Waiting on God to answer prayers is one of the hardest places to be. It can feel like a wilderness, like the months and years are being wasted as we wait for God to answer.
My first prayers are big and bold, offered with great expectancy. If the answer doesn’t come right away, I’m okay. I can draw on my reservoir of patience, trusting that God will answer and His timing is best.
But as the weeks and months – and years — roll on and I’m still waiting, my prayers become less bold and less expectant. They’re even less consistent and sound more like questions.
Are you listening, God? Do you even see me and if so why aren’t you doing something? Do you even have this for me or should I let it go? Should I be doing more on my end? Is it too late?
Waiting on God to answer is always a test of our faith, not God’s faithfulness. Or His kindness.
The Bible shows us so many who had to wait on God long past their own timelines — like the prophet Habakkuk.
“How long, O LORD, will I call for help, And You will not hear?”
This was Habakkuk’s cry. He was in a hard place and he came to God with some hard questions. Judah, the country surrounding Jerusalem where Habakkuk lived, teemed with immorality, cult worship and injustice. Why wasn’t God doing something? Why was He waiting so long to intervene?
Habakkuk’s conversation with God gives us 6 truths when we’re waiting on God to answer prayer.
1. When waiting on God, bring hard questions to God rather than letting hard questions drive us from God.
When we lay our hard questions before God in trust, God may slowly peel back the layers of our understanding. We can surrender control, let go of burdens that aren’t ours to carry and exchange our worry for His peace.
Often, though, God doesn’t answer our questions. I wonder if we’d agree with Him if He did. In that gap where’s there’s no explanation, we have to simply trust. God hasn’t called us to understand; He’s called us to follow.
2. When waiting on God, realize God’s answer to our personal situation may hinge on a larger plan.
If our eyes could only pan out to see all that God is orchestrating, we might understand the wait. We’d probably even agree with it! Sometimes we have to wait for God to answer our prayers because our situation is only a small part of the larger work that God is doing.
3. When waiting on God, realize God is at work even when we cannot see Him.
Christian culture tosses around phrases like “God showed up” or “God is on the move.” But these aren’t Biblically accurate. God is always at work, even when we haven’t discerned it or can’t see it.
At the same time Habakkuk was questioning whether God was listening, God was moving on a worldwide level to address the very problems Habakkuk prayed about. God’s silence never indicates God’s inactivity.
4. When waiting on God, reaffirm Who God is so we can press through the wait.
The waiting room causes all kinds of doubt to surface. It’s one of the enemy’s favorite tools — to whisper doubts about God in our wildernesses of waiting.
But God often reveals himself in the wilderness. He did for Hagar and Abraham, Moses, Elijah and all of Israel. In our long wait, we need to reaffirm who God is and what He does and anchor our trust there.
5. When waiting on God, make sure we haven’t rejected His answer.
We so often pray with the answer we want in mind. We have our own agendas, our own plans for how we want life to go. When we pray not just for God to answer, but for Him to answer in a specific way, we’ve already limited Him.
But God doesn’t think the way we do nor does He work the way we do. Accepting the way God answers our prayer is as much a surrender as waiting for God to answer. We need to open both hands to receive whatever God gives us instead of keeping them closed until we see an answer that matches our wish list. Above all else, our life must conform to God’s will.
6. When waiting on God, trust that God’s timing is perfect.
Years ago, a young couple in our church small group was waiting for their house to sell. Until their house sold, she couldn’t put in her notice at work, they couldn’t make school plans for their kids and her mom couldn’t sell her house to move in with them. They waited all through the summer, well past their own timeline.
In a just-before-midnight moment, they got a contract. “God is never late!” the wife gushed as she shared the news with our small group. “True,” her husband piped in, “but He’s rarely early.”
God’s time frame is not our own. It’s never too late with God. The waiting isn’t wasted time. God will fulfill His promises at the perfect time.
“If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.” (Hab. 2:3)