How to Wait on the Lord

How to Wait on the Lord

In a well-known study on delayed gratification, researchers invited young children to eat one marshmallow right away or wait for a few minutes to receive two marshmallows. After observing the results and tracking the children for many years, Stanford University researchers determined that the children who waited for two marshmallows grew up to be more mature, successful adults than those who couldn’t wait.1

Watching children contend with their impatience while waiting for marshmallows or birthday cake can bring a smile to anyone’s face. But the battle doesn’t end when we reach adulthood. We wait on hold, wait in line, and as God’s children, we wait on our knees. If we want to be two-marshmallow Christians, we must come to terms with what it means to wait on the Lord.

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How to Wait on the Lord

What Does It Mean to Wait on the Lord?

To wait on the Lord is to trust that God is at work even when His timetable is longer than we’d like. It goes against our nature, but part of the problem is how we define “waiting.” Biblical waiting involves actively walking in step with God as He unfolds His plans. It is far more than sitting around, twiddling our thumbs.

Biblical waiting involves actively walking in step with God as He unfolds His plans.

Waiting is what happens between the promise and the fulfillment. If we learn to wait on the Lord, we will see Him do great things. Sometimes God uses waiting to help us see His will more clearly, to embrace it more joyfully when it is made clear. One benefit of waiting on the Lord is often revealed only with time—we look back and see how God worked things out all along. Just because we can’t see God at work doesn’t mean He isn’t at work. The how and the why are God’s responsibility. Our part is to “rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him” (Psalm 37:7). In the waiting, we build our trust in God.

What Does It Look Like to Wait on the Lord?

The Bible says, “Imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, ‘Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.’ And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise” (Hebrews 6:12-15).

From the time God established a covenant with Abraham until Abraham’s son Isaac was born, Abraham waited 25 years. Then, God tested Abraham by instructing him to sacrifice Isaac (Genesis 22:1-14). It wasn’t until after Abraham prepared to offer his precious son as a burnt offering that the Lord reiterated His promise to multiply Abraham’s descendants (Genesis 22:15-18; Romans 4:20).

Abraham’s walk with God was intense, but the principle applies to all of us. As he waited, he stayed close to the Lord, believing in His promises.

What Can I Do While I Wait on the Lord?

The most constructive thing we can do while we wait on the Lord’s timing is to focus on what we know for sure: God is good; God is love; God’s Word is true; God causes all things to work together for our good, according to His purpose; God is conforming us to the image of Christ; God has given us the family of faith for love and support. Jesus promised, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Focusing on what we know and understand about God teaches us to trust in His unfailing power to bring us through.

The most constructive thing we can do while we wait on the Lord’s timing is to focus on what we know and understand about God.

How Can I Wait on the Lord When I’m in a Hurry, but He Isn’t?

The world portrays patience as a grit-your-teeth, feet-planted, white-knuckle kind of internal fortitude. God has a different model: endurance by the power of the Holy Spirit. According to Galatians 5:22, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience…” (NASB). Those attributes are the evidence of Christ living in us (Galatians 2:20). Rather than bending our will to God’s timetable, the Holy Spirit’s presence in us allows God to work through us as we wait on the Lord. This model will enable us to move as the Spirit leads and accept what God is doing every step of the way. And every time we trust God, we accumulate new reasons to trust Him again.

What Will Happen if I Don’t Wait on the Lord?

Isaiah 40:31 says, “Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles.” They soar! An eagle’s wings are so strong that they can catch rising currents of warm air that radiate from the earth. And without moving a feather, they can reach great heights. In fact, researchers have clocked some eagles at more than eighty miles an hour without flapping their wings at all. They soar on the invisible columns of air.

Another form of flying is flapping. It requires a bird to keep its wings in constant motion to counteract gravity. Researchers estimate that the energy needed to flap is thirty to fifty times higher than soaring.2 If you prefer to go through life doing your own thing, just flapping around, you can do that. You’ll make a lot of commotion and wear yourself out pretty quickly. But if you let God teach you to soar like an eagle and rest in the updrafts of His Spirit, you will receive the energy that comes from Him and fly in His strength.

If you let God teach you to soar like an eagle and rest in the updrafts of His Spirit, you will receive the energy that comes from Him and fly in His strength.

How Can I Get Better at Waiting on the Lord?

God wants to teach us to soar. Sometimes He releases us into uncomfortable situations until we learn to rest in Him and take on His strength and power. When we are most in need of Him, we are most motivated to learn to wait upon Him and gain His strength. Are you willing to find a quiet place and time in your life to wait on the Lord? Tell Him. When you say these words to the Lord, you know you are ready to wait on Him.

Lord God, You promise to supply me with patience and renew my strength. I trust You to keep Your promises. I don’t see things as clearly as You see them, and I don’t understand Your timing. But I’m waiting on You, Lord. I believe in You. I’m going to let You Guide my life and direct me. I’m turning all that I am over to You. I fully surrender to You. And I will soar on the winds of Your Spirit wherever You want me to go. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Remember: “wait” is a verb. It requires patience, yes, but it also requires action. To wait on the Lord is to trust Him, follow Him, study His Word and meditate on Him.

1Daniel Goldman, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ (New York: Bantam, 1995).

2Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, “Soaring is better than flapping for birds big and small,” ScienceDaily, December 8, 2010, , accessed June 21, 2022.

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How to Wait on the Lord