Read Nehemiah 4:8-9
8 They all made plans to come and fight against Jerusalem and throw us into confusion. 9 But we prayed to our God and guarded the city day and night to protect ourselves. (NLT)
It is a mistake to see prayer and planning as opposing activities. Nehemiah was trying to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. He knew that was humanly beyond him so he prayed. He sought God’s help. In doing so he recognised his utter dependence on God. He was not going ahead on mere human impulse or using mere human strategies.
And yet, he did act, he did adopt strategies. The context of this passage describes how he organised the labour, how he arranged for defensive tactics against possible attack. He did things, he got busy, he used his head, he organised. All, however, was as a result of prayerfully committing his work to God.
It is a good model to adopt. We pray, we plan, we act. We don’t simply retreat into pious passivity and hope God will do our work for us. We don’t kiss our brains goodbye. Nor do we rush frantically into action, or believe all hinges on our energy or cleverness.
Prayer is not a retreat from activity but the context within which we become active. Prayer is not a substitute for planning but an aid to ensuring our planning is done in alignment with the mind and heart of God. When faced with a crisis, prayer may well be the first thing we do, but it will not usually be the only thing we do.