Planning Vs. Preparation

This thought comes from an insight my husband, Chris, had several years ago. In the course of his scripture studies, he noticed that God does not use the word “plan” as a verb.  Scripturally, the word, “plan,” is always a noun.

“Plan(s)” appears in the standard works (Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price) 34 times.  Notable uses of the word include the following:

The Plan of Redemption

The Plan of the Great Creator

The Plan of our God

The Great and Eternal Plan of Deliverance from Death

The Plan of Restoration

The Plan of Salvation

–and President Boyd K. Packer’s favorite—

The Great Plan of Happiness.

Other uses of the word, include (I won’t dignify the following with capitalization):

the cunning plan of the evil one, and

the secret plans of Gadianton.

On the other hand, the word “prepare” is found in scripture 270 times. So, what’s the difference between planning and preparing?

Let’s consider the following definitions:

PLAN—to arrange a method or scheme beforehand for any work, enterprise, or proceeding (, or, to devise or project the realization or achievement of  (

PREPARE—to put in proper condition or readiness (, or, to make ready beforehand for some purpose, or, to put in a proper state of mind (

Do you see the difference? It seems to me that planning assumes that we can control the various elements required to bring to pass our goals. Preparing, on the other hand, seems to focus on the single element we can control—ourselves. To me, planning also seems to indicate that we have a time-frame in mind. Preparing seems to minimize the time aspect.

Of course, I’m not suggesting that we never make plans. But when it comes to the life’s essentials, I believe our focus should be on preparation.

Quick example: I spoke with a young woman whose boyfriend, a returned missionary, was currently without his temple recommend and on Church probation. He had serious concerns about the last days, however, and was learning how to store and use black powder, in case he needed it for defense sometime in the future. You could say he was planning ahead but he wasn’t at all prepared. By the way, when the Wasatch Fault goes, it could swallow up our food storage in an earthquake. That doesn’t mean that part of our preparation should not include storing food. Of course, we should, it’s a directive from the prophets of God. BUT our safety is not in the food storage, it’s in our preparation through obedience to all of God’s commandments, so that we are worthy of the promises He has given the faithful, the prepared. That young man would have been wiser to attend to his return to full fellowship and getting temple worthy than messing with black powder.

Just a thought . . . .

  1. Lili says:

    A Facebook comment from KAREN JENSEN:

    In times of frustration I have often considered PLAN to be a “4 letter” word:)

  2. Wendy says:

    Thank you for sharing this profound insight!! It is so powerful! I especially like the distinction you draw on the control and timing issues. Elder Holland said in conference, “the only real control in life is self-control.” It feels so right to think that we can be diligent in our preparation and then have complete faith and hope that God can and will, in time, lead us toward “the ending of the book of our lives [that] will exceed our grandest expectations.” (Pres. Uchtdorf)

    It also reminded me of Pres. Benson’s quote: “Men and women who turn their lives over to God will discover that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He will deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, raise up friends, and pour out peace.”

    And last but not least, the forgotten beatitude: Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be bent out of shape:)

    (Please forgive my quote-laden post, but your post brought so many statements to mind that harmonize with this plan/prepare thought.)

  3. Lili says:

    A Facebook comment from TONYA LARSEN.

    “This reminds me of a great quote by Ezra Taft Benson – “It is better to prepare and prevent than to repair and repent”. (Alma 59:9)”

  4. Barry Swensen says:

    I read your book and really enjoyed it. I had never thought in that perspective. It gives me a new understanding of my own life and of the lives of others who just can’t seem to progress. I thank you.

    I find this particular post very interesting and have thought a little about just this thing over the years. You have the uncanny ability to put my thoughts into words.

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