Several days ago, I decided that I would sit down and write this column. As I always do, I asked the Holy Spirit to guide my thoughts and words. Since I’m working for the Lord, it only makes sense to let him provide the material.
After saying some prayers and scanning the Bible, I sat down and prepared to write. I opened a new document on my computer and waited for the words to flow. Twenty minutes later I was still staring at a blank screen. Once again, I prayed a sincere “Come, Holy Spirit” and waited. Still nothing.
I got up, walked around, ate lunch with my family, prayed some more and sat back down at the computer. After several unsuccessful attempts at beginning the article, I finally settled on a topic and it felt right. Without even appreciating the irony, I proceeded to type out the title: Learning to wait on God!
For some of us, waiting is a difficult process. It can range from mildly annoying (sitting in traffic or standing in line at the grocery store) to downright terrifying (waiting for the results of medical tests or a job interview).
Learning to wait is especially important when it comes to our relationship with God. It doesn’t take long to realize that he can’t be rushed. The Lord works according to his own schedule. Learning to accept that fact will spare us a great deal of aggravation.
Do you ever get impatient when you pray? If so, you have plenty of company. In the Book of Psalms, the phrase “How long, Lord?” can be found dozens of times. Although it seems wrong to pray in that manner, it can sometimes be indicative of a strong faith. In Psalm 13, for instance, David fully expects the Lord to respond to his cries for help. What appeared to be impatience was actually expectant faith.
Even though it may seem unachievable, it is possible to get to the point where waiting on the Lord isn’t that big of a deal. One of my favorite examples comes from the prophet Micah. Israel was in terrible shape! Things were so bad that Micah couldn’t find a single honest person. The entire society was overcome by sin and corruption. In spite of the darkness, however, the prophet was willing to wait for the Lord:
But as for me, I will look to the Lord, I will wait for God my savior; my God will hear me! (Micah 7:7)
He didn’t know when God would answer, but it really didn’t matter to Micah. Why? Because he knew that his prayer would be answered, when the time was right. In the meantime, he was going to keep on waiting and praying with his eyes expectantly focused on the Lord.
So, how do we get to the point where we have that kind of faith? Oddly enough, it begins by learning to be patient. I know it sounds like circular logic, but learning to trust God’s timing is a process and it can take time. Becoming patient requires patience! Fortunately, there is a methodical way to go about it.
The process of learning to wait patiently on God begins with acknowledging your weakness. As someone who tends to be impatient, I need to accept the fact that I can’t just grit my teeth and force myself to become patient. Trying to become patient by sheer willpower alone always results in failure.
Having said that, here’s the good news you’ve been waiting for. According to St. Paul (Galatians 5:22-23), patience is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, you already have what you need. It’s just a matter of activating the power.
Through baptism and confirmation we possess the full power of the Holy Spirit, but we need to give him permission to work in us. Every day, make it a point to ask the Spirit to make you more patient and then (this is the tough part) thank him for responding.
Even though you may not feel any different, you can be confident that your prayer will be heard and answered. Over time, you will find yourself praying more and more like the prophet Micah.
As I type these final words, there is a big smile on my face. When I first started this article, I didn’t realize I would be writing about learning to wait on God. I also had no idea that he would make we wait so long for the material.
The process reminded me of just how much I need him, which is an important lesson to learn. I also learned something else that is very easy to forget — God has a great sense of humor.
Gary Zimak is a best-selling author, speaker and radio host based in South Jersey. Connect with him online at FollowingTheTruth.com.
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