Prayer, planning vital to a successful outcome

Sunday, March 27, 2011

I have become fairly successful at being a handy man, a DIY kind of guy. Granted, my qualifications for success are somewhat jaded. For me, DIY success consists of a strict adherence to the "no blood" policy and having my product fairly closely resembling the original plan.

The best projects I have ever been a part of were ones where the plan was clearly drawn out in detail before any materials were purchased, any boards cut or any nails driven. Planning has proved to be vital to success.

Nehemiah was the DIY remodeler in Old Testament. His work to rebuild the walls of his home city reminds me that praying and planning are two processes that go hand in hand.

When Nehemiah was confronted with the devastating news of the destruction of his home city, the first action he took was to launch into a season of prayer and planning. In the depths of his soul he knew that the city should not be in that condition. He knew what it could be. He knew what it must become. Yet he did not speak to anyone about this for months.

In a culture that thrives on immediate results and measuring intelligence in sound bites, the idea of leadership not offering the perfect plan, the perfect solution within five minutes of the event not only seems odd but wrong. Nehemiah didn't see things this way.

He was broken by brokenness, he mourned for the mourners, and he was crushed by those whose spirits were crushed. Yet for four months he said nothing. For four months he prayed and he planned. His four months of prayer and planning formed the foundation of rebuilding plan that restored the collapsed walls in 52 days. He actually spent over twice as much time preparing for the work than the work actually took.

Prayer is the first vital step of any plan. Pausing, praying and planning cements in our hearts and in our heads what the greatest priority is and what needs to take place next. Prayer may not change the circumstances in ways we see, but it changes the way we see the circumstances. God will use times of prayer to soften the callouses on our hearts, making us aware of what in a rush we were ignorant of, perhaps even changing our plans.

Rob Hurtgen is a husband, father, minister and writer. Read more from him at

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