Maybe it’s our society, but I find myself becoming increasingly impatient with waiting. I give the Internet about 1.25 seconds before I start hitting buttons to try and get it to respond.
When checking out at the grocery store, I mentally assess the efficiency of the clerks before choosing a line. And if they flip on their flashing light for a manager’s help, I start line-shopping.
I know I should probably use those times for ministry, but I’m just being honest when I say waiting makes me want to jump out of my skin. I’d much rather be doing something.
But when I’m waiting for God to answer my prayers, impatient is the LAST thing I want to be. God cannot be rushed. And I’ve learned trying to take matters into my own hands doesn’t get me what I really want. God’s best is always worth waiting for.
So I’ve had to learn to settle my heart and mind when it comes to waiting on God to answer my prayers. And to realize that waiting can be productive. There are things God wants ME to do, while HE does what He wants to do.
We demonstrate our expectation of God by our preparation. As you consider your own times of waiting, here are 5 things you can be “doing” to get ready.
1) Remember God’s faithfulness. A friend once told me, “Don’t doubt in the dark what you know to be true in the light.” But isn’t it easy to forget how faithful God is when life seems dark and God seems silent? Over and over in the Old Testament, the children of Israel were told to “remember” God’s faithfulness as they waited. God knew those memories of the past would bring truth into the present.
We all have sketchy memories if we aren’t intentional to remember. My best memories are of the experiences I took care to record while they were happening – whether with a photo or a note in my journal.
What can you do to remember God’s faithfulness to you in the past? How can you remind yourself of God’s care and protection? Go back and remember, and realize God is just as faithful today.
2) Guard your internal and external words. It’s so easy to complain while we are waiting on God. And the children of Israel discovered how serious God is about our griping.
After being freed from slavery, God led the Israelites on a journey to the Promised Land. They didn’t know exactly where they were going, and conditions were hard. Even though God told them He was taking them to an amazing place, the people grumbled and complained about the conditions on the way Their ungrateful hearts overflowed to their mouths – and God noticed. Here’s what He said to Moses and Aaron:
Numbers 14:27,“How long will this wicked community grumble against me? I have heard the complaints of these grumbling Israelites.”
The fussers got much more than a slap on the hand from God. Their consequences were devastating. Here’s God’s response: “In this wilderness your bodies will fall—every one of you twenty years old or more who was counted in the census and who has grumbled against me. Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun.”
While we are waiting for God to answer our prayers, we must keep from complaining. And not only with our spoken words, but with our thoughts. God can read them, you know.
The antidote to complaining is gratitude. So I must cultivate gratitude while I wait, and capture every thought, making it obedient to Christ.
3) Welcome the Refining of Your Character. Every time I’ve waited for God to answer prayer, part of the process has included God changing something in my character. For those of us who have chosen to follow Jesus, our goal is to become more like Him. So it makes sense God would use every opportunity to make us more like Christ.
But that doesn’t have to happen. We can dig our heels in and become bitter, resentful, critical or judgmental. Or we can welcome the refining and ask “God, what do You want to change in me?”
It doesn’t guarantee God will shorten the wait if we change, but at least He won’t have to wait longer because of me.
4) Worship. When we worship God, we are reminded of His power, glory and majesty. Worship allows us to see how small our problems are in comparison to how big God really is. Worship establishes the rightful hierarchy of power in our lives – God on the throne and us at His service.
Worship also prepares us for battle, which we often face when waiting for God to answer our prayers. Not only do we face physical enemies, like unjust people and physical diseases, but we face emotional enemies of discouragement and despair.
In 2 Chronicles 20, we read of the children of Israel going in to battle, led by a praise and worship band. The men were instructed to sing: “Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.” When they arrived at the battle site, they discovered God had already defeated the enemy. (2 Chronicles 20:21-23).
Worship isn’t always easy, but it’s an important part of our lives as Christians, and it helps get us ready for whatever is coming next.
5) Keep loving and serving others. During the most difficult waits in my life, I want to put my life on hold. The unknown paralyzes me. But no matter what the future holds, I still have today. And today I can love and serve others.
Turning my focus to the needs of others, helps me remember God’s faithfulness to me and helps me cultivate gratitude. Two of the other habits of healthy waiting.
I’ve only scratched the surface of how to wait on God’s timing. But I hope this has helped you in some way as you face your own wait.
I’m so glad you joined me today. It’s hard waiting for God to answer our prayers, especially when we are waiting on Him to heal, restore and rescue. It’s good to know there are some things we can do to prepare ourselves while we wait.
In His love,