“If our prayer is not in harmony with our deeds, we labor in vain,” Abba Moses often told the young monks.
“How are we to accomplish such harmony?” they asked him one day.
“When we make that which we seek fitting to our prayer,” explained the saint. “Only then can the soul be reconciled with its Creator and its prayer be acceptable, when it sets aside all of its own evil intentions.”
How do we set aside evil intentions? I have had them. I think we all must because we are only human, after all, and sinners. I really long for congruency in my life, when all of my actions match the good intentions of my heart and what my words say about what Jesus teaches us. Do you want that also?
How do we do that? Sure, we read our Bibles, read good stuff by Christian authors, pray, worship, etc. But I think for myself all of that is but a clanging noise unless I also live my life in a way that expresses compassion, generosity, gentleness, hospitality, and kindness in deeds, in service to others.
Here’s an example. My next door neighbor tells me she is a born again Christian. One of my upstairs neighbors has a cross hanging from the rearview mirror of the SUV. Here am I, a close neighbor, and neither of these people have ever given me help when I have asked for it. Simple stuff such as bring in the groceries or take out the trash. I am handicapped and disabled and for several months now, I have not had the use of my left arm due to a traumatic injury to my shoulder. I have to call my atheist friend who cheerfully helps me.
“If our prayer is not in harmony with our deeds, we labor in vain.”