You can pray hundred times a day. But if you don’t take deliberate actions to change or improve yourself or your situation, your prayer is useless. You’re wasting time.
I believe in the power of praying and I have nothing against it. In fact, science confirmed that praying has health benefits.
One of my favorite authors, Benjamin Hardy, said that praying — specifically, a prayer of gratitude — allows people to seek for higher and better ways to live. Neuroscientist Andrew Newberg, also, discovered that praying can boost the happy hormone in our brain.
We can go on for pages and pages explaining the immeasurable benefits of praying. But this post isn’t about the benefits — it’s about people’s misconception that praying (without action) can improve or change them.
I know some people who believe that praying can change everything. Yes it can be powerful. But to attain the goal, prayer must be complemented with actions. Without actions, we’re just waiting for an elusive result.
Does praying ignite change?
I’m talking about the change we all want — changing our bad habits, changing our attitude, changing the way we handle our businesses, changing our nation, changing the way we work, changing the way we deal problems, changing the way we think, and so on.
We, by nature, are obsessed with change.
When we see things we don’t like, we want to change it. We want to replace something better, or something that satisfies us or improves our situation.
While it’s good to plan for change, the problem is, we never realize it’s hard. And for others who understand how hard it is, they rely on prayers. What puzzles me is that they only pray but don’t do something to change themselves or the situation — they don’t practice what they preach.
Again, I have nothing against praying. My point isn’t to stop praying. If it’s your everyday ritual, and it makes you feel good, live with it. Keep praying.
But praying without action won’t change you. It won’t change us. It won’t change the planet.
The Dalai Lama echoed a similar perspective [emphasis mine]:
“It is not enough simply to pray. There are solutions to many of the problems we face; new mechanisms for dialogue need to be created, along with systems of education to inculcate moral values. These must be grounded in the perspective that we all belong to one human family and that together we can take action to address global challenges.”
“We cannot solve this problem only through prayers… I am a Buddhist and I believe in praying. But humans have created this problem, and now we are asking God to solve it. It is illogical. We need a systematic approach to foster humanistic values, of oneness and harmony. If we start doing it now, there is hope that this century will be different from the previous one.”
“Individual prayer is relevant and useful. For society and the world, though, prayer is not meaningful. Peace comes through actions.”
Prayer Requires Action
If you want to change from being a late riser to early riser, don’t just pray that someone — a higher being — will wake you up. Do something. There are many ways to wake up early. But first, you need to believe that nobody can change it — only you. That’s the first step. You can learn from Jeff Goins, 8 Tips for Waking Up Early & Conquering the Alarm Clock.
If you want to change from being short-tempered to composed, don’t just pray it to happen. Don’t wish for it. Instead, take action. It’s hard, but I believe it’s worth a try. If it doesn’t work, keep trying new methods. You can start here.
If you want to change the way people treat you, don’t pray for it. Instead, understand the reason why they treat you that way. Are you being self-centered or cocky? Are you practicing what you preach? Perhaps, they don’t treat you fair because you’ve offended them without you knowing. Try to switch perspectives and practice empathy.
If your marriage or any relationship has become toxic, don’t just pray that one day everything will be alright. You have to make efficient solutions to save the relationship. Try counselling. Whatever — just do something. Don’t wish for your partner to change. Stop waiting. Stop hoping. Maybe it’s probably you who needs to change. Or if you can’t, why not accept life as it is?
If you want to improve the planet, don’t just pray and wait for the right time. We have the ability, but most of us are afraid to take risks. To take actions. To make a difference. Nikola Tesla did it. Gandhi did it. Martin Luther King, Jr. did it. Why can’t we?
If you want to stay healthy, stop living an unhealthy lifestyle. Stop smoking. Minimize stress. Get enough sleep. Go out and exercise. A healthy life doesn’t manifest through prayers alone, but by taking deliberate actions.
It doesn’t matter what your faith is, or who you believe in. What matters is that you’re willing to change through actions, or if not, accept things as they are.
I’m no perfect. There are areas in my life I want to improve. Sometimes I pray for clarity, for help. Sometimes I forget. But one thing is for sure, if I want to change something to better myself and get closer to my goals, it always takes hard work.