Jesus is earthy.
He who through which the physical universe was created became an incarnate being of skin, muscle, bones and hair. These are earthy things. Jesus ate, drank, tasted food, sweat, bled, felt pain and fatigue, got blisters and stiff muscles.
How does this very earthy, material nature of Jesus inform our life of prayer?
Reading the Gospels, we are called to pay attention not only to what Jesus says, but what He does. Jesus did some very earthy stuff. He used the material world around him. It dawned on me one day that Jesus would pray for, say a blind man to be healed, and then he would “do” something. In John 9:6 we see Jesus making mud and applying the mud to the eyes of the blind man, resulting in his sight being restored. We witness Jesus feeding a multitude by taking the material resources at hand, bread and fish, praying and then doing something. He broke the bread and blessed it and gave it out. Jesus always seems to follow up his prayer by taking action.
We are called to do the same.
What good does it do to pray for the end of hunger if we do not share our food with the hungry? What good does it do to pray for a new job if I do not send out resumes and go on interviews? What good does it do to pray for good health if I ignore my doctor’s advice?
Jesus is always asking us to “do” something. Christianity is not a spectator sport. We are called to bear witness to the Good News, to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, provide shelter for the homeless, to “do this in remembrance of me” in the liturgy. I often have to self-reflect; are my prayers not being answered because I am not “doing” my part?