Serve Well but Don’t Neglect Prayer…a post by Jim

Joy and I celebrated our 40th anniversary this summer. We saved 5 years to do something very special. We traveled to Scotland and very much enjoyed a couple weeks there. In our time there I was reminded of a couple things. First, we should have saved for 10 years! Traveling is expensive. Second, the history of Scotland is violent. So much fighting between clans and other groups (e.g. Vikings and English). Third, the topography of that small country is amazingly diverse. From the pastoral land in the southeast to the rugged mountains of the northwest. A beautiful country.

But the thing that captured me the most came from our time at the Holy Island (in northeast England). A king gave Aidan a very small island as a base for his Christian missionary work. He and his few followers built a small monastery where people could come to learn about Christ. But the hustle and bustle of the monastery led Aidan to withdraw to a smaller island that could be accessed when the tide was out! He went there to give his life to prayer.

Within a few years northern England and most of Scotland turned from their pagan ways to embrace Christ. It didn’t happen primarily because of a large number of missionaries. It was because of prayer. Aidan and others gave themselves to a life of prayer for themselves and the people they served.

We live in a time where there are many avenues of evangelism. Thank God that many reach out with the Good News through social media, meetings, social justice and the like. But what I came away with from my time in Scotland was the necessity of prayer.

Can we give ourselves to more prayer?


  1. David Allgire

    I sent your post to our prayer team. We have people passionate about prayer, but sometimes our personal calling and passion can tempt us to minimize the other necessary things.

    However, when it comes to prayer, it feels like more often it happens the other way around. Our passion for sharing Jesus or teaching others or showing love can tempt us to minimize the essential work of prayer. In my contexts I have rarely seen a danger of too much spiritual seeking and calling out to God and not enough work. 🙂

    What I wrote to the prayer team when I copied your post to them:

    My initial thoughts were how many things are “yes, both” and not “one or the other.”
    For example– When I was in Washington DC a pastor I was talking to said to me, “Jesus doesn’t care what you believe, he cares what you do.” Which…is actually completely not true. It’s actually both. Jesus cares what you believe and what you do. If you read how many times and in how many different contexts Jesus emphasizes belief it’s actually stunning. “I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins” (John 8:24). In other words, “Jesus cares about what you believe.” 🙂

    Another pastor said to me about a year ago, “true spirituality, true religion is ‘visiting orphans and widows in their distress.’ It’s all about showing love!” Which is actually not true. Because he actually left out half of James 1:27. The full verse says, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” So, it’s both.

    Jesus even warns against false dichotomies directly when he rebukes the Pharisees in Luke 11:42, “You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.”

    In the church both are needed: The work of prayer and the work of “____________”

Leave a reply