I have been preaching the book of Nehemiah, and it has been very insightful for me personally. Nehemiah finds out about the challenges in Jerusalem and prays for months. Then he gets to talk to the king about it. It seems like a fortuitous conversation, until you realize that Nehemiah knows the supplies he needs, the permissions that he needs, and even how long rebuilding the wall should take. He has not just been praying. He has been planning.
This is a major theme in Nehemiah. He prays and prepares. He prays and plans. He asks God to help and then takes action. He trusts God to work it out and then works on it. He is the same way with the people he is leading. God will build our walls, and here is your shovel. God will protect us, so grab your swords.
There are people who are just pray-ers. They wait on God for everything. They pray and expect God to give them a new job or a better life. There are other people who are preparers and planners. They make plans and to do lists. They do vision statements. They make life happen with their own grit and effort. The problem with both extremes is the lack of the other side, but Nehemiah teaches us the importance of both together.
You can’t be a person that prays but never takes action. Sometimes God’s answer to your prayers is you. Sometimes God makes you stronger for what he is calling you to ado. You also can’t try to make changes or accomplish great things on your own strength.
This is a tough thing to balance, but we have to have both. We need to pray and prepare. We need to wait and to plan.
Finding the balance is very beneficial for us. Part of the importance of planning is that you can then change the plan with opportunities or challenges arise. But to react, you have to hold your plans loosely. Prayer helps us take notice of these things that are going on beyond our plans, so that we do hold our plans loosely. At the same time, our planning helps our prayer by getting us to actively seek an answer. We are expecting God to answer. Planning makes our prayers hopeful instead of desperate.
Where are your praying without planning in your life? Where are you planning without praying? How can you find that balance?