“Therefore, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me.”Micah 7:7 NKJV
We know this and yet we impatiently struggle with waiting. We question God’s timing when we pray. We want God to answer right away on our behalf and we are disappointed when He does not. Such was the difficult situation I faced while praying more than 40 years for my husband’s salvation. During the course of so many years of praying I learned much about waiting on God’s answers.
The Worth of the Wait
I learned that God wants us to trust Him by praying in faith, believing that every promise He made becomes a miracle by faith. “Without faith it’s impossible to please God.” (James 1:6 and 11:6) NKJV) Praying with confidence pleases God, but our prayers must be answered according to His will. “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” (1 John 5:14 NKJV). God’s timing and response is according to His will, His purpose and His timing. He is not on our time schedule, so we are to rest in His divine providence. He is able and He cares about what concerns us. Delayed prayers are not always denied prayers.
I learned that our prayers can go unanswered because we regard sin in our hearts. There are numerous scriptures that reference this truth and many times I had to go to God, seeking His forgiveness. One of the most well known and most quoted scriptures in scripture is, (1 John 1:9) “If we confess our sin’s, He is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Making sure our hearts are in right standing with God is crucial when waiting for God to hear and answer our prayers. That meant I had to be willing to admit my own indiscretions such as pride, resentment, and self-will; “If I regard sin in my heart the Lord will not hear me.” (Psalm 66:18, NKJV)
I learned these things about waiting on God and so much more and yet my heart was filled with despair and unrest at a time when I should have been walking by faith. I had been waiting and praying for about 30 years when I went to God with questions that were more like complaining. My prayer was filled with passionate expressions of grief and sorrow and my eyes were filled with tears. I learned later that such are prayers filled with lament.
I asked God WHY He did not save my husband and HOW much longer must I wait for my prayers to be answered? WHEN would He move on my husband’s heart to save him? I questioned how much longer I must wait for Him to answer my prayers. These questions of WHEN, WHY and HOW LONG, threatened to overwhelm me. My life circumstances seemed so hard and so unfair, especially since I had no control over them. That is when God sent me to His word, again, and this time He gave me a message from Habakkuk.
How Long Do I Have to Wait?
Habakkuk was God’s prophet and a man of faith but like myself he also asked God the same questions that I was asking. We both lamented to God concerning waiting for prayers to be answered and why God allows such injustice: (I saw my marriage of being unequally yoked for so long as injustice.) My eyes were glued to particular verses in Habakkuk, beginning with; “How long will I call for help and you will not hear. I cry out to you but you do not save.” (vs. 1:2 NKJV) Then I read, “Be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days which you would not believe, though it were told you. (vs. 1:5)
God had captured my undivided attention. Filled with hope and encouragement I continued reading. “I will stand my watch and set myself on the rampart, and watch to see what He will say to me, and what I will answer when corrected.” (2:1)” Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, (For me this was my book) that he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; For it will surely come, it will not tarry. Behold the proud, his soul is not upright in him but the just shall live by his faith.” (2:1-4) Finally, I read all three chapters, to be certain that I understood clearly what God was speaking to my heart and what I was to learn about waiting on Him to answer my prayers.
The Lord taught me through Habakkuk, that although the circumstances of our lives may sometimes appear to contradict His revelation concerning His purposes, His will and His timing, He is not on our time schedule; And no matter how dire the situation looks, be it health, finances, prodigals, ministry, reckless behavior, suffering or even death, He has a storehouse of grace fit for every circumstance and it is sufficient. His mercy and His goodness will see us through the most challenging circumstances as we learn to wait. He is able and He is faithful. He knows us and He is intimately acquainted with His children.
I learned that God could bring His power, His grace, His goodness, His wisdom and His justice to bear in any situation; ‘The lord longs to be gracious to you… For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for Him.” (Psalm 27:14 NKJV) “I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait, and in His word I do hope.” (Psalm 130: 5 NKJV) I would never have come to know intimacy with God had I not spent so much time in prayer for my husband. I reaped the benefits of intimacy as a result of pursuing God for strength to wait and to endure what I was powerless to fix or change. He taught me that more than anything else, He wants an intimate love relationship with all His children and that He loves us unconditionally.
Prayer is a Gift
Prayer is such a wonderful gift given to us by our Heavenly Father. He wants His children to make prayer a priority as we wait for Him to answer. When we make prayer a priority in our personal lives and in our churches, we draw closer to God and we consciously develop a yearning to know and trust Him more. He invites us to come boldly to His throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16 NKJV). At His throne, our vision of His character, (who He is) is enlarged and takes precedence over His power, (what He does). We come to understand that seeking God’s face in worship, in spite of waiting for Him to move on our behalf, draws us near to Him, because He inhabits praise. He looks for and embraces worshippers who will worship Him in Spirit and in truth. (John 4:23, 24 NIV) No matter the struggle the face while we are waiting on God, we must come to grips with His worth and that He is deserving of our praise. I believe God is touched by our willingness to seek Him in worship even when we are hurting, when we are troubled, when we are struggling and when we are waiting.
Habakkuk’s joy was made complete because he determined to place his faith in the Sovereign Lord and wait for Him to answer his prayer. We must determine to do the same. God answered my prayer by saving my husband and allowed Him to know God’s peace as a believer for two weeks before he went home to be with Jesus. Our circumstances may differ from Habakkuk’s, but we feel the passion of his questions as we too cry out to God asking when, why and how long. May God give us the ability to stand in faith and know without a doubt that He is there as we wait on Him and He is the source of our faith. As a result, God will cause His children to rejoice as our faith is lifted to walk on higher heights. There is an old song with words I will conclude with. It speaks volumes when we are learning to wait on God. It’s entitled, “You Can’t Hurry God”.
You Can’t Hurry God
You can’t hurry God; You just have to wait
You have to trust Him and give Him time; no matter how long it takes
He’s a God that you can’t hurry; He’ll be there, you don’t have to worry
He may not come when you want Him; But He’s right on time.
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