"Pray and Move Your Feet!"

There is an old West African proverb: “When you pray, move your feet.” I have said something similar in a little different way: “Be careful in your praying. You may be (and often are!) the answer to your own prayer.” Others see this almost as a command to “Put feet to your prayers!” What do we mean by these various sayings? Prayer is not just an important spiritual discipline for the Christian, it often leads to an “in the flesh” response and connection between the pray-er and the prayer request.

Prayer and Action!

While prayer is one of the spiritual disciplines, this doesn't mean it is just an academic, theoretical or forensic exercise! I have heard it said, "God inhabits the praises of His people." This suggests that it blesses God to hear the praise of His people in prayer. I believe that the Lord gets an even greater blessing when our praying is “incarnated” in devotion, commitment and service for Him. Our best efforts at praying involve action plans to follow through with deeds that demonstrate compassion in concrete ways.

Recently, I have taken on a new assignment from the national chaplain company I serve. Each week, I make calls to drivers of a trucking firm under contract. Usually, these are short pop-in calls to encourage the drivers by connecting with them and offering to pray about personal and family concerns.  Occasionally, depending on the need or response, these turn out to be longer discussions. Whether long or short, I always ask if I can pray for the driver before concluding the conversation.

Some time ago, I wrote about how to make a hospital visit. Since the Pandemic, some of this needed to be adapted, but these suggestions can still apply to making in-person visits as well as calling those who are hospitalized. ( https://www.mjkministries.com/2020/02/tips-for-making-hospital-visit.html ). There is one thing I have discovered in nearly fifty years of active ministry. Don’t just ask a person about their needs. Offer to pray immediately with them about those concerns. I would even say, if you don’t, then you have failed to do the one thing that the person needs and (in the majority of instances) expects you as a believer in Christ to do! Perhaps, in this instance you are not moving your feet, but you are moving your lips in intercession! That is the action required!

Recently, our lead pastor called on the church to spend a week in concerted prayer. The church was ready to open up the building at the end of the week to offer in-person services once again after several months of being locked-down with tight restrictions during Covid-19. I chose to participate in a morning prayer walk around the church building campus while others joined in a 24-hour prayer vigil. On both occasions, effort was required. Some literally moved their feet while praying, and others were moved in their hearts by scheduled hour-long intercessions. The specific results of these prayerful actions have yet to be fully accessed. However, the intent through this ministry of prayer was to get God’s people back on their feet and into connection with one another and serving our community for Christ. Many of us think the whole effort has already been a great success!

James, the brother of our Lord, has said, “Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead… Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do” (James 2:18-19 NIV). While he doesn’t specifically mention prayer in these verses, one could make the case by way of application for avoiding empty prayer promises. How many times have you heard, “I’ll pray for you!” after someone shares a specific need?  I’m sure that sometimes we do pray and it moves us to action. But, sometimes we don’t. And when we don’t, even though we may offer well wishes and promises to pray, James’ question confronts us, “What good is it?” (2:16). Faith and action work together!

Henri Nouwen, the late Catholic priest and prolific author, spent ten years pastoring special needs individuals through the L'Arche Daybreak Community of Toronto, Ontario. Nouwen offered this insight about prayer, "Prayer and action... can never be seen as contradictory or mutually exclusive. Prayer without action grows into powerless pietism, and action without prayer degenerates into questionable manipulation... Action with and for those who suffer is the concrete expression of a compassionate life and the final criterion of being a Christian." ( https://henrinouwen.org/meditation/prayer-leads-to-compassion/ ).

Again, this may surprise many of us, but when you and I pray, we ought to be prepared for God to use us as the answer to what we have so earnestly interceded on behalf of others. It's been my experience that God often puts us into action in the exact areas where we have been praying. This shouldn't surprise us because the Holy Spirit works regularly to lay someone or something upon our hearts for the express purpose of getting us involved. 

What should be our response? Let's keep praying and of course, let's keep moving toward others in need! "Lord, make me a channel of blessing today, make me a channel of blessing I pray!"

Mike Keppler, retired pastor,
active churchman and
doting grandparent.
Contact: drmjkeppler@gmail.com


  1. Nice writing Mike! I especially like how you are a chaplain of sorts for many truck drivers who move throughout the highways of this land. Your statement, "I believe that the Lord gets an even greater blessing when our praying is “incarnated” in devotion, commitment and service for Him." is so very Franciscan! Francis of Assisi would take the brothers and tell them, "Let us preach to the good people!" As he walked through the town of Assisi he would look those he met in the eye and say, "Good morning good people!" When they reached the other end of the city, the newer brothers would wonder why they didn't preach. Francis assured them that a loving gaze, joyful encounter and a few heartfully-spoken words were indeed a way of speaking the Christ, the WORD in an incarnational way that would flow from the gospel. Thank you for the way you live out the Doobie Brother's song, "Taking it to the street!"

    1. Thanks, Dan for your encouragement to keep moving toward the "good people" who are everywhere and that need the "incarnated" gospel of Christ! Your perspective always blesses me!

  2. Excellent article! Very practical! Let's all put feet to our prayers!

  3. Yes Lord make me a channel of blessing to those I encounter and continue to help me move my feet when I pray. Hallelujah


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