The P.P.R.R APPRRoach to PPRRoblem-Solving

The PPRRoven 4-step PPRRocess to PPRRogress past your PPRRedicament today.

We can all agree that that we are facing one Pprroblem or another. Some people’s are gargantuan while others’ are miniscule. The P.P.R.R APPRRoach can be applied to all sizes. They can be learned by children and adults alike. They apply at home, at work, at school, at the store, on the playground – everywhere. Ready? Master-strategist, the prophet Nehemiah exemplifies them beautifully. Pprress in…

The four steps are:

  • Pray
  • Plan
  • Report
  • Request a specific solution.
  1. PRAY

You can be with someone, without really being with them. You and I have been on the dishing and receiving end of that deal. It’s a raw deal.

To pray is to be with God. To be with God means to hear him. It means to lean on him. It means to speak to him. It means to hear from him. It means to trust him. It means to love him – which means to obey him. If you are on a God-sized, God-given, God-driven mission, you have to be with God. You have to be with him, his way or it’s going to swallow you up and spit you out. Nehemiah fasted and prayed. You, believer, are called to do exactly that to tackle your pprroblem.

a. Praying isn’t only asking God for stuff. It’s aligning yourself with him. He’ll take care of the stuff.

Photo by Caleb Oquendo on

b. Don’t be lazy. Have you watched the kid that flings their backpack to mum when they get off the bus? Don’t be that kid. Carry your own backpack. Don’t expect others to pray for you if you’re not willing to do the hard work of praying for yourself. Yes, it’s easier to pick up the phone and ask your pastor or your ‘prayer warrior’ friend to pray. Carry your own backpack. YOU pray. (NB: I did not say do not ask others to pray for or with you.)

c. Discipline your brain to pray. Quiet distractions, then quiet your brain and be with God. Just you and him. No worship music, no sermon, no nothing! defines discipline as, “to bring to a state of obedience and order by training and control.” (Read Quit Wandering Chapter 10: Strategy #5 Discipline & Self-Control for more on that amazing subject.)


One of my favorite modern day theologians David Guzik says that faith is not a substitute for poor planning. Scripture is replete with admonitions to plan. Here are a few:

“The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, but those of everyone who is hasty surely to poverty.” Proverbs 21:5

Commit your works to Yahweh and your plans will be established. Proverbs 16:3

“May he grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your plans.” Psalms 20:4.

While Nehemiah was praying for 4 months, he was also making plans. That way when King Xerxes asked him what he wanted, he didn’t say, “Let me think on that and get back to you.” No. He immediately said he needed. See # 4 below for his well itemized list.

Friend, make a solid, practical reasonable plan to tackle your problem. If you’re trusting God, know that he will bring someone of influence to help you in your quest. Be well pprrepared for that divine encounter.


Don’t confuse endless recounting, commentary, and narration with effective reporting. When your benefactor asks what the problem is and what you want, distill your words. State your problem in one line. Practice that until you have it honed to a fine point. This also applies to conversing with God.

“And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.” Matthew 6:7.

Note how succintly Nehemiah reported his pprroblem:

“… the place of my fathers’ tombs, lies waste and its gates have been consumed by fire.” Nehemiah 2:3.

When the king asked, “What do you want?” Nehemiah’s words were like a flung arrow:

“… send me to Judah, to the city of my father’s tombs, that I may rebuild it.” Nehemaih 2:5.

Nehemiah didn’t go into the history and the archeology and the biology of the problem like we tend to do. We wring our hands and hash and rehash the issue. Let’s be done with that. “The effectual fervent prayers of a righteous man avail much.” James 5:16b. ‘Effectual fervent’ translates to one word in the greek energeo. It means to impact, to display work or activity. Avail is ischuo. It means to be strong and robust, muscular, to have power as shown by extraordinary deeds. Our empty counting and recounting is neither energeo nor ischuo. It is impotent. It is a machine that makes a lot of noise and smoke but doesn’t move.


We can get so used to reporting our problems in nauseating detail and never pay an iota of attention to coming up with a solution. Again, we can be mentally and spiritually lazy and expect mum to carry our backpack when we get off the bus. Imagine the amount of work Nehemiah had to do to come up with the solutions below. No wonder it took him four months. He must have filled notebooks and blown up his cellphone bill calling up to get quotes and consult experts. (They used to pay for each call back in the day and some months their bill was astronomical.)

When asked what he needed, Nehemiah was cocked and ready:

  • time – he’d calculated about how much time off he’d need to travel to and from as well as to attend to the problem of the broken-down wall.
  • authority/permission (this is implied. Later, Nehemiah’s opposition would threaten to report him to the king, assuming he was doing this behind the king’s back.”
  • letters for safe passage – he knew security was an issue during transportation and during the project. He requested a posse.
  • access to a personal connection (Asaph, keeper of the king’s forest)
  • supplies – timber (what type, how much, and the best source).

I am teaching this pprrogram to workplaces, elementary, middle, and high schools, colleges, youth groups, women’s and men’s ministries, non-profits, executive boards, etc.

This topic is #9 in “Quit Wandering: 15 Strategies to Find & Fulfill your God-Given Mission.” You can purchase it here as a workbook (for group or individual study) or as a reader version.

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Published by hannahtk

Hannah is a footloose Jesus-girl who enjoys family and friends, writing, painting, calligraphy, speaking and teaching, reading, cooking, gardening...

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