The idea rearranged my thinking when I read over the preschool Sunday School materials last month. Our prayers need to match our actions and our actions must match our prayers. In the children’s story, the parents pray every evening with their sick daughter that she will get better. Meanwhile, they help her rest and stay calm, take her to the doctor and give her the prescribed medicine. Their prayers were answered.
Again, last week, reading about Huna and Hawaiian/Polynesian spiritualism, I ran into their concept of prayer which is always hyphenated with action: prayer-action. In their system of thought, through meditation, their thinking-self must communicate the prayer or desire to their physical bodies. Then, through the energy created in their physical selves and with the cooperation of the body, this idea can be sent to their spiritual selves – the part that is connected to the life-force of the universe. Once this is done, the physical self, the thinking self, and the spiritual self all work together in bringing this desire/prayer into reality. (I find some interesting parallels to Parent/Son/Holy Spirit in all this.)
The author of the book postulates that many Christian prayers go unanswered because they are only thoughts without actions. In her view, many Christians “turn it over to God” after only formulating the wish or desire and then wait to see what will happen.
Prayer-action also reminds me of Julia Cameron’s anecdote from The Artist’s Way: You are late for the bus. Pray that you are able to catch it, and run!
The passage from Thessalonians “pray without ceasing” also comes to mind. If our actions are the physical manifestation of our prayers, then indeed, we unwittingly pray all day. We may simply need to be more mindful of what prayers we send into the world through our actions.
But, you may say, might not the daughter have gotten well without the prayers her parents said every night? She had gone to the doctor, was resting, and taking her medicine…
Does it matter how a prayer is answered?