Pray with your legs

“I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.” — Frederick Douglass

Okay – I referenced this quotation last week and it continues to prompt a whole lot of questions from you, our readers. People want to know what that means, and furthermore, can I find scripture to support whatever it means.

Yes, I see far too many people who are “praying” for solutions and answers – and simply living in that prayerful mode – hands folded and eyes closed, waiting on God to supernaturally give them the specific answer that will remove their challenge. So, just how does God answer our prayers?

Imagine any of these situations with me:

  • You really need a job
  • You’d like a better car
  • You want to make peace with your spouse
  • Your lawn mower is broken
  • You want to have a best-selling book
  • You would like to have a college degree
  • You want to be a more effective parent
  • You must have $5,000 for a new air conditioning unit

I believe God is the providential supplier of everything we need. But I also believe that his delivery system requires our active participation – “praying with our legs.” If you need a job identify 30-40 target companies; contact them each three times and God will provide a job. If you want a best-selling book write something of value then be willing to persist through the rejection of 14 publishers as Max Lucado did with his first book (his books have now sold over 30 million copies.) – and watch God open doors. If you want a college degree explore six options for doing so that are possible even while you continue working. Block out 2 hours a day for focused study and see God allow that degree to be yours.

And can I find scripture to support faith and prayer that involve our legs? Oh yeah. My favorite is in Exodus 14:15. Moses is dealing with those whining, complaining children of Israel who see the Egyptians coming after them in the desert. I can just see them on their knees, praying and begging God to solve their problems. And the verse says – “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Quit praying and get the people moving! Forward, march!’” (Living Bible)

God provides food for the birds – but he doesn’t just show up and throw it in their nest. Sometimes the exercise of faith we need most may be to engage our spiritual quadriceps, stretch those hamstrings and use our gluteus maximus for something other than supporting our head while we pray.

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30 Responses to “Pray with your legs”

  1. wendystaas Says:

    Fantastic Dan!!! What a magnificent blog post!! This is so true, plus what people don’t realize is that the LORD doesn’t always answer (actually most of the time he doesn’t) right away. There are things to be learned! The Lord teaches, molds us and shapes us to prepare us for our next adventure. . . if we refuse to get going and learn from him you could miss out on exactly his perfect plan! Get in the Living Word Daily – exercise, pray, reflect and take action!!!

  2. Valerie Green Says:

    Wow!? You explained to us, what we were doing wrong in such a short and sweet note, I get it now……..

    Thank you!


  3. Sutton Parks Says:

    A friend at church says, “Pray as if it is up to God, work as if it is up to me”. I can get bogged down in my doubts, though. Father Gordon says, “Believe your beliefs and doubt your doubts. Many people doubt their beliefs and believe their doubts”. I’ve complained to God in times of trouble, and found out His answer lies in my actions. Jesus said, “Pick up your mat and walk”. (for me, it’s fear that can cripple me).
    “faith without works is dead”. Great post Dan, it is a reminder to me of some thing I tend to forget.

  4. Rick Conner Says:

    It all comes down to being responsible enough to take action.This is true for the righteous as well as the sinner.

  5. Justin Lukasavige Says:

    I couldn’t agree more Dan. I sometimes get tired of hearing people say they’re waiting on God. What if God’s waiting on them?

    I wrote a blog post about this over a year ago that caught a lo of flack.

  6. Scott Says:

    Romans 16:19,20 “For the report of your obedience has reached to all; therefore I am rejoicing over you, but I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil.
    The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.”

  7. Natalie Crabtree Says:

    My husband and I finally “got” this a few months ago, got (way) out of our comfort zone and started our own business, After 16 months, he got a job and now we have a side business we hope to grow as well as a steady income.

    As Gandalf told Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit, “I’m looking for someone to go on a grand adverture with me, but can’t find anyone willing.” We felt that was exactly what God was telling us.

  8. Marolyn Says:

    My favorite scripture support would be…..the Red Sea didn’t part until they put their feet in!

    Have a blessed day praying with your legs!

  9. Beverly Says:

    What an awesome article. I am printing it out to give to my children and my husband. This is so true. So many times we pray and wonder why God isn’t answering. It’s not that He isn’t answering, but that we aren’t doing anything except praying. God truly does help those who help themselves!! Thank you for the wonderful article!

