All Work and No Pray?
Updated: Sep 27, 2022
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward." Colossians 3:23-24
Isn't it interesting how changing one letter in a word can make a difference? For example, think about how one letter changes pray to play. And we know, "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy--and Jill a rich widow!" according to Evan Esar. Similarly, All work and no pray make Jack a lukewarm Christian. On-Fire Believers combine work with prayer (and play, too).
While driving through town this morning, I noticed this message in front of Notre Dame Catholic Church in Kerrville, Texas. "When we work, we work. When we pray, God works."
"When We Work, We Work"
There are different ways we can interpret this statement; however, I read it from an "old school" perspective. Old school values say we give a day's work for a day's wages. That is, when we work, we work! Some try to work as little as possible and still expect a paycheck. No. When you work, work because:
"God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them." Hebrews 6:10
Give your best effort to your work. Work as if working for God as your boss. Work as if serving Him as your customers/clients. Whatever you do, in whatever capacity, work as if unto the Lord. Scripture encourages us once again:
"Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth." 2 Timothy 2:15
But sometimes, we can work to the point of exhaustion and burnout. We can also work for the wrong reason; we think working harder will earn us a starting position on God's Team in Heaven. But, we can never work that hard.
God never intended us to work 24/7. However, God was deadly serious about our need for rest. Recall what He said:
"Six days shall work be done, but the seventh is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death." Exodus 31:15
Yikes! Think about that the next time you wonder if you need to work on a rest day! None of us can keep all of the Old Testament laws. Thank God Jesus paid the price for us, and we are no longer held to the Exodus standard.
Jesus reassures us:
"Then He said to them, 'The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath." Mark 2:27-28
The Spirit of God's message to us is evident...He loves us enough to insist that we spend time in rest and prayer. Too much work (or play) without rest and prayer can lead us into lukewarm waters.
When We Pray, God Works
If you spend time in prayer and in the Lord's Word, you know that His Word is true when He says,
"Come near to God and He will come near to you. Wash your hands you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up." James 4:8-10
This is important. I believe too many lukewarm Christians think they can have all the benefits of God without humble repentance. God is not our Heavenly Pal without first purifying ourselves. We aren't on a first-name basis with God (not even "Papa") until we first acknowledge who is in command. It's NOT us.
Once we bow down in prayer, submit to His authority, and repent of our sins, we find the Holy Spirit eager to work for us. He lifts us up. This has been my most significant personal awakening after moving from a lukewarm Christian to an on-fire believer. Discover God's personality--a personality that's fun to be around. God has a sense of humor!
Think back to a real challenge in your life. It could have been an "approach-approach" conflict where you had two equally desirable options. Or, it may have been an "avoidance-avoidance" conflict with two equally undesirable alternatives. The point is that you need to make a decision. Then, frustrated with the complexity of your problem, you turn to prayer. Humbling yourself to God, you ask for discernment, Divine Guidance.
That's when the fun begins.
You feel a gentle nudge in your side. The Holy Spirit within says, "go sit on the sidelines and watch how a Master approaches this simple problem." The Holy Spirit smiles within you, and with it, you experience joy and a certainty that all is well.
The sign is correct. "When we work, we work. When we pray, God works." God sees our work, and we want to present ourselves as one approved by Him. But our good works, no matter how great they are, will never be good enough to earn our place in Heaven. We can't get to Heaven unless Jesus knows us on a first-name basis. And knowing Jesus is as simple as acknowledging Him as our Lord and Savior, having a humble heart as we ask for forgiveness and repent of our sins, and then remain in prayer. It is the prayer that establishes the relationship--the personal relationship--where Jesus becomes our greatest advocate. Work and pray...That's the secret to success in this life and in Heaven!