Friday, February 24, 2017

Pray First, Plan Afterwards

Recently, while reading a book on prayer,
I came across this simple,
but profound statement,
“Pray first, plan afterwards”.
And I found myself digging deeper.

It's true that God expects us to be orderly,
to manage our time, to be wise stewards,
to prepare well and discipline ourselves.
1 Corinthians 14:40
Let all things be done decently and in order.

1 Corinthians 14:33a
  For God is not the author of confusion,
but of peace.

  But, how often do we plan, plan, plan
our ministries and programs and meetings
in our churches, and then,
the day or week before the event we say,
“Now we need to pray about this”.
Raise your hand if you're guilty!
I don't think we consciously go about NOT praying,
but we just let it slide in the
business of the preparation,
planning down to the finest detail,
without ever asking God what it is
He wants us to do,
or how He wants it to be done.

It's almost like we say to God,
“Ok, God, we've got this all planned out,
we have all the bases covered,
we've thought of everything,
we have our contingency plan in place,
we know exactly where we're headed
and the goals we want to accomplish
through this ministry, now bless it, please”.

Ok, so maybe we don't say that aloud,
but isn't that what we're saying
in our hearts, when we fail
to get on our knees before the Lord
and pray for His will and way
before we start to plan?

How different would our programs and ministries turn out if we took the time to pray first, and plan afterwards? Would we find God leading us in a totally different direction? Would it help us see the bigger picture that God has for us? God is omnipotent and has all of heaven at our disposal, yet we work on our tiny, tiny plans, while He is waiting to open the floodgates of heaven and drown us with His blessings.

Isaiah 55:8 - For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.

And what about in our personal
lives and in our homes?
How many plans do we make without
even consulting the Lord?
We plan out our futures without prayer,
then wonder where the blessing is.
The Bible tells us to 'pray without ceasing'.
This doesn't mean that we bow our
heads in prayer ALL day long, 
but it is more an attitude of God-consciousness
that we carry with us throughout
the day and continually remember
to call on God to know His will
and ask for His help and guidance.

Someone put it like this:

For Christians, prayer should be like breathing.
You do not have to think to breathe
because the atmosphere exerts pressure
on your lungs and essentially forces you to breathe.
That is why it is more difficult
to hold your breath than it is to breathe.
Similarly, when we are born into the family of God,
we enter into a spiritual atmosphere
where God's presence and grace exert pressure,
or influence, on our lives.
Prayer is the normal response to that pressure.
As believers, we have all entered the
divine atmosphere to breathe the air of prayer.

Unfortunately, many believers hold
their “spiritual breath” for long periods,
thinking brief moments with God
are sufficient to allow them to survive.
But such restricting of their spiritual
intake is caused by sinful desires.
The fact is that every believer must be
continually in the presence of God,
constantly breathing in His truths,
to be fully functional”

There is so much to learn about prayer
and being more effectual in our prayers,
that I will never reach its depths,
but I'm excited to see what God has to teach me
and what blessings He will bring
when praying first
and planning afterwards
becomes second nature to me.

I've got a long way to go,
being a born organiser, and having the desire
built into me to see things done decently
and in order and all laid out and to be able to say,
“I've got this!”. But, oh the blessing that comes
when I yield my will over to God
and sincerely say, 'not my will, but thine'.
Not my plans, but yours, Lord.

So, it has now become my motto
when the new ventures loom ahead of me,
and the ministry opportunities arise
and the programs need to be run,
to say with all my heart,
“Lord, I pray for Your will to be done
and Your plans to be put in place.
I will pray first, Lord, then I'll plan afterwards”.