Nothing to do but pray

Free will. Agency. Good works.

So much of our identity as Christians, as humans, is tied up with what we do. We move in the world, we make a mark. We daily reenact the story of the Fall as we choose good or evil, obedience or disobedience. We further the Kingdom as we do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly.  And we feel a great sense of frustration and helplessness when our friends and loved ones are burdened, and there is nothing we can do but pray.

And yet…how can we imagine we do nothing when our work becomes one with the work of the Spirit? What do we imagine we are doing when we pray?


The greatest gift we have to offer one another is indeed our collective prayer — not merely kind wishes, not simply good intentions, but deep prayer—the ability to hold, tangibly and intentionally, others in that abundant love that flows freely and gracefully within us and among us. This has substance. This has weight and heft. This, and this alone, is the source of deep healing, lasting transformation, and enduring peace.


From a pastoral letter by Episcopal Diocese of Colorado Bishop Robert O’Neill that was to be read in congregations across Colorado on Sunday, July 22, 2012 following the shooting at a cinema in Aurora, Colorado.


  1. Phyllis says:

    I used this piece as the opening devotional for vestry. Truly a lovely reflection.

  2. Awc says:

    Thanks. That’s pretty humbling. Bishop O’Neill’s words stopped me in my tracks when I first read them, and continue to move me to meditation.

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