If there is something that I think we as humans lack it is…
the ability to wait; wait in line for something, wait for food to cook, wait for food to be cool enough to eat;we cannot even wait in a single lane on the road, we weave in and out of lanes to get somewhere faster/sooner/ in less time.. I mean who hasn’t put ice into soup to cool it down after just moments ago being upset that it takes to long to heat it up? I’m guilty on that one (haha). Waiting just seems pointless, it seems like a drag, and it is one of the hardest skills to acquire, especially in the spiritual aspect.
Lately, I have been compelled to study prayer. To dive into what prayer really is, to ask questions such as; What is prayer? Why pray? When should we pray? What should I say when I pray? What shouldn’t I say when I pray? What does prayer do? What doesn’t prayer do? Are we supposed to hear a response? How do we look/seek a response? How do we deal with those prayers which do not seem to be answered? And MANY MANY more questions.
And boy oh boy has this been an interesting start to this journey. I began this journey because I do not feel as if I living up to my full potential in my prayer life, I actually found myself not wanting to pray because I did not “feel right” when I prayed, I did not feel God, I did not hear God and I did not get what I prayed for. And here I was/am as an individual who had never experienced this kind of doubt/frustration, and I was/am lost at sea with all these questions and confusion that drove me fall away in despair. I had followed God, I had lived a good life, I did my best to give the love of God and Christ, but I lacked a trial that shook my faith. I was in essence faithless because up until then I was “fine”, I felt the warm and comforting peace of God, I was “secure”, but when I was confronted with the reality that to live by faith is not to depend on who God IS but to step out in faith believing in who God WAS and says He WILL BE, I panicked.
*Please don’t misinterpret what I am saying. God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. What I am referring to is how I viewed God.*
So that brings me to my first understanding of prayer. Prayer is waiting. It is having faith in who He says He is even if I do not see Him, feel Him, hear Him, or what He is doing at the present moment. And that is a lesson that the first king of the people of God, Saul, had to learn the hard way.
In Chapter 10 of 1 Samuel, God instructs Samuel to tell Saul of his plans and a condition He had for Saul. Saul was the tallest and most handsome man of all the people and God had chosen him to lead His people, and He instructed Saul to go to Gilgal and wait for seven (7) days so that a sacrifice may be made for him.
In chapter 13 we find that Saul has in fact gone to Gilgal and it is the seventh (7th) day. Yet it seems as if the world is falling around him and the people he is leading are deserting him. The Philistines are near and are going to tear them apart, and in his desperation, on the seventh (7th) day he acts. On the seventh (7th) day Saul takes it upon himself to perform the sacrifice that Samuel was going to do, and right after he completes the sacrifice Samuel appears and instantly realizes the horrible act that has been committed.
It is not that Saul did not love God, it is not that Saul didn’t fear God, for Saul went to Gilgal and he waited as terror unraveled around him.Saul was dedicated and loved God and therefore waited, but on his own terms; he waited until his desperation took hold of him. And because of that foolishness, because of the desperate act God held back the confirmation of Saul’s reign, and even found “one who was after his own heart” to replace him.
The foolish and desperate action of Saul said to God, “I cannot wait any longer! I cannot wait on YOU, I cannot continue to trust, because every fiber in me screams for ME to take action!” The impulsiveness to take matters into his own hands was Saul’s way of say “God I know you said to wait and that YOU would act and would bless ME; but I cannot wait, I feel as if I have no other choice but to act on MY OWN accord and then bring a blessing upon myself.”
Even though Saul had the best intentions in mind, the salvation and protection of the people God had given for him to lead, the means by which he was going to accomplish that goal was not the best way. So what now? How does this apply to prayer? Take this account as a teaching point. Pray and try to seek the will of God, but wait in Him. If you have already received an instruction then hold fast to it, grab onto it with all that you can and then some. Prayer requires that we wait, that we have faith in Who He is and Who He said He Is and will be.
Give us strength God, grant s the grace necessary to wait on You. Allow our situations to be as James describes, to be “considered joy because it will produce endurance”. Just as a fighter trains for the ability to endure the long bouts through grueling acts of training, let us also look to those trials we face as mere moments of training. Let us not run with our foolish and crazed thoughts and feelings of despair, but wait in the peace of knowing that You alone are God. I pray and hope that this ministers to others as much and even more than it has to me; and that I may be able to write that which you need of me, in the way you need in order to grow and help others grow as well. Bless all those who are embarking on a similar journey and those who will embark on this journey alongside me. Continue to hold fast, continue to pray, continue to wait, friends.
May Grace and Peace abound.