No. 2: Pray Like It Depends on God
Once a vision is conceived in your spirit, you need to pray like it depends on God. If there is one key to dreams becoming reality it is prayer. Prayer isn’t just a dream incubator; it’s a dream sustainer.
About eight years ago the dream of building a coffeehouse where our church and community could cross paths was conceived in my spirit. That dream has since become a reality. In fact, Ebenezers was voted the No. 1 coffeehouse in the metro D.C. area by AOL City Guide in 2008. But for many years it was nothing more than a ridiculous prayer. We would do prayer walks around the piece of property we wanted to purchase. We laid hands on the old dilapidated building that was there. And we did prayer meetings with one objective: Lord, give us that piece of property.
Here’s what we discovered after praying for eight years: If you pray long enough and hard enough, God might just do something beyond your ability. I love what Jonathan says as a follow-up to wondering if God would act on behalf of the Israelites: “Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few” (1 Sam. 14:6, NIV). He knew that victory would not be a byproduct of his own ability. So are you dreaming God-size dreams or human-size dreams?
No. 3: Put Feet on Your Faith
You can’t just pray like it depends on God. You also have to work like it depends on you. Vision casting isn’t just about inspiration; it’s about perspiration.
It’s easy to overlook this element of Jonathan’s story. He had to be physically exhausted at the end of the day after climbing cliffs and fighting the Philistines. But there’s no greater feeling than giving everything you’ve got for a noble cause. I’m sure he slept well that night.
It’s easier to sit on the outskirts of Gibeah like Saul. Yet here’s the challenge to each of us: If you don’t do anything, nothing is going to happen. Profound, isn’t it? You need to take a step of faith.
When NCC was a young church plant, we prayed for a drummer. After months of praying I felt like the Lord impressed on me to go buy a drum set on faith. It seemed like a crazy idea. Our monthly income was $2,000. The school we were renting cost $1,600 per month. And a drum set would cost $400. If you do the math, you can figure out how much was left over for our salary! By faith I went out and bought that drum set. And our first drummer showed up that weekend. I’ll never forget it because it taught me a valuable lesson. If you want something to happen, you have to do something! You have to put feet on your faith.
No. 4: Get a Pulse
A beloved leadership guru once said—and I’m paraphrasing—“You may think you’re leading, but if no one is following, all you’re doing is taking a walk.” When I had the vision to go multisite with our church, I had to make sure I wasn’t crazy. I needed to take the pulse of our people. And one of the ways we do that at NCC is via surveys.
Before launching our first location, we asked our congregation: Would you be willing to be part of a launch team? Our prayer at the time was for 100 people to step up—that was our fleece. The survey revealed that 99 people were on board; I hadn’t filled out a survey, so we nailed it.
Taking the pulse of our people gave us confidence that the vision was from God. Likewise, Jonathan, in a sense, surveyed his armorbearer. He used him as a sounding board. You’ve got to find out if the people you’re called to lead are with you heart and soul. That’s not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of wisdom. And it gives people a sense of ownership.