Pray to God, Row to Shore

Barca-sense aiguaHave you ever heard the expression, “Pray to God, row to shore?” I use it sometimes as I try to help individuals take responsibility for their physical, emotional and spiritual health. For me, it brings up an image of passengers and crew launching a lifeboat as their ship sinks. They know that the open ocean is a dangerous place and they call upon God for help as they work hard to save themselves

It’s a simple concept – work for what you want, ask God for help and trust Him to come through. Yet too often we get it wrong. Some people never think of turning to God for help in their lives. Perhaps they visualize God as distant or angry and not likely to be interested in them. Or perhaps they deny God, unwilling to seriously explore the idea that, behind observable reality, an ultimate creator exists. That was me once.

Relying on their own strength, these individuals may work very hard for “the good life.” Sometimes the effort sees them through to their goals, but not always. Sooner or later they come up short, or they achieve their goals only to find that they don’t have “the good life” despite their achievements. That was also my experience.

Others make the opposite mistake. They deny their problems and pretend everything is fine. Or they call upon God to solve their problems without taking any concrete action to help themselves. In my experience, that’s not how God usually works. Just praying for good health won’t make you healthy. You’ve got to do some work.

Take a look at just about any miraculous story from the Bible and you will see that there was some sort of individual or group action involved beyond prayer. In short God did his part, but the individuals also did their part. And that’s how it is with our health and wellbeing. We do our part and he does his.

Now certainly, some individuals are afflicted with illnesses outside of their control. But that’s not the case for most of us. If you have a lifestyle illness, do you believe that God has willed your lifestyle and won’t help you change? Maybe. Maybe not. That’s for you to decide. In general, I believe that God will support us as we work towards a healthy mind, body and spirit.

What’s that look like? Try this – Your body is lean and muscular. You’re filled with energy, you sleep well and nothing hurts. It feels good to exercise. You are generally happy and rarely angry, depressed or frustrated. Others are attracted to you because of your patience, kindness and the love you radiate. You feel the loving presence of God and know that he is working in your life.

Now that’s good health! If you’re not moving in that direction what’s holding you back? Do you want to be well? Will you work for it? Will you pray to God, and hit the gym?