  10. Leah Chapman Says:

    I am reminding of a poem called “The Rooster and the Hen” that Dave Ramsey quotes in his book, “Financial Peace”. The poem tells of a rooster and a hen that are both hungry. It seems that the worms that were abundant during the rainy season have disappeared. The rooster whines and complains and finally goes to bed hungry. The hen does not go hungry, however. Here’s the ending to the poem:

    “But the Old Black Hen hopped to her perch
    And dropped her eyes to sleep
    And murmured in a drowsy tone,
    “Young man, hear this and weep.
    I’m full of worms and happy
    For I’ve eaten like a pig.
    The worms were there as always,
    But, boy, I had to dig!”

    Sometimes to get what we want not only do we have to look for it, sometimes we have to DIG!

  11. Frank Says:

    Faith without works is dead.

  12. Ana Says:

    Hi Dan.
    You are so right when you say you have to pray with your legs. Because of different circumstances growing up I wasn’t able to get a college degree. Now in my late fifties this was something I still really wanted to do.
    I finally got off my knees and started searching for a college program I could do while still working full time. In 2007 I finally found the program that would fit my work shedule. I attended class on Saturdays from 7:30AM to 6:30AM. I started September 2007 and I am proud to say, that on May 16, 2010, at the age of 60, I received my BS in Business-Executive Management. I am now looking for an online program for my MBA and I know if I keep searching I will find it.

    If you take one step, God will see you through it. I’m still praying, but not on my knees!


  13. Amy Says:

    Another scripture reference might be John 5:5-9. The man was asked if he wanted to be made whole and at his reply Jesus told him to rise, take up his bed and walk. The man had to participate in his blessing! He had to be obedient –> get up, pick up his stuff, and walk. So, to recieve what he had been waiting for, he had to begin to move with faith that he had recieved it.

  14. Diana Pelham Says:

    It’s the difference between faith being a noun and faith being a verb.

  15. Larry Morrison Says:

    Actually, Marolyn, that was the Jordan River (Joshua 3) but you still make the point.
    For a lighter note, another good quote:
    Man who stand on mountain-top with mouth open wait long time for roast turkey to fly in.

  16. Bonnie Says:

    Amen! Here are some more scriptures that support this. James 2:14-26 (King James version); faith without works is dead and cannot save us. In other words, there is no faith if we don’t do the work. Also, it’s comforting to know that we take “our works” with us (see Revelations 14:13); well, it will be comforting as long as they’re good works. Has anyone else experienced this? You pray in the morning and all throughout your day you get little inspirations on where to go and what to do and what to say. There’s another really cool thing that happens. We can become God’s hands and feet. He’ll inspire us to help others in the moment that they need help. God’s timing is perfect. If we’re in tune with His will we can help make miracles happen (in our own lives and in the lives of our family, friends and neighbors). Keep the faith – one step at a time. Faith is an action word.

  17. Eric Julin Says:

    Why did Frederick Douglass “walk his faith”?

    When I think of who should I have as a hero surely one example must be Frederick Douglass, Frederick Douglass was a unique person, like no other (as are all of us). He grew through his life’s experiences and responded to them (as we all must). Why did Frederick teach himself to read, start Sabbath Schools for fellow slaves, learn a ship calking trade, escape to the North and become an eloquent and respected speaker and others died in despondence in the fields? The simple “answer” is: he took what God gave him, thought about it, and used it. He did not use other things, he used his (Frederick’s) things – the things God put in his hands. More important he kept alive the spark, the hope, the faith, within himself.

    He saw events happening to him as in God’s hands. To quote him, “I may be deemed superstitious, and even egotistical, in regarding this event as a special interposition of divine Providence in my favor [being moved to Baltimore]. But I should be false to the earliest sentiments of my soul, if I suppressed the opinion. I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and incur my own abhorrence. From my earliest recollection, I date the entertainment of a deep conviction that slavery would not always be able to hold me within its foul embrace; and in the darkest hours of my career in slavery, this living word of faith and spirit of hope departed not from me, but remained like ministering angels to cheer me through the gloom. This good spirit was from God, and to him I offer thanksgiving and praise.”

    Would to God I could be like Frederick Douglass, or Benjamin Franklin, or Theodore Roosevelt. But God, I think, world rather me be like myself.

  18. Alan Says:


    I see more and more people in this world that think they deserve better, but they are not doing anything but whining about how bad it is, instead of getting out there and making a difference! If only people would focus on the good and not the bad. For me… repeating something good is praise, unlike repeating bad stuff, which I classify as gossip.

