We need to avoid the mistake of the gentiles, thinking that God is like some sort of divine slot machine, that He is bound to hear us and give us what we want if we pray long enough and with enough fancy theological words. Further, we must also not think that somehow God is so distant from the world that He doesn’t really care what happens to us, so we’d better make sure that we take care of ourselves. “God looks after those who look after themselves” might be a well-known phrase, but it’s not a biblical one.
The word piety does kind of stick in the throat. What does it mean? Being pious for some can mean a holier-than-thou attitude that is off-putting at best and at worst is downright filled with spiritual pride. For others, being pious is deeply rooted in the history of the evangelical pietism of the Moravians, who influenced John Wesley and thus the whole evangelical awakening of the eighteenth century and on into our day. Most probably think of piety as some practical “spiritual disciplines” for the individual.