"Pray to God, but continue to row to shore."
An old friend of mine once told me that a girl he was dating, heavily, was reluctant to sign on to his offer of a longer relationship once they graduated from college. She told him, as I remember, that she was trying to listen to God's will and determine where He wanted her the next year, not where he wanted her--lower case--which is to say, my old friend. She was being sweetly spiritual, waiting on the Lord.
I thought the guy was getting a holy run-around. She probably neither wanted to carry this relationship into some yet-to-be-discovered region, nor abandon it. She had cold feet, numb in fact. Maybe she was waiting for some divine tip-of-the-hat, but it sounded to me as if neither she nor the Lord really wanted this relationship to go the distance.
"I told her," he said, "that waiting on the Lord is all well and good, but someone is going to fill in the blanks on the applications." That's what I remember him saying. In those long-gone, pre-computer days, it was fine to pray mightily, but somebody was going to have to slip job applications onto the barrel of the typewriter.
Today, 30-some years later, both are married to other people, which is clearly what God wanted anyway. He spoke all right.
"Pray to God, but continue to row to shore," saith the Russians, darling advice, or so it seems to me. "Pray to God, but pass the ammunition," saith American GIs in some war or other.
"Pray to God, but hold on to your day job" is good advice to aspiring artists. Pray to God when you get laid off, but hit the sidewalk the next day.
When serendipity suddenly sweetens one's life, some folks love to call whatever the unlikely incident "a God thing." Okay, but such pronouncements are slightly treacherous because we generally don't make such claims about horrors, only blessings.
I can't say I know that many Russians, but I like the line. Pray without ceasing, but keep an oar in the water. Don't be a holy fool.
I don't think you can go wrong on that one.