Pray with your legs

“I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.” — Frederick Douglass

“I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.” — Frederick Douglassprayer, pray

Okay – I’ve referenced this quotation over the years and it continues to prompt a whole lot of questions from you, our readers. People want to know what that means, and furthermore, can I find scripture to support whatever it means.

Yes, I see far too many people who are “praying” for solutions and answers – and simply living in that prayerful mode – hands folded and eyes closed, waiting on God to supernaturally give them the specific answers that will remove their challenge. So, just how does God answer our prayers?

Imagine any of these situations with me:

  • You really need a job
  • You’d like a better car
  • You want to make peace with your spouse
  • Your lawn mower is broken
  • You want to have a best-selling book
  • You would like to have a college degree
  • Your lease is up in 30 days, and you can’t afford a house for your family
  • You want to be a more effective parent
  • You must have $5,000 for a new air conditioning unit

I believe God knows our needs, cares for us and is the providential supplier of everything we need. But I also believe that his delivery system requires our active participation – “praying with our legs.” If you need a job, identify 30-40 target companies; contact them each three times and God will provide a job. If you want a best-selling book, write something of value then be willing to persist through the rejection of 14 publishers as Max Lucado did with his first book (his books have now sold over 30 million copies.) – and watch God open doors. If you want a college degree, explore six options for doing so that are possible even while you continue working. Block out 2 hours a day for focused study and see God allow that degree to be yours.

And can I find scripture to support faith and prayer that involve our legs? Oh yeah. My favorite is in Exodus 14:15. Moses is dealing with those whining, complaining children of Israel who see the Egyptians coming after them in the desert. I can just see them on their knees, praying and begging God to solve their problems.  They knew God had led them out, and they expected another miracle to protect them. But the verse says – “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Quit praying and get the people moving! Forward, march!’” (Living Bible) Ouch – quit praying.  Really?  Yes, sometimes our actions say far more about our faith than sitting still, wishing, hoping and yes, praying. Tweet This

God provides food for the birds – but he doesn’t just show up and throw it in their nest. Sometimes the exercise of faith we need most may be to engage our spiritual quadriceps, stretch those hamstrings and use our gluteus maximus for something other than supporting our head while we pray.

So how are you “praying with your legs?”

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  • Cliff Feightner

    You’re expressing a fervent prayer
    And you don’t think there’s someone who’ll care
    But I’m telling you what
    Unless you get off your butt
    You are just praying into thin air

    • Rachael

      Love it, Cliff. You are amazing with those rhymes.

      • Cliff Feightner

        If we had more preachers telling folks to get off their butts when they had prayer requests, we would see more prayers answered.

    • Love it! You’re a poet and don’t even know it!

  • Paul Bonk

    Pray like everything depends on God… then work like everything depends on YOU!

  • Vickie Smith

    Sweet! Waiting on the Lord is totally misunderstood. I am prayerfully working on a project right now… and if I don’t actually work on it a feel a spirit of conviction… as in “remember that project” and why are you doing “that” it’s a distraction from what I need to get done….working through barriers of fear and perfectionism but working! totally sharing this!

    • Vickie – sounds like you understand the principle. I like your phrase “prayerfully working”

  • Dan

    I like the joke about the man who bought an overgrown, run down, neglected piece of property and worked for months on cleaning it up. His neighbor commented so much and so often that “It’s amazing what you and the Lord have been accomplishing!!!” The fatigued man had enough after months of hearing “You and the Lord” and said, “No offense, but you should’ve seen this place when the Lord had it all by himself.”

  • Daniel Goodwin

    Another interesting tidbit on this topic that I just heard Dan Lapin talk about: The children of Isreal marched into the water, then God Parted the waters. They had to have both faith, AND show that they were committed, by marching into the sea.

  • Ryan Reger

    Another phrase I’ve heard that describes this is “God can’t direct a parked car.”
    Good stuff, Dan!!