, are still the deciding voice in our country, but if we’re not informed, we won’t know who the good guys are and which rascals to throw out