Life is full of times of waiting. Sometimes it can be fun - waiting in line for a midnight showing of a movie; waiting for Christmas; waiting to give a special gift to a special someone. Sometimes it can be full of anxious excitement - waiting to walk down the aisle to say "I Do"; waiting for the birth of a child. And sometimes waiting can be torturous, such as waiting for your husband's reaction when you tell him you wrecked his new Lexus (just an example, honey - the car is fine!).
But I think the most difficult wait is when we are waiting for God to answer our prayers when we are at the end of our rope and feel as though we can hold on no longer; when our prayers are nothing more than sighs and sobs. How can we continue to pray if we can't even put words to our despair? Does God even hear us any more?
Yes, He does!
We serve a God who is faithful to those who love him. If God hears even one of our prayers, he hears all of them. Like any good father, though, He will not grant all of our requests immediately. There are reasons we must wait, and not because God likes to watch us squirm. Even though at times no one can explain why, or for reasons we do not understand, the wait may be uncomfortable, but God has our own good in mind by not answering us right away.
So what are we to do during these long periods of waiting for our prayers to be answered?
- Be real. Be real before God. He knows your heart and what your thoughts are anyway (Psalm 139:2). It is when we come to God openly and honestly, admitting the depths of our weakness and helplessness, that we can experience the greatness of His compassion, the power of His strength, and the unending faithfulness of His promises.
- Persist in prayer. In the gospel of Luke there is a parable about a widow who persisted in appearing before a local judge, pleading for justice against her adversary. Jesus explains the parable in this way: "Don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly!"
- Remain in God. God wants us to bear fruit for Him. During our worst of times we may not see any evidence of fruitfulness. Do not mistake these times as being cut-off from God! In the wintertime even the healthiest of vines have appear dead. Remain in God through His word, fellowship with other Christians, by prayer, worship, and obedience. Believe in His promises. When the season of waiting is over you will see evidence that God has remained with you. You will see evidence of the fruit He intends for you to bear. And we can rejoice in His abundant grace!
O LORD, hear me as I pray;
pay attention to my groaning.
Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God,
for I pray to no one but you.
Listen to my voice in the morning, LORD.
Each morning I bring my requests to you
and wait expectantly.
Be persistent. Wait expectantly. God will answer.