Prayer and the Scriptures are fundamental means God uses to direct the steps of Christ’s church—including each of us who belong to His body. As we make decisions for our individual lives, for our families, and for Christian ministry activities, the PDO process helps us to be still, draw near to God, and obey by moving forward to glorify Him. The PDO process has many variations, since it may be used by an individual, a couple, a family, or a larger group. The content that follows uses the example of an OCF leadership team seeking God’s direction for local ministries of outreach and service.
PRAY: Be Still Before God
The purpose of this phase is to help each participant, and the group, draw near to God.
You may wish to incorporate fasting into preparation for a PDO gathering, during the meeting, or both. A fast dedicated to the Lord may help participants focus on spiritual matters and unite the gathering as everyone seeks to glorify God.
As you gain experience in leading the PDO process, you will learn the amount of time you should set aside for prayer. As a starting point, you can allot 10 minutes each for the various phases of worship, thanksgiving, confession and repentance, and petition. That adds up to 40 minutes, so a starting rule of thumb is to plan for 45 minutes of prayer time.
- Worship may include singing and reading Scripture passages of praise as well as silent and vocal praise and adoration. For example, you can read and meditate on passages from Psalms 95-108 and use them to proclaim God’s mighty deeds.
- Thanksgiving gives participants room to express their gratefulness and joy for all that God has done. Ephesians 5:18-21, 1 Thessalonians 1:2; 5:18, and 1 Timothy 2:1 are examples of passages that reflect thanksgiving.
- Confession and Repentance allows everyone to examine their hearts silently and gives opportunity for public repentance. Psalm 51 and 1 John 1:5-10 are two of many Biblical passages that can be used for personal meditation during this time.
- Petition is the opportunity to pray for people, for the church, or for future activities of the ministry team and to petition God for the wisdom to make decisions. Pray for those who will come TDY/TAD to your area, those who will be assigned to your location, and for the ministry work of chaplains and the local churches.
DISCOVER: Discern Plans and Direction
The purpose of this phase is to discern a Spirit-led direction for your local OCF fellowship, working toward agreement as a body about the plans necessary to establish or sustain an OCF fellowship. Allow the various gifts, insights, and abilities of the body to inform the way ahead and expect this phase to take the largest amount of PDO time (new, large, or tough decisions in particular).
- Identify opportunities for Bible study, prayer, fellowship, outreach, and service.
- Receive input from all who are willing to provide insight. Guard yourself as the leader from steering the group to a conclusion you want others to reach. Listen, pray, and remain humble in the confidence that God will direct your steps.
- Narrow the focus from what are usually many good ideas. Ask God to use the PDO gathering to discern which good works ought to be done by your OCF group. Stop to periodically pray for wisdom and agreement, asking for help from everyone to decide priorities. Visit the question of why God has placed you where you are with the resources that He has provided for the good of the military community around you.
- Note the items that will require coordination with chaplains, local church leadership, or other groups.
- Develop a summary from you PDO process. Document goals, decisions, actions, dates, time, etc.
- Assign the person or persons responsible for tasks and duties. Establish an alternate person if needed.
- Consider developing a prayer support base of friends and family who are willing to pray for your efforts in making Christ’s gospel visible and heard within the military community. This group can pray for the success of your efforts and for your perseverance to finish the task.
OBEY: Doing God’s Will
The “obey” phase puts plans into action, encourages accountability, and helps develop perseverance.
- Distribute the PDO Summary to ensure everyone heard and agrees with what is documented. Get buy-in on the various objectives, tasks, roles, and plans.
- Host meetings/visits to update, remind, and report to one another. Stay accountable to one another to ensure everyone moves forward amid busy lives.
- Stay in prayer, dependent on God leading your steps. Ask Him for wisdom to both be still and to act.
- Evaluate when it is appropriate to look back and learn from the past. You can make this type of after-action work a part of your periodic PDO process.
OCF considers the use of our Pray-Discover-Obey process essential to every local OCF body. The PDO process emphasizes prayer first, planning second, and obedient action third. This model helps OCF members to be still before God, asking Him for wisdom and direction before future actions are planned out. We know it is easy for military leaders to come up with great plans, to develop ways to fulfill those plans, and only afterwards to stop and pray. Gathering for PDO on a regular basis can keep your OCF fellowship submitted to God’s directing means.
The PDO process is easily adaptable for you to pray and plan about unique one-time or recurring events such as picnics, luncheons, local conferences, times of prayer, or to start a new weekly Bible study. PDO lends itself to marriage or family decision making, to deployment preparation, and to professional decision making. It teaches us to submit all our plans to the review of our eternal Commander-in-Chief.
May God’s gracious work through PDO bring increased obedience in your life, revival to His church, and increasing unity as the Father brings sheep into the flock of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.