  19. Vanessa Says:

    I love it! “Pray with your legs” –as it is written in James 2:17 (Amplified version) “So also faith, if it does not have works (deeds and actions of obedience to back it up), by itself is destitute of power (inoperative, dead).” –again, I love it and shall continue to practice it while passing it on.

  20. lydie Says:

    i’d like to praise the lord for this new revelation about praying and thand Rev .Miller for this fact there’s long time have been devoting in prayer for my professional life.this message is a new weapon within my hand that i’m going to use for my future devotion.thanks a lot.God bless you and your ministry.

  21. Annie Says:

    Great article Brother Dan. I have always been guided in my God-given Ministry- (which is taking care of God’s little lambs) by James 2:15-24 KJV…..and I work very hard to see that poor children in my country go to school….and God has really been pouring out His blessings on all my endeavours. You see, I do more than just pray for the needs of these poor children – I take care of their needs as well. I give of my time with a willing and cheerful heart, seeing to it that their needs are met through my deeds and not just my words. In the same way, I maintain a working faith…I pray and I work, I fast and I work and God has never fail me… times when funds are low…I get a God-given idea…and I act upon it, no matter how “silly” it might look to others….and that idea just bring in the funds to meet every challenge. So then my friends, my faith and my actions work together, and my faith is made complete by the fruit that I produce,,,,,I pray with my legs and hands too…..because whatever my hands find to do I do it with all my heart to see to the welfare of God’s little lambs.

  22. Financial Bondage Says:

    I like this. Thanks. Good stuff Dan.

  23. Paul Wilson Jr. Says:

    Faith without works is dead. We’re waiting on God, but God is often waiting on us to “do something!”


  24. Bradley d Jones Says:

    Excellent! God wants us first to take that leap of faith, and that can be difficult to do at times, as we are often more concerned with what the world thinks than what God thinks. God will ultimately reward those who take action with their faith.

  25. Tiffany Says:

    I’m taking a class about blogs, wikis, and podcasts. My second assignment was to find a blog that I was interested in, read a blog entry, and then comment on it. I chose your blog because I love your 48 Days book, and I really admire and respect you. And this blog entry did not disappoint! Thank you for those encouraging words!

  26. Archie Says:

    Philippians 4:13 says Christ will “strengthen” us so that we will be able to do the things we need to do. What benefit would it be if he just gave everything to us, without any participation on our part? Sounds kind of like welfare, doesn’t it?

  27. Brian Phillips Says:

    Great advice. It’s not enough to talk the talk–we have to walk the talk. Without actions all the dreams and plans in the world won’t amount to anything.

  28. Josh Bulloc Says:


    I agree, I just feel better about things if I am taking action. I seem to frustrate people around me when I just want to take action (especially when they like to have meetings).

    Josh Bulloc
    Kansas City, MO

  29. Annie Says:

    “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” Philippians $:13
    As I reflect on this Scripture this morning… Here are my thoughts…. If I should say to you “I can do all things” you would probably say to me …”You have too much self-confidence” but when I add the second stanza “through Christ which strengtheneth me” You will have to agree………. “that is God-confidence” and being in possession of these two combination gives us, my friends, the “winning edge” every time.
    We need to personalize the Scriptures as we read them…Let us personalize Psalm 1:3 “I shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, bringing fruit in my season; my leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever I do it shall prosper.” Let us, as God’s people, write it down, say it, believe it, repeat it, and then go out and live it.
    If we want to release the power of God that’s already within us, let us as God’s people begin taking these seven (7) steps:-
    1) Understand clearly that material things must never be our first pursuit..”Seek first His kingdom…all these things will be given to us as well (See Matthew 6:33).
    2) Realize that God cannot move where there is no faith (See Hebrews 11:6) so we must begin developing ours… EVEN IN SMALL THINGS.
    3) Keep in mind that God will always use something that we already have.
    4) Look within ourselves, acknowledge what He has given us and make it available to Him.
    5) Remember, God doesn’t rain down money from heaven. He gives us thoughts and creativity…what we do with them is our gift back to Him (Deutronomy 8:18).
    6) It is not enough to acknowledge our gifts, we must use them in order to reach our highest potential.
    7) Give God all the glory! When the praise comes, pass it on to Him. Now that we know the steps…..let us as God’s people start walking!!

  30. Darren Says:

    This is a good reminder for action-oriented people like me! Yes, we should pray for direction. But we also need to act on that direction we receive.

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