This might sound a little strange coming from a Pastor, but please stop saying that you will pray for me. I believe in prayer, and I pray a lot every day. But perhaps what needs to happen in our communities of faith and in the community at large is some genuine compassion.

Could it ever be that we pray when what needs to happen is for us to “do something”. True compassion is more than saying a prayer. True compassion is prayer with legs and hands that move and reach out in an act of love and kindness. The poor and hungry cannot be fed only by our prayers; they need food and shelter.

The ancient slogan of Benedictine monks is Prayer and Work. Yes they pray for hours each day. But they also work. I remember a marker in the woods near a Benedictine Abbey I visited in Canada. On one side was engraved “work” and on the other side “pray”.

In the book of Galations we read this simple verse: “Bear one another’s burdens and fulfill the law of Christ.” We see people all the time carrying burdens. Should we pray for them? Yes. But remember true compassion also means to help them carry their burden.