How about both?
Far too often we use prayer as an excuse to not do what we are supposed to do. When we have a problem we “pray about it,” which is great, but if we are unwilling to act appropriately in response to whatever God shows us about our situation, why are we praying? For example, it is wonderful to pray that God will meet someone’s need but if we are not at least willing to be the vessel used to meet it, our prayer is . . . well, hypocrisy. It is also wonderful to pray for forgiveness and mercy and grace if we find that we have done or said something wrong. But if we are not willing to turn from the wrong and actually start doing right our prayers are . . . hypocrisy. We are only acting.
Paul was a man of prayer but he was also a man of action. His prayers reached heaven because he was seeking to not only know but to do the will of God. As a result he heard from heaven. He allowed the Holy Spirit to lead him from place to place, to guide him in what he said and what he did. He didn’t “just” pray about situations. He prayed about them and made himself available. Prayer is important because it enables us to connect with our Maker, to “tap in” so-to-speak to God’s wisdom and power and strength. We not only receive guidance when we quiet our hearts to pray, we are encouraged that we can also “move mountains.” Anything is possible! But prayer is not supposed to be a crutch that makes us feel better so we can go about our day and do whatever we want. This is especially true when it comes to praying about things we actually do have control over. Our attitudes, the way we treat people, gossip . . . we can pray all day long that we will treat people better but if we do not begin acting on those prayers (in faith that God will give us the power to do so) our prayers are. . . hypocrisy. We are only acting.
All Christians pray as we were taught: “thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” but we do not always act on this prayer. Do we put our faith in action by loving our neighbors? By meeting the needs of those around us? By contributing to the cause of Christ? By not only asking for God to make us gracious people but actually him to convict and challenge us to be gracious? By doing what he prompts us to do, even if it’s humbling? By NOT doing what we know we’re NOT supposed to do?
If we are willing to pray we must also be WILLING to act. If we pray “thy will be done” we must also be willing to do the will of God.
Connection is key, we should never act on our own impulses or do good works just because they make us feel better. But we should be “acting” and “working.” That is what being a Christian—a “little Christ,” is all about.
” . . . work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life . . . ” ~Philippians 2:12-16 ESV
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 ESV
“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what goodis that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. . . you see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works.” James 2:14-18. 22 ESV
“The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” 1 John 2:6 NASB