“Then the king said to me, “What do you request?” So, I prayed to the God of heaven. Then I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor with you, I ask that you send me to Judah, to the city of my ancestors’ graves, so that I may rebuild it.” The king said to me (the queen also was sitting beside him), “How long will you be gone, and when will you return?” So, it pleased the king to send me, and I set him a date”
(Nehemiah 2:4-6).

In Nehemiah chapter 2, King Artaxerxes grants Nehemiah permission to travel to Jerusalem to rebuild the city walls. Notice two things in the passage above:

  1. Nehemiah prays a prayer.
  2. Nehemiah puts forth a plan.

When we first meet Nehemiah in chapter 1:1, it is during the month of Chislev. When Nehemiah appears before King Artaxerxes in chapter 2:1, it is the month of Nisan… four months later. So, what is Nehemiah doing for four months? Nehemiah is praying and planning.

Nehemiah points us to an important truth about leadership: in addition to a season of prayer there must also be a season of preparation. God honors a plan, and in four months’ time Nehemiah prayerfully developed a plan. Great leaders are both “pray-ers” and planners. Great leaders seek God’s will and then do the necessary homework.

I remember attending a Long-Range Team meeting a few years back. We had an assortment of ideas, but nothing was coming together. As I walked out to the car, the chairperson of the team, a man who had built a multi-million-dollar business from the ground up asked me, “So, what’s your plan pastor? Where are you leading us?” I confessed, “I really don’t know.” He looked me in the eye and said, “You’re our leader and we’ll follow you, but you need to know where we’re going.” Those words were hard to hear, but I needed to hear them.

There is no substitute for the discipline of daily prayer and there is no substitute for a well thought out plan. So, tell me dear leader, how is your discipline of daily prayer and how are you coming with your God given plan?