Stacey from Housewife in Flip-Flops made a good point in the comments that really got me thinking. She said:
I have to wonder about people who say to do things, not just prayer. Prayer's a fairly easy thing to do... you can do it while raising money for cancer research, driving to visit sick family and friends, etc., etc.
It got me to thinking about why a person would fight prayer. Why would someone object strenuously to something so simple, that requires so little of us? Then it occurred to me: maybe the reason is that what it really requires of us is the hardest thing, the one thing we can't conjure up for ourselves: faith.
Faith is more than just belief. Sure, it is belief that someone hears and cares about our prayers; but it is also something much harder, even for believers, to live. Faith is that kind of trust that acknowledges that we are not in control. It is "Thy will be done," and "Lord, I am not worthy, but say the word and I shall be healed." It is, in the final examination, the ability to keep trying, even when it's hopeless, because our effort may be from ourselves, but our hope is in God.
I can't credit myself for believing or for having faith. Faith is an unmerited gift, and one that I sometimes forget to use. But maybe I need to be more understanding of those who do not have it, and add silently that word, "yet." I can keep trying to speak the truth to someone, but it is in God that my hope must lie: that He will give the grace to hear that truth.
Maybe, just maybe, those moments of doubt, of near-despair, of self-reliance (which generally does lead to despair) exist as a reminder that I am not so different from those who believe that only doing can help, that prayer and relying on Someone greater than ourselves is doing nothing.
Faith isn't easy. We live in a world that teaches, conditions, even brainwashes us to believe that we can't trust anyone but ourselves. Of course, that's what the difference is between faith and the world: whom we dare trust. And before I let the bitter taste settle in my mouth, I'd better ask myself how fully I trust God. I am pretty sure I could find a lot of room for improvement.