Have you ever found yourself asking God where he is? Maybe you’ve prayed the same prayer over and over and start to wonder if God can actually hear you. I’ve had days where I’ve actually asked if God is listening. Or maybe there’s been times that you’ve felt like you heard God say something to you, but then it feels like God’s voice has gone silent and time passes by with nothing happening. You wonder if you actually heard God to begin with. I’ve been there as well.
In my life, I feel like I’m always waiting for something. Waiting for doctors, test dates, test results, next steps for treatments, and especially waiting for God to answer my prayers. Waiting on a good day is hard, but waiting patiently is one of the most difficult things to do because you just want answers right away. It’s hard to feel like parts of your life are on pause while other parts are spinning out of control. Waiting can take all of the strength and energy out of you.
Yet God’s word offers valuable reminders that mean a lot especially on days that you feel like you’re out of strength.
“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31).
That verse reminds us that God doesn’t want us to rely only on our own very limited strength, but God wants to be our strength for us. God’s strength never runs out but if we try relying only on our own strength, we will tire quickly.
The actions you take while waiting reflect the depth of your relationship with God during your journey. Sometimes people think waiting means you sit and do nothing, but waiting can allow for little steps as you walk with God along your journey. Little steps can consist of continued prayer, studying scripture, or just continuing to walk the journey while listening for the direction of the Holy Spirit. By continuing to take action, you develop a deeper trust in God resulting in a greater faith that God’s plans will be worth the wait. Every day is another day closer to discovering what God has in store for you next.
I’m learning first hand how hard it can be to wait on God’s timing. Sitting in hospital rooms with my daughter who continues going through cancer treatments after almost two years has given me a lot of time to think. During those times I’ve stopped and asked God what he’s doing, just like the psalmist’s cry, “How long O Lord?” It’s not because I doubt his ability to answer my prayers and make things better, it’s just that, like a normal human, I wish God’s timing was based on my desires. In moments when I feel like God has gone silent, I keep praying and asking because it takes more faith to keep asking for the same thing over and over, believing it’ll be answered. If God answered us right away every time, we would never learn how to wait on him. Even in the moments that it feels like he can’t hear you, God hears you and loves you.
When we’re waiting for a prayer to be answered, sometimes it's just not yet God’s time to answer, and sometimes God has something even better in mind than what we've asked for. The Bible tells us “But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake” (2 Peter 3:8-9). That verse is a reminder that God’s timing is perfect, although sometimes that might be hard to understand. It’s important to remember that there’s nothing that can be done to change God’s timing, so continue asking and trying to patiently wait on the Lord.
It’s hard not to get the answer you’re wanting and hoping for. Sometimes what we’re praying for might not line up with God’s plans for our best interest, so the answer we get is a no. Getting a no might turn out to be the best answer we could receive but until we see God's better plan, receiving a no is hard. The Apostle Paul describes pleading with God, “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:8-9). God shows us in this verse how important it is for us to keep asking and trusting that God will always be there for us regardless of his answer. A no could also force us to pursue God at a deeper level allowing God to reveal himself and his bigger plans to us. Sometimes what you feel is a no can also turn out to be a not yet.
I have days when I’ll admit that I honestly don’t know what to say to God, and we can pray with groans instead of words. Paul describes anguished prayers. “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God” (Romans 8:26-27). So sometimes I’ve prayed the same prayer so many times I just go quiet, not knowing what to pray; yet God knows the prayers and desires of my heart. “I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will never be shaken…Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him” (Psalms 62:1-2,5). It’s in those quiet moments that I realize my silence is just myself listening for God’s voice for answers, direction, or just renewed strength.
As I continue to wait for my prayers to be answered in God’s timing, I continue through my journey. In my waiting I will continue praying, hoping, believing, and trusting God’s timing to be perfect. “For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).
Rev. Deb Koster
Rev. Dr. Steven Koster
Rev. Deb Koster