Prayer vs Good Works

I was having a discussion with my friend on prayer. He was insistent that prayer was secondary to good works to the point of being unnecessary. One of his supporting arguments was Jesus only taught his disciples how to pray when they asked him. If prayer was that important why didn’t He teach them earlier? Pls help me counter this argument.

I’m sorry but I think your friend is engaging in something about as necessary as counting fleas!!! :eek:

Prayer is good works, good works are a prayer. We should offer our good works to God for love of God. We should offer our prayer to God as an offering of our love to God.

If you are doing that and studying the Bible, and going to Mass, and taking care of yourself and family as God wants you to do…then who has time to nitpick whether the which is more important prayer or good works…

Do both, and offer both to God for his glory. He’ll let you know if he’s pleased with your offering. :slight_smile:

I don’t know why people try to rank or compare prayer and works, or why they feel that the two are somehow mutually exclusive.

But I think I might see where your friend is coming from.

Suppose I see a person who is hungry. I basically have four options:
[LIST]
*]Pray for him AND give him food.
*]Give him food only (maybe by taking him to a shelter, etc)
*]Pray for him only
*]Ignore him
[/LIST]

Option #1 is best. But if, for some strange reason, I am incapable of doing both, then it would be better to do the second option rather than the third.

My example, by the way, comes from James 2:15-16. St. Paul arrives at the same conclusion.

Good works are the fruit of prayer, not the other way around.

Some words from my friend:

Prayer or no prayer is a very personal thing. It is between you and God. My questions on prayers are simple:

  1. If prayer is “that important”, why didn’t Jesus teach his disciples how to pray, until they asked him. And he only taught them one simple prayer with a minimum number of words and with a minimum of time spent on the prayer. I also like to state here that I am not opposed to people saying and spending long time on prayers. It is their choice. My understanding on prayers differs from others.
  2. With all the prayers said by all concerned, be they Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, why is that there is so much trouble - wars, terrorism, hatred and what have we? Is God not listening or is it our prayers are wrong, or is there something greater than prayer that is missing?
  3. Jesus had said, don’t be like the hypocrites praying in public (street corners) or for people to hear or see. If we want to pray, go to our room, close the door and pray. So what it means? Acknowledging Him or not acknowledging Him is another matter.
  4. Jesus also said before we ask God the Father for our needs, He knows them. So is it that necessary we must keep on repeating what we need from Him?
  5. In Gethsemane, before the Crucifixion, Jesus went to pray alone and asked His disciples to wait. He didn’t ask them to go with Him to pray. Why?
  6. In His three years of public life, Jesus spent time on deeds and acts rather on prayers. Are His disciples following His good examples or they would rather spend time praying day-in and day-out?
    PS: FYI, rituals or reciting long prayers or chanting endlessly, could be a diversion from the actual situation and real world. Jesus lived the real world in His time.

Jesus taught His disciples to pray.

Jesus prayed.

This “should” be explanation enough.

I’m not sure what you friend has against prayer, but I can’t imagine a situation where prayer would be a bad thing?

I pray while doing something all the time.

Doing and praying are not mutually exclusive.

Chuck

[BIBLEDRB]James 5:16[/BIBLEDRB], [BIBLEDRB]Eph 6:18[/BIBLEDRB], [BIBLEDRB]Luke 21:36[/BIBLEDRB]

Three of many verses that tell us to be ever vigilant in prayer. We are told to do both, always be in prayer and always show love for our neighbors. Catholicism is a faith of both/and not either/or.

Your friend is imposing a rule on Christ that the importance of a teaching is directly co-related with the order in which He taught it. Your friend’s rule is arbitrary and unbiblical for that matter. Furthermore, the Jews had been praying for centuries before Christ. The people of God were familiar with prayer prior to the Incarnation.

  1. With all the prayers said by all concerned, be they Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, why is that there is so much trouble - wars, terrorism, hatred and what have we? Is God not listening or is it our prayers are wrong, or is there something greater than prayer that is missing?

The world is corrupt and subject to certain wiles of the devil who prowls about the world for souls to devour until Christ comes again. Plus there are plenty of people who don’t pray. Also the effectiveness of prayer is not co-related to how much war there is in the temporal world. The effectiveness of prayer is related to the proximity of souls to God regardless of whether there is war or not. Your friend is demanding empirical proof when God may want your friend to accept the power of prayer on faith.

  1. Jesus had said, don’t be like the hypocrites praying in public (street corners) or for people to hear or see. If we want to pray, go to our room, close the door and pray. So what it means? Acknowledging Him or not acknowledging Him is another matter.

What?

  1. Jesus also said before we ask God the Father for our needs, He knows them. So is it that necessary we must keep on repeating what we need from Him?

Since we are in the temporal world of time, and since God is outside of time, we must follow through in obeying Him and praying in order to bring about the will that He foresees. If you refuse to pray, then He foresees you not praying. Also, prayer involves listening to the prompt of God as to what He wants us to do in our lives. It’s not just God responding to us.

  1. In Gethsemane, before the Crucifixion, Jesus went to pray alone and asked His disciples to wait. He didn’t ask them to go with Him to pray. Why?

Jesus intended for them to pray while He also prayed (cf. Mk 14:38)

  1. In His three years of public life, Jesus spent time on deeds and acts rather on prayers. Are His disciples following His good examples or they would rather spend time praying day-in and day-out?

No, Jesus prayed quite a bit. I don’t know what your friend is talking about.

This is like saying which is better, eating only or drinking only. We can go longer with water only than with food only, but ultimately we will die either way.

Oh, so true! You responded magnificently!

If may I add, actually Jesus sometimes prayed all the night, so it is safe to say that He actually prayed more than any of us.

God bless you, Marco Polo!

And you. :wink:

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