HOPE, Ark. (BNC) by Barry Haynes — 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.

He turned the negative into a positive when he was confronted by the king about 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 who 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’s day, we are surrounded by critics who throw doubts and fear that undermine the faithful and cast suspicion on God and his people. Like Nehemiah, we must 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.

Barry works with the Hope congregation and graciously permitted BNC to republish this article from his weblog.