I’ve written post after post after post about waiting on God.
Psalm 27:14 (NKJV) Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD!
You may be praying for something that hasn't happened yet. Maybe it’s for you, a friend, or family member to be healed of an illness, maybe it’s for a financial blessing, maybe it’s for a new job, maybe it’s for a spouse, whatever it is it hasn't happened and you are wondering if it will ever happen.
A couple of days ago I wrote and published “Persevere In Your Waiting” . In that post I wrote that waiting doesn't mean just sitting around and doing nothing but waiting on God is active as we exercise faith in Him. While we wait we should never forget that God is with us as we wait.
Deuteronomy 31:6 NLT So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”
We wait because believe that God loves us and that He keeps His promises .
Psalms 145:13 NLT For your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. You rule throughout all generations. The Lord always keeps his promises; he is gracious in all he does.
While we wait God may be working to put things in place for the perfect time. I’ve written that waiting teaches us patience which will end in perfection.
James 1:2-4 NLT Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
However when you've been praying and waiting for something for years and no answer there come times when your faith starts to falter. Yes know that God will either answer yes or no. You also know that He may still have you to wait. It’s at these times, and I’m going through one of those times now, that you have to rely on the Holy Spirit to encourage you to be patient.
Galatians 5:22-23 NLT But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
I’ve written that I we should persevere in prayer like the woman in Jesus’ parade about the widow and the judge.
Luke 18:1-8 NLT One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. “There was a judge in a certain city,” he said, “who neither feared God nor cared about people. A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!’” Then the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So 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! But when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?”
Or the man asking for bread so that he could feed a visiting friend.
Luke 11:5-13 NLT Then, teaching them more about prayer, he used this story: “Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him, ‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’ And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.’ But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence. “And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. “You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”
Jesus was persistent in prayer.
Matthew 26:36-44 NLT Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!” Then Jesus left them a second time and prayed, “My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done.” When he returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open. So he went to pray a third time, saying the same things again.
In a Bible Study last year I said that we should be not just persistent, but also specific in prayer (see Be Specific And Persistent In Prayer).
Be specific like blind Bartimaeus.
Luke 18:35-43 NLT As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind beggar was sitting beside the road. When he heard the noise of a crowd going past, he asked what was happening. They told him that Jesus the Nazarene was going by. So he began shouting, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” “Be quiet!” the people in front yelled at him. But he only shouted louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” When Jesus heard him, he stopped and ordered that the man be brought to him. As the man came near, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” “Lord,” he said, “I want to see!” And Jesus said, “All right, receive your sight! Your faith has healed you.” Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus, praising God. And all who saw it praised God, too.
When Jesus taught his followers to pray, he could have said to pray, “bless us” or “help us.” But he didn’t. He said,
Matthew 6:11 NKJV Give us this day our daily bread.
To his first followers, bread was central to life. It was a staple. A necessity. So Jesus said, “Pray for bread.”. That’s specific. When we get specific we get all the other clutter out so that we can spell out and spill out what it is we really want to ask.
But What If The Answer Never Comes?
Life.Church Pastor Craig Groeschel gives us something to think about from the YouVersion Bible Reading Plan Hope In The Dark from his book, Hope in the Dark: Believing God Is Good When Life Is Not.
I am one of those who would rather sink with faith than swim without it. —Stanley Baldwin, British Prime Minister, 1923–1937
What if you’re living by faith and yet you don’t see God’s promise to you fulfilled in your lifetime? Can you dare to believe he will still keep his promise, even if you don’t get to see it during your time on earth? Is it possible that you might grow so intimate with God that you’re able to keep loving and serving him despite your disappointment?
Psalms 73:26 NLT My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.
Habakkuk is a good teacher for us on this lesson, because it was not until the next generation that God kept his promise and punished the Babylonians.
That’s a long time to wait.
But the Lord was still faithful.
Habakkuk gives us three little words that we can cling to when it appears that God has not delivered on what he promised. No matter what you might be going through, never let go of these words.
If you want to be able to grow closer to God—no matter what—then these are the three words you need to remember on your journey toward intimacy and ultimate trust and faith in him:
“But the Lord . . .”
You’ll find these words in Habakkuk 2:20, where the prophet, after acknowledging that he still doesn’t like what’s going on, says, “But the Lord is in his holy Temple. Let all the earth be silent before him” (NLT, emphasis mine).
The world may seem upside down, but the Lord is still there.
When you have nowhere else to turn, when your own ideas and resources have evaporated, when your control over a situation is in shambles, God is still there. When your knees ache from kneeling in prayer but you can’t tell if he’s even listening, God is still there.
Ephesians 2:4-5 NLT But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)
Matthew 19:26 NLT Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.”
No matter what happens in your life, the Lord is in his holy temple.
Habakkuk 2:18-20 NLT “What good is an idol carved by man, or a cast image that deceives you? How foolish to trust in your own creation— a god that can’t even talk! What sorrow awaits you who say to wooden idols, ‘Wake up and save us!’ To speechless stone images you say, ‘Rise up and teach us!’ Can an idol tell you what to do? They may be overlaid with gold and silver, but they are lifeless inside. But the Lord is in his holy Temple. Let all the earth be silent before him.” (my addition)
Pray: God, will you allow me to experience your presence in new ways? Will you show me how close you are?
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Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.