Waiting in an Impatient, Stressed-Filled World. Hindrances to Prayer, Part 3

"Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him." (Ps 37:7 NIV)

Have you ever had to wait for someone or something? You go to the store, for example, and you have to stand in the checkout stand. As you impatiently shift your weight from one foot to the other, you begin to wonder why it is that it takes more time to pay for your items than to find them on the shelves! Then the clerk picks up the phone and asks for a price check . . . Grrrrr!!!

What about waiting for your food at a local restaurant? After listening to the squawking of ducks in the back room for 45 minutes, you begin to wonder if you did the right thing by ordering roast duck.

And how about going to the mall to wait for your spouse at an indicated place and time? The line-up of impatient husbands can be heard muttering under their breaths: "Where IS she?" In my case, there is some kind of a cruel reversal of roles: it would be my wife waiting for me!

Is the Bible referring to this kind of waiting when it says, "wait patiently for Him"? And if it does, where can we obtain the necessary patience, if we cannot even tolerate waiting in a checkout line?

All too often, our prayers are not answered because we cannot seem to be able to wait on the Lord. Impatience ravages our souls, and before we know it, we take matters into our own hands, thus missing the opportunity to really experience God in our lives! When David says, "Wait for the LORD and keep his way" (Ps 37:34 NIV), he is encouraging us to NOT take matters into our own hands; but rather, to wait for God to respond! This kind of waiting requires faith: faith that God will really come through, and faith that our own impatience will only mess things up and cause us to miss a golden opportunity to experience our Heavenly Father.

God's Word indicates that He is quite displeased if we do not have the faith required for Him to answer our prayers: "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." (Heb 11:6 NIV); and "But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord." (James 1:6-7 NIV)

Imagine the following scenario: Your spouse asks you to go to the store for some onions that she won't need until evening. You promise to get them by the indicated time, and you proceed to finish your current project. Two hours later, as you are getting ready to go to the store for those onions, your spouse tells you: "Don't worry! I went and got them myself!"

Such news would disappoint you. It would make you feel like there had been a breach of trust. Especially if your spouse adds to this comment by saying: "I went, because I didn't think I could count on you to get them on time!" You feel like screaming out: "Why ask, if you don't trust me?" And you wonder in the gloomy mood that has suddenly invaded you.

God feels the same way. Why ask Him if we plan to do it our own way anyway? Why ask if we are not ready to wait patiently for His response? Why ask if we do not have faith? Even faith as small as a mustard seed can do miracles: "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." (Matt 17:20 NIV)

Prayer requires faith; faith requires patience; and patience requires waiting upon the Lord. This kind of waiting is not quite the same as waiting to check out at a grocery store. It is more like waiting for a special birthday gift that you know someone has purchased for you. Though you haven't seen the present, you anticipate it. The same is true for prayer. When you ask God for something, you can already anticipate that you have received it. His answer may not be what you expect, but no matter how He answers, you can be assured that in the long run, you will not be disappointed.

"I wait for you, O LORD; you will answer, O Lord my God." (Ps 38:15 NIV)

It is so sad that so many believers utter prayers in the morning and then forget all about their petitions. Some of these may not even notice the answer to their prayers when it actually arrives. Writing down prayer requests and answered prayers is helpful in noticing how faithful God really is. Some requests take time to be fulfilled and some will not seem to be fulfilled until eternity. But one thing we can be sure of: "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful." (Heb 10:23 NIV)

Waiting with anticipation can become exciting, especially when you put your trust in the One you are waiting upon!

"Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. (Ps 27:14 NIV)

Rob Chaffart

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