By that I mean, God doesn't always fix you in some magical single moment. In the ultimate sense God always helps you. The Bible says so. I've experienced it. You've experienced it. But sometimes your heart has a hard time believing it. Sometimes it seems as though God is doing everything else except help you.
When you pray and struggle and nothing seems to get better your faith is challenged.
- You are sick and in pain, and keep praying for God to heal you.
- You have more bills than money and keep asking God to send you resources.
- Your mind wrestles with depression or anxiety, and you keep asking God to take it away.
- You struggle with an addiction to pornography or alcohol and keep asking God for deliverance.
- Your marriage is in trouble, and you keep praying for God to fix it.
It's always right to pray. Always. But sometimes that's not all you need to do. Frequently you need to put legs on your prayers.
Frederick Douglas said, "I prayed for 20 years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs." Perhaps it's time to start walking!
Repeated scientific research on spirituality and health demonstrates that when facing tough stuff, those who see themselves working together with God come through their challenges with better well-being and spiritual resilience. Those who either try to do it all themselves or sit back waiting for God to do it all do consistently less well. It's Philippians 2:12-13: God works, and we work. It's you and God working together.
Here are three ways to pray with your legs.
1. Take Action.
If God were to miraculously heal your back pain, diabetes or heart disease, how long would you stay healed? If you continue to smoke, don't lose weight, or consume mostly junk food you may well be back in the same condition three months from now.
If God suddenly gave you a million dollars, how long would that last? Would a sudden lavish lifestyle and even larger debts put you back in the same financial straits by this time next year?
You cannot do everything, but you can do something. You are not all-powerful, but you do have choices and abilities. There is always something you can do. Do that. To the degree you can, do with diligence and integrity what you would do if your prayers were answered.
- If you're sick, adopt the absolute healthiest lifestyle you can.
- If you lack money, live frugally, despise debt, develop your skills and work very hard.
- If your mind is troubled, learn to take control of your thoughts and give your mind healthy emotional/spiritual nourishment.
- If you struggle with an addiction to pornography or alcohol, put strong internet controls on every device or TV, or get an AA sponsor.
- If your marriage is in trouble, become the best spouse you can by developing your skills in communication, intimacy and loving well.
You do not put faith in your actions. Your actions will not in themselves fix you. But by taking action you put yourself in the flow of God's help. He has more raw material to work with. Your long-term success necessitates action on your part. Start now!
Sometimes God's answer is, "Get up off your face! There's something you need to deal with!" (See Josh. 7:10).
2. Accept Help.
The story is told of the man whose house was being swallowed by a flood. Trapped on his roof, he prayed for God to save him. First an ATV, then a boat and finally a helicopter came by and offered him rescue. Each time he replied, "No, God's going to save me."
When the man drowned and went to heaven, he asked God why he had not been saved. God replied, "I sent you an ATV, a boat and a helicopter, but you didn't want any help."
Too often we are blind to the answers to our prayers. God may be answering by sending people, ideas or resources that may not only give us food, but allow us to learn to fish—and eat for a lifetime.
Seek out and cooperate with any resources or professional help you can. Listen to your doctors and take their advice. Learn to take charge of your money in Financial Peace University, and seek out work that can be meaningful. Get professional help for your mental struggles or connect with Celebrate Recovery. Join with others who are determined to overcome pornography or get into a Christian treatment center for addiction. Get with a skilled marriage counselor or pastor. Read everything you can find on your struggle.
Don't simply accept everything you read or hear. Bring it before the Lord. Get His input on the help you are finding. But learn to accept the help He brings through others.
3. Change your Prayers.
Your default may be to keep crying out, "God, help me!" Never stop doing that. Keep crying out.
But also learn the other parts of prayer. Let your mind become quiet enough to actually hear what God may be saying. His voice usually comes through stillness. (1 Kin. 19:12)
Cry, beg, scream, yell—do it all. Direct your heart-cry to God. Pour it all out before Him. And then be still. Listen.
And beyond asking Him to fix you (never stop doing that), broaden your request. Ask Him to show you His perspective on your situation. He never enjoys His children's pain, but He can always use your circumstances to do transformative things in your life. Ask Him what actions He wants you to take yourself. Ask Him what resources, people or professionals He wants you to connect with. Ask Him to change your heart to see things as He sees them.
As you put legs on your prayers in these ways your relationship with God will grow deeper. He's always there.
Your Turn: Have you been trying to fix something all by yourself, or sitting back and waiting for God to fix it? How can you better cooperate with God in moving forward? Leave a comment below.
Reprinted with permission from Dr. Carol Ministries. Dr. Carol Peters-Tanksley is an author, speaker, minister and OB-GYN.
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