Chapters 23, 24 – Discovering God’s Purposes and Experiencing the Joy of Waiting

Pray First

So, the first thing that waiting on God means is this: before you make one peep of an effort to solve your own problem or hire a human agency, pray. Seek the counsel of God. What is his way to solve this problem and bring you out of trouble? It says in Psalm 106:13, “They soon forgot his works; they did not wait for his counsel.”

The first act of waiting, therefore, is prayer — before we make one little move to solve our problem. And I know, if you’re like me, you’ve come through many efforts, and an hour into it you say, “I forgot to pray.” And we need to work to form the habit of stopping again and again and again. That’s what Paul means, I think, when he says, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Before you do anything, at every little occasion of your life — every interview, every encounter — whisper a prayer. “How would it go if I relied on you? What do you want me to do?” And then do what the Lord says.

We are like patients. Prayer is like getting on the phone and calling up your doctor and saying, “I’m in trouble; there’s this pain. What should I do about it?” Before you gulp down any medicine or start doing jumping jacks, call the doctor. God says to the people,

“In returning and rest you shall be saved;
     in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”
But you were unwilling, and you said,
“No! We will flee upon horses”;
     therefore you shall flee away;
and, “We will ride upon swift steeds”;
     therefore your pursuers shall be swift.

Then Be Still and Rest

So, the second thing that waiting for the Lord means is this: after you’ve prayed to the doctor and he says, “Be still,” be still and rest.

But now here’s the essence. Now, get this carefully, because we’re so prone to think that waiting means stillness, but as soon as we start acting — preparing a sermon or a lesson, going to work, preparing a report, staying up late to work, work, work — we don’t have to wait anymore. That’s not the case because — and this changes all of life — there is a spirit of waiting in the midst of work. Proverbs 21:31 says this: The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord. It means that when the Lord says “Go,” he doesn’t stop waiting. He carries with him into battle a spirit of expectancy, a sense that “Yes, I will fight with all my might, but I must wait on the one in whose hands alone is the victory.” No matter how hard you work, there should be a spirit of waiting, a spirit of expectancy, a spirit that out of and through all this activity is going to come lightning from heaven to do supernatural work.

Even when we are watchmen doing our duty, we must be waiting for the Lord, for he alone brings safety. So, the third form of waiting is this: even when the Lord says “Act,” we act with a spirit of reliance on his work, and we wait for the Lord in a spirit of expectancy that even though our labor is vulnerable and paltry, the final result of all we do lies in the hands of the Lord. And on that we wait in all our work.

So, whether we lie still and sit, or whether we work, let us have this in common: that we wait for the Lord, that we have a spirit of expectancy that no matter how paltry our labors are, the final issue is in the hands of the Lord. And he loves to work for those who wait for him.

The Reason God Sometimes Delays His Answers

Why would God wait to answer our prayers?  Wouldn’t we expect that since God is all-powerful that He would answer immediately?  What is the purpose for God’s delaying our prayer requests?

One reason that God may not answer our prayers or that He waits is that we are asking for the wrong thing.  We may be asking for something that is not in God’s will for our lives and we might be asking for selfish reasons.  James, the half-brother of Jesus wrote, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures”(James 4:3).

In the  Lord’s Prayer, we are to ask that His will be done on earth just as it is in heaven (Matt 6:10).   We know that God’s will for believers is to grow in grace and knowledge, so we can ask for spiritual understanding of His Word just before we read the Bible.  There is confidence in praying when we know His will for out lives as it says in I John 5:14-15, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.”

When we pray, we may have serious doubts about God’s ability or willingness to answer our prayer.  James 12:6-7 indicates that if we pray in doubt, God will not honor our requests saying, “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.”  God may be waiting for us to pray in real faith, in expectation of receiving an answer, or to see if we are serious enough to continue to pray for it.

God will not answer the prayer of a believer if they are in a state of perpetual, unrepentant sin (I Pet. 3:12). Psalm 66:18 is clear that “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.“ If we are obedient, He will hear our prayers (John 15:7) but if we are unforgiving, He will refuse our petitions before His altar (Matt. 18:35). 

God also expects us to wait patiently on His perfect timing (Psalm 66:18).  In Hebrews 10:36, “For you have need of patience, that, after you have done the will of God, you might receive the promise.” The minor prophet, Habakkuk speaks for all of us when he grew impatient in waiting for God to answer his request in 1:2, “How long, LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen?”

