There are many people who have great intentions with the phrase “Thoughts and Prayers," yet in the same breath, it may have become the new “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” that James writes about in his letter.
Is prayer a good act? Is it good to bring before God our brokenness and distress over what is happening in the world or even in in our present community? Yes, by all means may we be a people of prayer, a people that bring before God our needs, supplications, and frustrations. With the devastations that have recent hurricanes, fires in California, wars around the world, we seem to be inundated with devastating news. Yet if our thoughts and prayers do not lead us to action what good comes of them?
If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. - James 2:15-17.
James lays out what I would consider a great example of “Thoughts and Prayers”. A member of the community is lacking clothing and daily food and all that is offered are hollow words that neither cloth nor feed the one who is hungry and cold. What good is that? Hopefully, we are all on the same page in thinking that those words are pointless and meaningless. What speaks louder than those words? Feeding and clothing the one who is in need! Our faith without action is dead, it is really nonexistent. If our claim to follow Christ simply leads us to “Thoughts and Prayers” our faith is dead, it is pointless. While this seems like very harsh words, they ring true.
While we can’t all jump on planes and fly down to help with hurricane relief, or help put out fires in California, or broker peace in the middle east, we all do have situations in our communities that cause us to show our faith through what we do. It is easy to offer “Thoughts and Prayer” for travisty far away, but we only need to look at our community to see that our “Thoughts and Prayers” without action is dead faith, pointless. Are we simply posing with faith or does our faith really drive us to change the world for the better?
Our actions animate our faith, they give it life, they make it real. We must go beyond “Thoughts and Prayers” in our lives, they feed and cloth no one.
May we be a people whose “Thoughts and Prayers” lead them to action. May we be a people whose “Thoughts and Prayers” are used to organize and bring change in our churches, community, and world. May we be a people whose “Thoughts and Prayers” are animated by feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, protecting the orphan and widow, bring healing to the broken and hope to the hopeless.