Some think that living a godly life means relying on the Holy Spirit to the point where you make no plans at all - you are simply led by the Spirit to do whatever is next on the Spirit's agenda. But, as with all extreme positions, this runs contrary to the whole counself of Scripture and what God has to say about planning. Here we have a verse in Proverbs that promotes planning - but not from a fleshly standpoint - but rather from one that urges us to be wise and to consult with others as we make plans.
Planning can be a blessing or a curse. What is key in determining which you are going to experience is your attitude and desire in what you plan. The word "prepare" means to establish, set up something, to be firm, or to prepare. It has the idea of being steadfast in a direction or being founded. The idea here is that our lives are not to be flighty, but truly focused and set in a clear direction based upon Scripture. The word "plans" gives us even a more clear direction and understanding of the idea of planning here. The Hebrew word here is "mahashabah" which means a purpose, a thought or an intention. This gives us an interesting line of thought - which is this . . . God wants us to think. He wants us to think about our lives - to consider things - to take the time to reason biblically about the purpose for which we are doing things and the intent behind them. When you consider planning from this perspective it takes on a whole new mindset. Godly planning would involve prayer - consulting with God and with the Scriptures about the plans that are being made.
The last word that is used in the first part of this passage is "consultation." This is the Hebrew word "esah" which means to get advice, discernment from others, or to seek out the judgments of others. This means seeking out advice, counsel, and not just relying on how you think about a matter when making plans. Finding wise men and women who can help you grasp not only Scripture, but also good biblical sense is so important when making plans. But too often the one thing we forget when reading a passage like this is that we ned to consult with God in prayer. Without this important step, we will most likely make unwise plans.
The second half of this passage is interesting in that it tells us that we should "make war by wise guidance." When I read this I see two things that immediately impress themsevles on my mind. First is a physical reality - war in the physical realm. Adam Clarke made a marvelous comment on this when he said, "Most of the wars that are undertaken are wars of injustice, ambition, aggrandizement, and caprice, which can have had no previous good counsel." James 4 counsels us that the reason for the wars and conflicts among us are too often nothing more than a desire to get when we cannot get what we want through godly means. This is why a war should never be entered into without wise counsel.
The second meaning I see here has to do with spiritual warfare - its reality and its engagement. When we engage in doing God's will - even to the point of planning and setting a purpose in doing what God wants - we need to understand that we are going to face spiritual warfare. The evil one is not going to sit still when believers are planning an attack against his kingdom and his territory. That is why we need to make war - spiritual war - with wise guidance. Our enemy, the devil, is a wiley foe. He will oppose us openly as we preach the gospel, seek the salvation of the lost, and labor to see disciples of Jesus Christ raised up and eventually sent out to do additional damage to his interests. That is why we need wise consultation with God. We need to know we are doing His will, acting according to His Word, and are laboring and fighting by His Spirit. When we do this we are sure to prevail and to bring glory to God.
Planning is not an ungodly thing. Instead it is an opportunity to draw near to God - draw near to other wise saints who know Him - and to set our hearts and purposes according to His heart and purpose. Rather than be a trip into selfishness and self-driven goals and 5 year plans - it is to be a time to engage with God Himself and with His most precious people who seek His face. This can be even a time of reviving and realigning ourselves with Him - His purposes and plans - and even His power as we come into agreement with what He wants done and how He wants to accomplish it.