A new friend of mine asked me a simple question in his comment on my final post in my Strategic Plan for Ministry series. His question was simple, but convicting! My friend, Loren Pinilis (see his blog here), asked me how prayer enters the process of this planning. While this seems like an innocent enough question, it actually is a very penetrating question!
I wish I could say that I had planned to address that separately or that I just assumed everyone knew that prayer was a continuous part of the process and therefore did not include it. Or I could be bold and say I was trying to draw someone in to ask that very question!
The problem is that none of these excuses are true. The simple truth is that I forgot! In a six-post series on being intentional about doing ministry in the course of doing business for the purpose of pointing people to God, I actually forgot to include anything about seeking God for guidance in the process! I left out the very One who knows all there is to know about ministry, business, and people. Are you kidding me?
Of course, now that I have done this, I have the perfect post material! How often do we do this exact thing? We plan, we strive, and we sweat the details of our efforts in every facet of our lives, but we often completely forget to seek His guidance ahead of time. Most often, we ask Him to bless our efforts once we have decided what we are going to do! This is insanity!
Why do we always seem to wait until we have run into an obstacle or crisis before we call out in prayer?
We are children of the Creator of the universe. He is all-knowing, all-present, and all-powerful. He wants to equip us “with all that is good to do His will” (Heb. 13:20-21). All we have to do is ask! There is nothing that exists that is not available to Him to use to accomplish His will (Psalm 24:1). So why do we so often forget (or refuse) to go to Him in advance? Why do we always seem to wait until we have run into an obstacle or crisis before we call out in prayer?
Role of Prayer
Whatever the answer, let’s take a look at how we should pray when preparing our strategic plan for ministry in and through our business.
As we discussed, the mission statement tells why we exist as a company. If this statement is to be used for direction, to make decisions, and to inspire us, it only makes sense that God should guide us in developing it. Our prayer should seek guidance from Him on our direction (Proverbs 3:5-6). Trying to do this on our own, without seeking Him in prayer, could lead to wasted time and failed plans.
The mission field is effectively our target audience. We need to pray for a couple of things here. First, we need to ask God to identify those groups of people He wants us to minister to. Second, we should be praying that He will give us the right words and actions for effective ministry to these people. Finally we should ask Him to prepare their hearts to hear what He will say to them through our words and actions. (Colossians 4:3-4)
As the Creator of everything we see (Colossians 1:16), don’t you think God is more creative than anyone else we know? As we go into our brainstorm session to gather ideas for ministry activities, we need to ask Him to expand our minds and spark our imagination so that we can come up with those ideas that will be the most effective in pointing others to Him.
Next, we need to pray for wisdom in choosing and prioritizing the best ideas from the brainstorm session. We also need to pray that God would lead us in laying out the action plans (Proverbs 16:9) and that He would grant success in these plans as well (Proverbs 16:3).
Finally, we come to measurement and accountability for our plans. Because we will reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7), I believe we need to ask God for more wisdom. We need wisdom in determining what to measure and how to establish good accountability. Because ministry results are so hard to measure, we need to be especially careful here. This another area that could cause us significant trouble if were to do it on our own.
What other roles do you see prayer playing in this process?
Is prayer a vital part of how you run your business?
Are you willing to follow His guidance when He gives it – regardless of the cost?