For Christians, prayer is an important part of their religious life. When Christians say they’ll pray, atheist usually get annoyed and react very negatively.
One Atheist said to me, “I hate Christians because they believe all they have to do is pray, so all they do is pray and then they sit back and do nothing about the situation…”
I wanted to investigate these two claims:
- “Christians believe all they have to do is pray”
- “All Christians do is pray and then they sit back and do nothing about the situation…”
CLAIM 1: “Christians believe all they have to do is pray” — what does the Bible actually teach on this subject?
- Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.
- James 1:22
(In short, the Bible instructs believers: don’t just read the Bible… Don’t just pray… do something! What good is it to read the Bible and pray and then sit around and do nothing? this person is a hypocrite)
- Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.
- James 1:27
(The Bible instructs believers very clearly into doing something (action is imperative) — care for the orphan, care for the widow and those in distress.)
- What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
- James 2:14-17
(In other words, faith without actions is not pleasing to God nor is it beneficial for anyone.)
Point: The Bible clearly instructs believers to do something (not just pray or read the Bible). Matthew 16:24 says,”Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”
For the Christian following Jesus and picking up their cross means:
- Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means giving your possessions away?
- Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means going to a far off country and helping people you’ve never met?
- Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means the loss of your reputation?
- Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means losing your job?
- Are you willing to follow Jesus if it means losing your life?
CLAIM 2. “All Christians do is pray and then they sit back and do nothing about the situation…” — Let’s look at actually data:
While popularly held beliefs—and characterizations by US government officials—purport that many churches/temples/synagogues/mosques/etc. and faith-based organizations give money internationally. However, the actual data via studies and research found that the overwhelming majority of religious-based (worldwide) international aid is Christian. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faith-based_foreign_aid
The top 4 Christian humanitarian organizations: fighting poverty, slavery, lack of education, abuse, discrimination, war, and world hunger http://www.sharefaith.com/blog/2013/06/top-4-christian-humanitarian-organizations-fighting-poverty-slavery-world-hunger/
1. Compassion international
2. Food for the hungry
3. World vision
4. Samaritans purse
Here is a very small list of Christian organizations who put their prayers into action: CAREuse.org, Caritas.org, Catholic Relief Services, Doctors without borders, Food for the hungry international, Hunger plus, Internal committee of the red cross ICRC, The Red Cross, International organization for Migration, International Rescue Committee, Lutheran world federation, Mennonite Central Committee, Mercy Corps, Overseas development institute, Refugees international, Save the Children, UNICEF, World vision international…
In addition to these resources, ReliefWeb (http://www.reliefweb.int/) provides a comprehensive Directory of Humanitarian Organisations.
Conclusion: For Christians, prayer is an important part of our religious life —
- Prayer is not asking a magical genie for treasures or favors
- Prayer is not trying to change God’s will
When Christians pray we usually go to a quiet place where we can meditate and come to God honestly and openly in order to discover more about God and His character. Prayer is nothing more than communication that builds a relationship through dialogue. Genuine prayer has all of the qualities and characteristics of a deeply meaningful conversation between two people. God said to the prophet Isaiah, “Come now, and let us reason together” Isaiah 1:18. This image of God and man sitting down together for a good talk is our best image of prayer.