There has been a backlash in recent times against those that offer prayers during a tragedy. To some, the phrase has come to be an empty gesture, which acknowledges an issue but refuses to do anything about it. I’m sure that some of this is because of a growing atheistic mindset in our culture, but I also think some of it comes from the mistaken idea that prayer and action don’t go hand in hand.
There is no greater example of this one who meshed prayer and action than that of Nehemiah. When he heard of the tragedy that had befallen his hometown, he prayed and looked for an opportunity to use his position to help. When he turned the negative into a positive when we had confronted by the king of his sadness, before he spoke of his request to the king, he prayed (Nehemiah 2:2-5). When threatened by the naysayers of his work, he “prayed to our God and… set up a guard” (Nehemiah 4:9). He did not act without praying and did not pray without acting.
What made Nehemiah a leader that accomplished so much was this fusion of prayer and action. He didn’t see prayer as a give up gesture but rather one that put him in contact with the one that could solve any problem.
Just like in Nehemiah day we are surrounded by the critics who throw doubts and fear, that undermine the faithful, and cast suspicion on God and his people. Like Nehemiah, we must also not be afraid to put our trust in God and our hand to the work. Our prayers need to be the source of power for our efforts, not our excuse to do nothing.