Our Father has reasons peculiar to himself for thus keeping us waiting. Sometimes it is to show his power and his sovereignty, that men may know that Jehovah has a right to give or to withhold. More frequently the delay is for our profit. Thou art perhaps kept waiting in order that thy desires may be more fervent. God knows that delay will quicken and increase desire, and that if he keeps thee waiting thou wilt see thy necessity more clearly, and wilt seek more earnestly; and that thou wilt prize the mercy all the more for its long tarrying. There may also be something wrong in thee which has need to be removed, before the joy of the Lord is given. Perhaps thy views of the Gospel plan are confused, or thou mayest be placing some little reliance on thyself, instead of trusting simply and entirely to the Lord Jesus. Or, God makes thee tarry awhile that he may the more fully display the riches of his grace to thee at last. Thy prayers are all filed in heaven, and if not immediately answered they are certainly not forgotten, but in a little while shall be fulfilled to thy delight and satisfaction. Let not despair make thee silent, but continue instant in earnest supplication.

What to Do While Waiting

Ten things to do while waiting on God

  • Believe that the God who saved you hears your cries (Micah 7:7).
  • Watch with expectancy, but be prepared for unexpected answers (Psalm 5:3).
  • Put your hope in his Word (Psalm 130:5-6).
  • Trust in the Lord, not in your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6).
  • Resist fretting, refrain from anger, be still, and choose patience (Psalm 37:7-8).
  • Be strong and take courage (Psalm 27:13-14; 31:24).
  • See it as an opportunity to experience God’s goodness (Psalm 27:13; Lamentations 3:25).
  • Wait for God’s promise instead of going your own way (Acts 1:4)
  • Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful with thanksgiving (Colossians 4:2)
  • Remember the blessings yet to come (Isaiah 30:18)

Susannah Spurgeon, wife of Charles Spurgeon, counseled her own heart with these words: The Lord has strewn the pages of of God’s Word with promises of blessedness to those who wait for Him. And remember, His slightest Word stands fast and sure; it can never fail you. So, my soul, see that you have a promise underneath thee, for then your waiting will be resting and a firm foothold for your hope will give you confidence in Him who has said, ‘They shall not be ashamed that wait for Me.’”

Live for God’s Glory

The concept is simple, really. We, as Christians, have been, the Bible tells us, bought with a price, and so we now belong to Him. Christ ransomed us, purchased us, made us His, and so we now, being His, are to live our lives for His glory. That is what each of these three verses speaks to.

In the first one, Ephesians 1:12, Paul spends several verses just talking about the gospel, the fact that Christ came, Christ saved us, God chose us, we are His, our sins are forgiven in Christ. He talks about the splendor, the mystery, the eternal, majestic gift of salvation, and then comes verse 12 which is kind of a purpose statement that tells us the result of these fantastic truths. What is the purpose, the reason for all that Christ has done for us? It is so that we might be “for the praise of His glory!”

The issue in 1 Cor 10:31 is to do all for the glory and honor of God. If you eat, do so for God’s glory, if you drink, do so for God’s glory, if you do anything else, do that too for God’s glory. This means do all things in obedience to Him, in a way that is loving and honoring toward Him. All things, everything for His glory.

One thing I really like about this passage is how it is all-inclusive. What I mean is that at the end Paul adds, “or whatever you do.” That includes everything we do. In everything we ought to think, how can I glorify God, how can I make Him known, how can I present Him with my speech and with my life? 

2 Cor 5:9 has context that is important for us to understand to get its full meaning. Paul is not talking about home in your house or on vacation away from your house. He is talking about home as alive in your current body and away being away from your current body, having left this life as we know it.

So Paul is saying whether you are dead, away from this body, or alive, in this body, either way we are to make it our aim to please Him. To please Him is to glorify Him. Our place, our mission, our aim is to be to do what is pleasing to God, to glorify God on this earth.

Chapters 23, 24 – Questions

  1. Pg 174 ( Thrasher ) “ He loves us so much that He has not sentenced us to serve Him with an anxious heart and distracted mind. The Lord wants to train us to enjoy Him in all of our endeavors.“ Read and discuss Luke 10:38-42 and pages 173-175 in the book. Share good points, new insights of Thrasher’s interpretation.
  2. Pg 178 -180  “ In prayer God is seeking to get us under His loving authority”…..discuss what it means to submit to God.  Read scripture and discuss what it means to” live for His glory “ ( see pages 182-183 )
    • Ephesians 1:12 – so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.
    • 1 Corinthians 10:31So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
    • 2 Corinthians 5:9 – So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.
  3. There are 5 purposes of God in prayer in Chapter 24. What area is most difficult to follow ?
  4. Pg 177-178: Three stories of people praying to God, but their prayers were not answered the way they wanted, and the result for them was anguish, disappointment, cynical skepticism, and bitterness. What can you say to these people to help them better understand why their prayers were not answered.
  5. Good verses on waiting….. ( just something extra !!!)
    • Isa 30:18
    • Psalm 130:5
    • Psalm 27:14
    • Isa 64:4
    • Psalm 40:1
    • Lam 3:25-26


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