“A time to pray and a time to pack”

There is a story about a minister who was serving a small parish in a small town, and was offered a much larger church at a much larger salary. He told the pulpit committee, “I’ll let you know in a week or so.”
The chairman of the church board found out that the minister had been offered the other church, so he stopped by the parsonage to find out whether or not the minister would be moving. He was met at the front door by the minister’s young son. The board chairman said, “I understand your father has been offered another church with a much higher salary.”
The young man said yes, he had.
“Well,” said the board chairman, “where is your father right now?”
The young man said, “He’s in his study, praying for God to tell him whether to go or stay.”
The board chairman said, “Well then, where is your mother?”
The young man said, “She’s upstairs packing.”
Many jokes have been made about how often, when a minister feels “called” to move to another church, it just so happens to be a larger church with a larger salary. It seems that in the matter of ministerial relocation, God very seldom ever calls a minister to a smaller church and smaller salary.
But in a way, maybe the minister’s wife was right. There is a time to pray, and there is a time for action, and it is often the better part of wisdom to know the difference.
Perhaps you’ve heard the story about the boy and his grandfather who went fishing one day. As they crossed the neighbor’s field to get to the river, the neighbor’s bull charged after them. They were running as hard as they could across the field, and the little boy cried, “Grandpa, maybe we should stop and pray!”
But his grandfather shouted back, “Just keep running. I keep prayed up for times like this!”
There is a time to pray, and a time to act.
Even more to the point, praying is never an adequate substitute for doing. As Jesus said to his followers, “What good does it do for you to call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” Praying is never a substitute for doing. Praying is never a shortcut to save us from hard work. It is never appropriate to ask God to do for us what God expects us to do for ourselves. In praying, we shouldn’t be giving God instructions, we should be reporting for duty.
As someone once put it in a little piece of poetry:
“Thy will be done on earth,”
on bended knee we pray,
then leave our prayer before the Throne,
and rise and go our way.
And earth is filled with woe
and war and trouble still,
for lack of those whose prayer is
“Lord, I’ve come to do thy will.”
Thy will be done on earth?
Lord, grant us grace to see,
that if thy will is to be done,
it must be done by me.

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