Pray and Be Practical, but Pray First!

“These are… those who went up with me from Babylonia…  I gathered them to the river, and there we camped three days. As I reviewed the people and the priests, I found there none of the sons of Levi. Then I sent for leading men of insight, and sent them to Iddo, telling them… to send us ministers for the house of our God.  And by the good hand of our God on us, they brought us a man of discretion…  Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our goods. We had told the king, ‘The hand of our God is for good on all who seek him.’ We fasted and implored our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty.

“Then I set apart twelve of the leading priests. And I weighed out to them the silver and the gold and the vessels… And I said, ‘You are holy to the Lord, and the vessels are holy, and the silver and the gold are a freewill offering to the Lord. Guard them and keep them until you weigh them at Jerusalem, within the house of the Lord.’ So [they] took over the silver and the gold and the vessels. Then we departed from the river Ahava on the twelfth day of the first month, to go to Jerusalem. The hand of our God was on us, and he delivered us from the hand of the enemy and from ambushes by the way… The returned exiles who had come from captivity offered burnt offerings to the God of Israel.” Ezra 8:1,15-18,21-25,28-31,35

Making preparations for any event or task involves many details, but in order to have success that honors God, there should be a prescribed order: first things must come first. Prayer is always the way to begin.

Empty canoes lined up at lake, ready to go, Canadian rockies

Entrusting every detail to the Lord gives clear perspective for planning. Ezra knew how to organize the people and divide their treasure after looking to God. (Psalm 32:8; 1 Corinthians 2:16)

Praying first focuses us on the supernatural, saturates our minds in the eternal, and fixes our trust in His Spirit’s strength. (Zechariah 4:6; Colossians 3:1-2)

Praying first assures that God receives the glory, not us, because He is our Guard, He is in charge, and His are all results. We look expectantly for specific answers to our requests, and can trace His hand in every detail. Our response is a natural offering of thanks and praise, what we were made to do. (Psalm 139:5; Isaiah 49:3)

When my tendency is to jump in and ‘do,’ to line up my necessities, tick off my checklist, map my destination and GO, would I first pause and pray that my doing would be God’s doing? That He guide my planning and bless the efforts I exert for His glory? Do I fly out the door only partially dressed, or fit on His armor for the battles and journey ahead? (Ephesians 6:11-18)

Lord God, only You know all that is needed and lies ahead, every facet of my assignments. Keep me seeking You first, always, to know Your ways and trust You in every detail. May I exalt You from beginning to end in every endeavor.

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