Prayer and Waiting
Waiting will always be a part of the Christian journey and so how we view it is important. Our culture encourages us to see it as a negative thing – a waste of time. Hence anything labelled ‘quick’, ‘instant’, ‘rapid’ or ‘fast’ is guaranteed to sell.
Because prayer is not a divine slot machine and is key to building our relationship with our wise Father, it will often involve waiting. There are good reasons for this:
- Often there is an appointed time or a right season for some event or action. ‘Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.’ (Habakkuk 2:3). When we wait we are trusting that God’s timing is best.
- God is preparing a bigger answer. Jesus received the message from Mary & Martha that Lazarus was sick but delayed his return to Bethany (John 11). The miracle that resulted was far greater than Lazarus’s healing – his resurrection pointed to the truth that Jesus is the resurrection and the life!
- There is a spiritual battle that requires our perseverance in prayer. In Daniel 10, as soon as Daniel prayed the answer was sent but the archangel Michael was delayed by the enemy for 21 days. During this time Daniel fasted. Michael says ‘Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.’
- Stories of the persistent widow (Luke 18) and the friend calling at midnight (Luke 11) point to the need for both boldness and perseverance in prayer. It is important to recognise that God is not like the unjust judge so we are not trying to ‘wear him down’ as if he were a reluctant giver!
- Sometimes we’re not ready for the answer. Many of us have had an experience of waiting for years for an answer to a particular prayer. Looking back we can sometimes see how we have grown in readiness for God’s action.