WISDOM FOR LIVING DEVOTIONAL
NOVEMBER 13, 2020
TOPIC: PRAYER IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR HARD WORK
BY T. O. BANSO
“Work hard and cheerfully at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and the Master you are serving is Christ. But if you do what is wrong, you will be paid back for the wrong you have done. For God has no favorites who can get away with evil” (Colossians 3:23-25 New Living Translation).
God created work; work is not a product of the fall of man. Work is not a curse. Genesis 2:15 says, “Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it” (New King James Version).
Truly, Jesus taught us that men ought always to pray, and not to faint (Luke 18:1). However, it is grave ignorance to think that with prayer alone one can make progress in life. The Bible teaches us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17), and every Christian should pray. But as important as prayer is, prayer doesn’t excuse anyone from hard work.
There’s the labour of prayer you must engage in (Acts 1:14, 6:4; Romans 12:12; Colossians 4:2, 12) but you must also work hard in your office, business, school, or whatever is your calling or vocation. You must not be lazy. “Lazy people who refuse to work are only killing themselves” (Proverbs 21:25 Good News Translation).
Without talking, ants teach human beings a lesson on diligence! “Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which, having no captain, overseer or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest. How long will you slumber, O sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep — So shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, and your need like an armed man” (Proverbs 6:6-11 New King James Version).
Prayer alone will never make a student pass his exams or excel in his academics; every student must study hard. Diligence is one of the ingredients for success in life; in fact, it’s a constant. “Hard work will give you power; being lazy will make you a slave” (Proverbs 12:24 Good News Translation). The New Living Translation says, “Work hard and become a leader; be lazy and become a slave.”
Work hard, don’t be lazy. Proverbs 12:27 says, “The lazy man does not roast what he took in hunting, but diligence is man’s precious possession” (New King James Version). Diligence must be your precious possession in life. You must deploy your energy to productive ventures. The apostle Paul told the Thessalonians, “Even while we were with you, we gave you this rule: ‘Whoever does not work should not eat’” (2 Thessalonians 3:10 New Living Translation).
Laziness will sentence anyone to poverty. “He who has a slack hand becomes poor, but the hand of the diligent makes rich. He who gathers in summer is a wise son; He who sleeps in harvest is a son who causes shame” (Proverbs 10:4-5 New King James Version). In the same vein, Proverbs 13:4 says the soul of a lazy man desires and has nothing; but the soul of the diligent shall be made rich. “In all hard work there is profit, but the talk of the lips leads only to poverty” (Proverbs 14:23 World English Bible).
Nobody can truly succeed in life without hard work. Even if your main calling, as a minister, is prayer, you must work hard at it. No matter the grace of God upon your life, you must add diligence to your life for that grace to make an impact. The apostle Paul said, “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10 King James Version). Did you see that Paul still had to labour in addition to the grace of God upon him?
He told the Corinthians: “Isn’t it because of my hard work that you are in the Lord?” (1 Corinthians 9:1 New Living Translation). Also, Paul told the Galatians, “I fear for you. I am afraid that all my hard work for you was worth nothing” (Galatians 4:11 New Living Translation).
From these scriptures, we see that Paul didn’t just work, he worked hard; he was diligent. If he wasn’t, he wouldn’t have been able to make all the missionary journeys he made, most times, in unfavourable conditions. He wouldn’t have been able to write all the books of the Bible he wrote. It takes hard work to do all this.
Hear what Paul said again about his work-life: “They say they serve Christ? I know I sound like a madman, but I have served him far more! I have worked harder…” (2 Corinthians 11:23 New Living Translation). Please take note of the phrase “I have worked harder.” Paul went further to highlight all the suffering he went through (verses 23-28).
Even in adversity, he remained steadfast. In an earlier chapter, he said, “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed — always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body” (2 Corinthians 4:8-10 New King James Version). Paul didn’t wait for a favourable condition to do his ministry. “If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done” (Ecclesiastes 11:4 New Living Translation).
Paul fought the good fight, finished the course, and kept the faith (2 Timothy 4:7). He followed the footsteps of Jesus who said, “I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do” (John 17:4 New King James Version). That wouldn’t have been possible without hard work. He laboured in prayer but went beyond that. He diligently went about preaching the gospel.
What is your career or profession? Don’t depend on prayer alone; prayer is not enough. Work and pray. In your place of work or at your desk, be diligent. It is not wise to constantly lock your shop or office at the time you’re supposed to be there, no matter how prayerful you are, and think you’ll prosper. Who will attend to the clients or customers you have prayed for? Angels?
You shouldn’t be habitually at home, the church, or on the mountain praying when you’re supposed to be in the class, office, or your work-place. If you’re an employee doing that, your employer will be justified to sack you and that’s not persecution. You shouldn’t be robbing your employer collecting the money you didn’t work for (Titus 2:10). You must earn your wages. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says there is a time for everything, a season for every activity under heaven. There is a time there for every purpose and for every work (verse 17b).
Christians should have a reputation for being diligent at work and in all their endeavours. “Lazy people are a pain to their employer. They are like smoke in the eyes or vinegar that sets the teeth on edge” (Proverbs 10:26 New Living Translation). On the other hand, “Faithful messengers are as refreshing as snow in the heat of summer. They revive the spirit of their employer” (Proverbs 25:13 New Living Translation). Christians shouldn’t be seen as being full of religion but failing to be good staff or good citizens. Daniel Webster says, “Whatever makes men good Christians, makes them good citizens.”
Paul wrote to the Colossians (but also to all Christians), “Work hard and cheerfully at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and the Master you are serving is Christ. But if you do what is wrong, you will be paid back for the wrong you have done. For God has no favorites who can get away with evil” (Colossians 3:23-25 New Living Translation).
We must pray hard but we must also work hard. We must pray without ceasing but we must work hard at work. We must labour in prayer but prayer is not enough. We must work hard.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The LORD be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: In the name of Jesus, I shall pray without ceasing but I shall also work hard in my office, business, school, calling or vocation. I shall not neglect prayer but I shall not substitute hard work with prayer. Holy Spirit, help me to represent Christ well in my office or work-place. I shall not be a lazy worker. I shall work hard and cheerfully as if I am working for the Lord, not people.
(For over 300 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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