For the entrepreneur, possibility is greatly exaggerated. The question is not if one will get those two minutes with a successful gadzillionaire; it's what one will do with them -- particularly at the inevitable moment of the question, "What do you want from me?" When Steve Jobs cold-called Bill Hewlett out of the phone book, and Bill asked him that question, Jobs' answer was, "left over electronics parts." I don't know how much Jobs had thought about that answer, but one of the things that I have realized is part of my gifting is the weeks and months I spend beforehand preparing. For that is the moment where the entrepreneur is called out, and it quickly becomes obvious whether the entrepreneur is serious enough to warrant even those two minutes in conversation.
So I recognized that moment in Nehemiah chap. 2: "Then the king said to me, 'What would you request?'" Nehemiah had a quick answer: to rebuild Jerusalem! But then the king wanted details. On the spot, Nehemiah was able to rattle off:
- a "definite time" for project delivery (v. 6)
- travel permits needed (v. 7)
- resources needed for completion, broken down by sub-project (v. 8)
- extraneous security measures (v. 9)
Now, it could be that, after what appears to have been a quick, internal prayer, these things simply came to Nehemiah even as he was speaking them. Automatic mouth. I know that happens. It's happened to me -- I once wrote an entire sermon that way. But I sense here a kindred spirit who thought these things through as he spent days fasting and praying beforehand (1:4). Particularly since he displayed a fastidious devotion to executive administration later on. He was, after all, a career bureaucrat as well as an innovator.
So here I beg consideration for a wider understanding of fasting and prayer. Beyond reaffirming God's perfection and sovereignty, beyond the appeals and partial admission to the spiritual realm, there can also be a place for intense work sessions and planning -- complete with flowcharts, outlines, epic-generation, timelines, and spreadsheets. And I have to add here that the strongest relationships are formed in work partnerships. When rolling up one's sleeves to figure out the details of God's plan to change the world, there's nothing quite like having the Almighty alongside, doing likewise.