Prayer changes things. But so does action. As a ship tossed to and fro during a fierce storm, the lives of everyone on board were in danger. The captain gave the order to abandon ship, but the ship was short one life jacket. He called above the raging winds and waves, “Does anyone here know how to pray?”

One of the sailors stepped forward and said, “I know how to pray, sir.”

“Then go ahead and pray. The rest of us will take a life jacket.”

Maybe it was a little cruel for the captain and other crewmembers to leave their shipmate behind, but this story illustrates an important spiritual principle: Prayer is no excuse against taking precautions.

God has the ability to overrule in any circumstance, and He answers prayer. I understand these truths. But I also understand that God gives us judgment to make sound decisions that will keep us safe. (i.e. – If you are crossing the street and a truck pulls out in front of you, you don’t have to pray for God to show you whether or not you should get out of the way.) Many times we use prayer as an excuse for not thinking through situations. This is not only unwise, it is wrong. God has given us a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind for a reason. He intends for us to use it to its fullest potential so that we can foresee danger and take action.

Is there a situation in your life where you are praying without taking a life jacket? Maybe you are praying about taking a job in another state, but you haven’t checked for any churches in the area. Perhaps you are seeking to know God better, but you haven’t been reading your Bible or attending church. There are obvious things you can do to protect yourself. Don’t use prayer as an excuse against taking precautions. Pray, but remember there is no substitute for action.

Devotional by Dr. James A. Scudder