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Planning in His Presence

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In Uncommon Life Daily Challenge, Tony Dungy says that one of the keys to life is self-control, discipline. He says we need to “discipline ourselves to do what we need to do so that at a later time we can do what we want to do.” This truth focuses on our core, our inner most being. The necessity for disciplines in our life that will insure that our core is strong and that it remains strong. Paul prayed for believers in Eph. 3:16, “I pray that He may grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power in the inner man through His Spirit.”

Prayer is one of the disciplines that is crucial to keep our spiritual core healthy and strong. When our prayer life begins to diminish then everything else begins to deteriorate. It requires discipline to dedicate oneself to prayer but our primary job is to listen to His voice. The exciting thing is that when we do our job, listening, then He promises to do His job, guiding and directing us. Prayer is the key to opening our lives to the power and purpose of the Holy Spirit. Planning is necessary in our lives and in our ministries.

First, realize that you become empty on the inside before it shows up on the outside. We have even learned to fake it, put on a mask, and appear to be spiritual when we are not walking closely with God. The truth is that your life will eventually catch up with your heart. Putting it very plainly, you will burn out sooner on the inside than you are able to see on the outside. Our prayer must be, “Holy Spirit, would you show me what You can do through me?” Remember, He is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think.

Second, the primary purpose of prayer is to get into God’s presence. You must desire and pursue prayerful planning because the plans of God are only revealed in His presence. You will be tempted to trust your instincts and hunches but the Holy Spirit’s direction is so much better. You want to figure it out and come up with a better idea on your own but even the smartest people in the world are not always right. You may think you will just work harder and longer than anybody else. A good work ethic is admirable but God’s power is better.

Third, believe in the power of prayer to accomplish great and mighty things for Him. It has been quoted often, “The Christian should work as if all depended upon him, and pray as if it all depended upon God.” You know you are not perfect but He is working to perfect you. You do not always know what to do but He knows how to direct you. You do not have the strength or stamina to do all that He has asked of you but He gives you the strength. In Draw the Circle, Mark Batterson says, “When you pray to God regularly, irregular things happen on a regular basis.”

What does prayerful planning look like? It begins by praying with a reason. Paul says, “For this reason I kneel,” and prays a specific prayer for the Ephesians to receive spiritual power. In Gen. 24, Abraham’s servant asked God to show him who would be Isaac’s wife. The Bible says in verse 15 that “before he had finished speaking there was Rebekah.” Jesus prayed specifically for His disciples in John 17 that they would be protected, have joy, be sanctified by truth, and live sent lives as He did. Be specific! What is your need right now?

Prayerful planning continues by praying with an attitude of humble intensity. Paul said he bowed on his knees. The normal Jewish prayer posture at that time was standing, with hands stretched out, and eyes looking heavenward. By kneeling he submitted, bowed, to the reality of his total dependence on God. The intensity is determined many times by the severity of the circumstances. Sometimes our prayer is a casual conversation with our heavenly Father but other times it is intense intercession. The leadership of the Holy Spirit determines the need!

Humble intensity means that we are not just fixated on getting an answer or victory over our circumstances but learning how to live, grow, and glorify Him in and through our circumstances. It is not only praying, “get me out,” but also asking God to “see us through.” Quoting Mark Batterson again, “The primary purpose of prayer is not to change our circumstances. The primary purpose is to change us!” As Jesus faced His greatest challenge, the cross, He prayed, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify You.”

Then we need to pray with a focus. In Eph. 3:14 Paul said, “For this reason I kneel before the Father.” The focus of prayer is not on what you are asking but whom you are asking. Prayer is more about our relationship with Him than Him meeting our needs. If we desire His direction and guidance we must press and lean into His presence. This is where He outlines His agenda for us and shows us what to think, how we should feel about it, and what we are supposed to be doing. It is being in His presence to allow Him to work in us so that we can become more like Christ.

Healthy churches are always asking, “What do we need to be praying for specifically right now?” They seek to plan their work and then work their plan but that is a plan that is bathed in prayer!

God’s plans are discovered, discerned, and defined in God’s presence!

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