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Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Waiting Room

“How gracious he will be when you cry for help!
As soon as he hears, he will answer you.
Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity
and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more;
with your own eyes you will see them.
Whether you turn to the right or to the left,
your ears will hear a voice behind you saying,
“This is the way, walk in it.”
Isaiah 30:19-21 NIV

Have you ever sat in a doctor’s office and waited? Have you ever sat in a hospital emergency room and waited? Have you ever called someone on the phone and they ask you to wait while they finish a previous call? Have you ever had to wait in a customer service line? Have you ever waited for food in a restaurant and thought that it would never arrive? Have you ever had to sit in traffic and wait for the road to open up so that you could continue on to your destination? Waiting is nerve wracking and it tries our impatience to the limit! We tap our foot, we watch the clock, we crane our necks, and then we take aspirin and antacids to ease our physical discomfort that is caused from the stress of waiting. Sometimes we even fall asleep waiting for our need to be met.

My question today is how in the world could God ever consider that waiting is good for us? Doesn’t he know that it makes people crabby, gives us headaches, sets our nerves on edge, tightens our muscles, and makes us feel unimportant? Waiting flips on our anger switch, makes us roll our eyes and gesture, and allows things to come out of our mouth that are less than godly? The fact is we pray and most of the time God says, “Wait.”

To me it seems like a contradiction that God would say that he will be gracious to us when we cry for help and that as soon as he hears, he will answer us. The truth is that God is gracious to us when we call. He hears our prayer immediately and even before we finish praying the answer is released in heaven. The answer may be "yes" right away! Or "no"... not in this lifetime, or it could be "wait" because all things are not ready.

I understand the yes and the no answers but I really don’t get the waiting. What things must be made ready? How can I make sure that I am ready for God’s answer? One way I can get ready is to make sure my will is aligned to God’s will.  I must also have an attitude that is willing to accept God's will for my life even if it is not what I had hoped for.

How I wait for God’s answer is also important. Do I wait peacefully or do I wait impatiently? God's Word says that my heart must trust and not doubt. My obedience is also important. Has God asked something of me that I am ignoring? If God says go, I must go. If God says stay put, I must stay put. If God says give, I must give. If God says pray, I must pray. If God says take a risk and trust me, I must be a risk taker. If God asks me to do something out of my comfort zone, I must obey.

The answer to my prayer may also be waiting for me at the end of my obedience.  I pray and while I am praying God releases his answer to my prayer. If I procrastinate or refuse to be obedient the longer it will take for me to receive God’s answer. Sometimes I wonder how many blessings I have missed simply because I neglected to obey.

It is quite possible that there are answers to my prayers that are setting on God’s heavenly shelves with my name on them. So what is the delay? Maybe it is my lack of obedience or my doubt that is holding things up.

We are to ask and then believe. We are to listen and then obey. Obedience requires listening for the silent gentle whisper of God and then acting upon what we have heard. If I am concerned that my prayer is not being answered in a timely manner, then perhaps I need to spend some time with God allowing him to speak to me through my thoughts, through his Word, or through new desires that he places within my heart.

Often God gives us a desire to minister or to serve. Sometimes there is a place that he is nudging us to go or a nagging thought to contact someone. When God puts people and opportunity in our path but we refuse to connect with that person or investigate the new opportunity we may be missing out. Yes, God is more than able to immediately drop what we pray for in our lap and sometimes he does, but most of the time he wants something in return for our asking. He wants to know that we love him enough to go out on a limb and trust him. Waiting on God provides the perfect opportunity for us to trust God. Go ahead, ask God for what you desire and then ask him what he would have you do next.

It is important to consider the fact that sometimes all things are NOT ready, especially if it involves another person. Each heart involved must be positioned for God’s answer. Often one person is ready but the other person is not ready. Events must take place, people's paths must cross, and opportunities must become available before God can deliver the answer. But make no mistake; all of our prayers are God's work in  progress! Each prayer has been received in heaven and God is processing each and every one of our prayers while we wait. So we wait with a smile on our face. We wait in quiet confidence and trust.

Even though I know that God goes before me sometimes I find myself in the waiting room of adversity and affliction as I wait. But God's Word tells me that I must stay alert because God may send me a teacher that will open my eyes, or God may whisper from his Word assurance and direction, but for sure God’s Word says that in due time, whether I turn to the right or to the left, my ears will hear a voice behind me saying, this is the way walk in it. The only thing that remains is my trust while I wait.


1. Are you waiting on God for direction or for an answer to prayer?
2. As far as you know, have you been obedient to all that God has asked of you?
3. Do you regularly ask God for his wisdom and direction in your life?
4. Are you just asking and listening for the voice behind you?
5. If you are still in a waiting pattern with no direction from God do you find that you are waiting in peace or waiting impatiently?
6. Have you considered the possibility that God’s answer is contingent upon the obedience of another person, or perhaps the availability of a location, or for a door of opportunity to open?


Dear God,

I thank you that you are real and personal. I know without doubt that you hear my prayers. I do realize that some prayers cannot be answered quickly because they depend upon another person’s obedience.  I know that you do not force obedience on anyone and so I must wait in quietness and trust. Father, this week I want to consider the very real possibility that I may lack obedience regarding ___________. I have heard your voice from behind me saying this is the way walk in it, but I am fearful and I now see that I lack trust. I confess that I am afraid that you may ask something of me that I do not want to do, or you may have someone for me that I do not want, you may ask me to go somewhere I do not want to go, or you may have an opportunity that I think is too hard. I worry that I will not be up to the task of doing what you ask and so I continue to sit back in my “not so easy” chair and fret over unanswered prayer. God forgive me. Holy Spirit, please come to my aid and give me your confidence, your power, and your strength so that I will be able to step out in unconditional faith and simply trust you. I know that real trust never knows the future, real trust does not have all the pieces to the puzzle, and real trust does not demand all the answers ahead of time. Help me God to reach down deep within my spirit and choose to pick up trust and joyfully be obedient as I wait expectantly  for your perfect answer. I thank you that your perfect answer is on the way.

In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.