A Time to Pray and a Time to Act
Posted on April 16, 2019 by Erin Culleny in Freedom Fighters
In Joshua 7 there is a very interesting story. I can remember only one time ever hearing a message on the real intent of the story. Joshua and his army just had the miraculous victory over Jericho. Their next battle was to be at the small town of Ai. The spies reported that it would be easy and therefore not necessary to send a large force. They decided to go with only about 3000 warriors and were defeated. When Joshua received the news, he was concerned that word would spread of their weakness. So he tore his clothes, sprinkled his head with dust and knelt face down before the Lord for a lengthy time. Other leaders did the same.
My recollection is that the point was made that they went in assuming their own might and not depending on the Lord. There’s no record that they even prayed about it. Neither was there any comment about the Lord telling them to stop praying.
But we read in Joshua 7:10-13, “But the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Get up off your face! Israel has sinned and disobeyed my commandment and has taken loot when I said it was not to be taken; and they have not only taken it, they have lied about it and have hidden it among their belongings. That is why the people of Israel are being defeated. That is why your men are running from their enemies—for they are cursed. I will not stay with you any longer unless you completely rid yourselves of this sin. Get up! Tell the people, ‘Each of you must undergo purification rites in preparation for tomorrow, for the Lord your God of Israel says that someone has stolen from him, and you cannot defeat your enemies until you deal with this sin’” (TLB).
In other words, there is a time to pray and there is a time to act. Might I say it like this: faith (your dependence upon God) without works (doing what you can and must do) is dead?
For example, suppose you are aware of someone who is sexually abusing children and you have been praying about it. Stop praying and turn him in!!! Or you may be aware of a situation where you are almost certain because of known facts that you can identify a murderer (I knew of such a person with that kind of information many years ago.) Stop praying and report it to the police. Or a final scenario: there is someone in your church, a friend, and you are almost positive he is stealing money from the church and is in a position to do so. You’ve prayed about it but the facts continue to confirm more money is missing. Stop praying and inform the pastor or church administrator.
If this were a message being delivered verbally, I would amplify the thought of “stop praying”, but I can’t do that in this brief devotional. Surely, I am not suggesting that we stop praying period or even that we stop praying about the situation. What I am suggesting is that there is a time to act on our prayers. We need to have the courage to do what we need to do to resolve the situation and not hide behind the fact that we are praying about it! If there is sin, deal with the sin.
Consider this: a high-profile pastor has been living in a luxury “mansion” and has a partnership in a jet plane while pleading with his people to sacrifice in order to meet the growing financial needs of the church. He refused to sell his motorcycle while calling on others to sell some of their possessions. He was confronted numerous times, but the “official board” was stacked with friends who did not hold him accountable. So others blew the whistle and now he (the pastor), the church leaders (virtually the entire board resigned) and the church itself are under scrutiny and public ridicule. Wouldn’t it have been better for the board to have the courage to deal with the sin in the camp? Isn’t the purpose of governing bodies to practice leadership, courage to make difficult decisions and a foundation for accountability?
Is there something or someone in your life that you have been praying about that is clearly sin and you feel spiritual satisfaction because you are praying about it? Has it ever occurred to you that it is time to stop praying and act?
Just so there is no possibility that someone concludes I am suggesting you should stop praying about an issue, what I am suggesting is you act at the proper time. Isn’t it frustrating when there is a situation that needs to be resolved and someone throws on the pious act but doesn’t have the courage to do the right thing to resolve the issue? I’m not certain if God is less pleased with refraining from prayer or with spiritual cowards!
Written by Rev. Neil Fichthorn Rev. Neil Fichthorn is a seasoned conference and camping servant having served at Gull Lake Bible Conference, Sandy Cove Ministries as President, and an interim Executive Director at Pinebrook Bible Conference. He also served in church music for decades as a choir director and arranger. He has been Bill Welte’s mentor and friend for over 45 years.
Think About This: “A believer does not perform good works to live – but he lives to perform good works. The Consistent Christian, 1660.” – William Secker
This Week’s Verse to Memorize: For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. – 2 Corinthians 4:6