Bearing the Wait: Thoughts on Persevering in Prayer

Have you ever wanted an answer from God right away? Or maybe there is something you struggle with that you believe God wants to help you with, but nothing seems to change? Or maybe you believe God will work in some other way in your life, and there is some promise He is going to fulfill, but is taking a long time?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are in good company. In Scripture we hear stories of different people waiting on God to answer prayer, save them from difficulties, and deliver on promises He made to them. For instance, in the Book of Exodus, the Israelites called out to God for centuries while they were enslaved by the Egyptians. Until the return of Moses after he ran away into the desert, it seemed like God had not been listening to their cries for help.

God eventually answers their prayer in His good timing, releasing them from their struggle. This is similar to the long wait the Jewish people suffered through as they were under the control of the Roman Empire, believing God would soon send them the Messiah, or Anointed One, promised to them in 2 Samuel 7. Many young Hebrew women prayed they might be the mother of this great and holy savior, but no one knew when God would fulfill this promise.

I also have experienced these periods of waiting. Several times in my life I have taken big life decisions to the Lord seeking His direction, and it seemed like He had better things to do. It was not as difficult as the periods of waiting the Jewish people endured, but I have also had to wait almost a whole year until the Lord led me to something He had promised me in prayer.

After praying a novena, I discovered who I was supposed to marry. I received the promise, and expected the delivery to be immediate. Thus, it was quite painful to experience the repeated loss of not becoming more than a just friend. I would endure, however, and patiently waited (more or less) until she made the first move to let me know that she was interested.

All these stories show us it is completely normal to be told to wait by God. He seems to operate in that mode more than any other a lot of the time for me. How then can we be better at bearing the wait and persevering in our prayer as we suffer?

A couple weeks ago, my wife was being the saintly woman that she is and let me sleep in. If you’re wondering, for our family of six, sleeping in is maybe 8:30 AM. A little before this time, however, I woke up to feeling a significant pressure on my back and shoulder as I was sleeping on my side.

I realized that my 4-year-old son was kneeling on top of me. I loved it, but still tried to fall back asleep. To no avail. I lay there wondering how long he would do this, as it had been a while. When I finally opened my eyes to smile at him, he greeted me with a question about what he wanted to do that morning.

When I went downstairs, I shared this story with my wife. She laughed and explained to me when he asked her for permission she said that he could not wake me up, but needed to see if I was okay with it. So my son did exactly that!

What a lesson we have here in persevering in prayer. This is exactly what God wants of us. When we are seeking Him and His answer, His help, or His promise, we are to go to Him and rest with Him and then WAIT WITH Him.

Now, God never sleeps and is a far better Father than I am. When we imitate my son and wait with God, He always knows where we are and what we are doing. He knows when we are waiting and what we are waiting for.

When we wait with God, the burden becomes lighter and our trust in Him grows. We grow in our relationship with Him, so we grow in our certitude that whatever He brings about will make us happy. These are the natural consequences of spending time with someone who loves us.

How then do we wait WITH the Lord? Here are some tips:

  1. Prayer.Of course, but make it a daily goal to seek friendship with God for the relationship, and not just to ask for what you want. Spend time reading Scripture, being quiet and thinking about God, and recalling His presence to you. These will all help you grow in your relationship with Him.
  2. Seek what He wants for your life.Look to God to guide your steps by taking big decisions to Him. Trust that He wants to lead you to be happy, not always comfortable, but what He wants is always worth it. Do this by praying novenas, ask Him to make things clear by shutting down opportunities, or simply moving forward in prayer asking God to direct your steps.
  3. Be where He wants you to be. Stay close to God, much like my son kneeling on my back. Think about where God wants you to be, with Him in prayer, receiving the Sacraments, loving and helping those who have been brought into your path, avoiding evil, and living out your current state of life to the best of your ability, whether it’s as a student, single person, married person, a parent, or priest. Being faithful in all these things allows us to grow closer to God and wait with Him.
  4. Renew your mind.All the previous tips will help with this one. In Romans 12:2 we are given the directive to renew our minds. Basically to have our way of understanding and perceiving the world changed and aligned with how God sees it. This brings with it an increased relationship with God and a deeper experience of life. It truly renews your waiting experience as well. Seek this by modeling your life after the saints, following the tips above, and loving the Loving the Lord with all your heart, spirit, mind, and strength.

In a way, these tips also show us why God makes us wait. He wants us all to experience these things. He wants us to grow through these steps so that we can be aware of how close He is and have a deep, intimate relationship with Him.

Realizing this is what God wants will also make the waiting easier to bear as well. Know He is making you wait for a good reason! If Jesus gave His life for you, He would not hold anything back from you without a good reason.

Trust in His methods. We only receive what is best from the Lord! Keeping this in mind will help you bear the wait and persevere in prayer.

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