I think one of the most difficult areas for Christians to grasp is learning to wait on God. In our world of “instant everything”, waiting on God doesn’t fit into our culture and lifestyle. When we are waiting on God to answer our prayer our attitude is often, “Oh God, give me patience, hurry up, right now.”In some ways, I feel a great sense of inadequacy writing about waiting on God. Much of my Christian walk has exhibited a life of impatience. There have been times when waiting just wasn’t an option because I needed an answer or solution now. I now realize that most of the situations were not that urgent, it was my impatience that was being exposed.
But as I have grown older, and I hope a bit wiser, I am realizing the advantages of learning to wait on God. I think you will agree that instant gratification is not always the best thing for us. Listed below are 3 things I have learned about the importance of learning to wait on God.
1. Learning to wait on God causes us to reevaluate our prayer. How many times during the process of praying through a matter, have you changed how you’ve prayed? Often, my prayer at the beginning of the process was much different than the prayer when God answered. During my journey of praying and waiting the Holy Spirit refined my request and was able to give me the heart of God in the matter. By waiting on the Lord he had refined my prayer to line up with what he wanted to do. Prayer is not about thinking up something to pray, but prayer is getting to the point where we agree with God about what he wants to do in the matter.
2. Learning to wait allows us to realize God’s timing. One of the basic tenets of our faith is that God’s timing is always the best time. God has the ability to do multiple things just from one answered prayer. By waiting on his timing others could be eternally affected by an answered prayer at the right moment.
A great example of this principle is the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead. Lazarus’s sisters wanted Jesus to come immediately and pray for Lazarus so he wouldn’t die. It was an urgent need that meant death if he wasn’t healed.
But Jesus had a far reaching and even greater miracle in mind. By waiting Jesus did something even more sensational. He raised Lazarus from the dead. Lazarus had been dead and in the tomb for several days. The whole town knew Lazarus had died and many had observed and witnessed his burial. Now the town was buzzing about Lazarus being raised from the dead. Jesus had received greater glory because at just the right time his sister‘s prayer were answered. (John 11)
3. Learning to wait strengthens our faith. When doubting Thomas saw the nail prints in Jesus’ hands and the wound in his side, he quickly declared, “I believe.” But then Jesus responded with an important principle. Jesus said to Thomas, “Because you have seen me you have believed? Blessed are those did not see, yet believed.”(John 20:29)
Great faith is measured by believing God even though we see no physical evidence of answered prayer. It’s to believe that God will answer in his time and in his way. When we wait on God and he answers prayer our faith is strengthened and we can now believe him for greater things.
Waiting on God to answer a prayer or “come through for you” is sometimes very difficult. If we don’t have the right attitude toward “waiting” we create an atmosphere of doubt, fear and despair.
I am reminded of the story of Peter denying the Lord. After he had denied Jesus three times and the rooster crowed, Jesus looked over at Peter and looked into his eyes and into his heart. The scripture tells us that “Peter then wept bitterly.” That means that Peter was pierced to the heart with shame and conviction with one look into Jesus’ eyes. I don’t think it was a look of judgment, but it was a look of unconditional love. It was the love in Jesus’ eyes that brought brokenness and conviction to Peter.
I guess because of Peter’s story, I have this image in my mind that the moment I step into the portals of heaven the first thing I will see is the face of Jesus. I will look into his eyes and I will be overwhelmed with his love for me. A peace like I have never experienced will come over me and I will have the confidence that I am now finally home.
To me, learning to wait is taking the opportunity to spiritually look into his eyes, sense his overwhelming love, and then to have the assurance that he is working out all things for our good and his glory as we are learning to wait on Him.
“And we know that to them that love God all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to [his] purpose. For whom he foreknew, he also foreordained to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren; and whom he foreordained, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?” (Romans 8:28-31)