I’m getting ready to go on a women’s retreat, and not surprisingly, there’s a handful of details to tackle before leaving. Of course there’s packing (plus packing for a newborn this time around!), then there’s planning the timing of departure, and working out who’s watching the kids till dad gets home. Plus a variety of other moving parts, etc. etc. etc.
But if the point of the women’s retreat is to benefit from the time away, learn from the teachings, and invest in relationships, there’s a task that far outweighs any of those details. And I’m sure you know exactly what it is…preparation of the heart through prayer.
What a bummer it would be to miss out on the unique opportunities to learn, grow, invest, or serve, because internally I’m less than prepared. Of course, God can break through any lack of preparedness, but oh how we slow progress, when we rush into important things half distracted.
And so it is with many things in life. When we’re engaging in activities for the purpose of learning, growing, or serving (think: church, small groups, ministry opportunities, even times of fellowship with other Christians), we should arrive just as ready on the inside as we are on the outside.
Get Your Insides Ready
How much does it really matter if we’re dressed all cute, have a great hair style, or put “our face on”? Not that much. And yet, this aspect of getting ready is a no-brainer. What should really be the no-brainer task is talking to God about what’s to come.
If we want God to teach us, if we want him to use us, if we want his will accomplished, we should see prayer as the essential step #1. It is he that is going to accomplish any meaningful and lasting spiritual fruit.
And it goes without saying (though I’ll say it anyway), one of the most important reasons we pray up before we head out is the way it affects us. When we talk to God, we remember the types of things that are most important. We get in the right mindset; a more eternity-focused mindset. And we start looking around with different eyes — eyes more aware of what God wants to accomplish in and through us.
Put it this way: Prayer gets us primed and ready to make the most of each opportunity.
Powerful, But Simple
If you go to several purposeful activities each week, this “pray up before you head out” idea might sound impractical or even overwhelming! You might start picturing a handful of added prayer sessions every week. But the point is not how long you pray, just that you pray. Your words don’t need to be fancy or long-winded, just talk to God. Ask him to get your heart soft and your spirit ready for whatever he wants to teach you, or however he wants to use you.
This kind of prayer can happen in 30 seconds, or you may want a few minutes (or more). It can happen as you drive up to an event, or as you pray for it the night before. The details don’t so much matter. It’s just a matter or readying your heart by asking God to accomplish his will, and get you in line with it. Prayer is so simple—yet so powerful.
Let’s always pray up before we head out!