Q: If salvation is a free gift of God, why should we pray and work for it?
Suggested Daily Reading: Nehemiah 4: 7-11
A:“Ora” and” labora” are two rhyming Latin words that mean pray and work. You need to do both. When Nehemiah heard that the enemies of Israel were gathering together against them, he prayed and set watches by day and night. He did both. Not one or the other, but both.
Imagine trying to row a boat with one oar. What will happen? Your boat will go in circles but not make progress. You need to row with two oars. This is true in order to make spiritual progress as well. You need to use both the oar of prayer and of work.
Ora and labora: You need to pray to God and use His means of grace. Imagine a vegetable farmer praying that God will give him a good harvest, but this farmer does not sow his crops or cultivate his fields. What will the outcome be? Or think of a farmer who uses the best seed, fertilizer and equipment, but he does not ask God to bless his labours. Can the farmer cause one seed to grow? The miracle of growth is God’s. Only God can cause a seed to sprout into a plant and to bring forth fruit. How are both farmers in our illustration making serious mistakes? What error is each making?
We can make similar mistakes when seeking to be saved. We can pray, but ignore the active use of God’s means of grace – attentively focusing on the reading and preaching of God’s Word. Or we can actively use the means of grace but forget that we cannot perform the miracle of giving ourselves spiritual life. This is solely God’s work. We must pray and ask Him for this.
We must do both. Pray and work. Ora and labora.
Are you actively using God’s means of grace? Are you seriously praying for God blessing as you do so? Scripture calls us to do both. Remember “ora” and “labora.” Are you “rowing” with both of these “oars”?