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Prayer and Personal Responsibility
Prayer does not preclude personal responsibility and action on our part. In fact, it enhances our determination to do those things that our own hands can fulfill.
I am currently painting the outside of our house, little by little (an hour a day most days). Yesterday, after finishing a session, I cleaned up and put up my brushes, tools and paint. I forgot, however, that I had left our ladder leaning against the back side of the house. As were leaving the house last evening, I remembered my omission. While we live in a pretty safe neighborhood, and the ladder was in the backyard and pretty much obscured, I was still concerned that a squirrel or some other varmint might look at it with a lustful eye and make away with it! (not sure how many squirrels it would take to haul off a twelve foot ladder! But it'd be interesting to see...).
I really didn't feel like putting the ladder up, and was already getting in the car to leave. My first thought, therefore, was a prayer. "Father, I trust You to protect the ladder and keep someone from taking it." Instantaneously, a discomfiting feeling descended upon me. Immediately following was the realization that I was asking the Lord to honor my intention to lazily neglect my personal responsibility. I knew what I had to do, and told Frances, "I left the ladder in the backyard and have to put it up before we leave." I did so, and with much joy and thanksgiving for another experience in which our Heavenly Father reveals His faithfulness by motivating and empowering our own.
The interesting thing is that putting the ladder up actually was an answer to prayer. Yesterday morning, I had prayed, as most believers do. "Lord, lead and enable me to do Your will in this day, for Your glory." I have no doubt that putting that ladder up was the will of God, and I have no doubt that doing so was a specific and direct answer to my earlier request. Furthermore, the incident gave me an opportunity to share our Lord's glory with you by recounting my temptation to irresponsibility, and God's faithful working on my behalf.
Sorry, squirrels. You'll have to do without the ladder. And thank You, Father, that little by little and day by day, You tirelessly confirm the ancient promise of your loving devotion and determination...
"He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ."