If you have hit a dry period in your spiritual life and God seems distant and deaf, how do you find the strength to persevere in prayer? How do you hang on until help comes? What is your waiting strategy?
According to Emilie Griffin, our growth and our sanctification is found in the waiting:
We hate to admit that we are deepened by this waiting. Waiting makes us strong. We thought we were frivolous, impatient people, bent on self-gratification. Slowly, we grasp what we are made of. Patience sharpens and refines us. We endure.
I am not a very patient person. I like action steps and plans and implementation. Sitting and waiting with nothing to do but trust is hard for me. Lately, I have been in a time of waiting. Here are a few things that have been my waiting strategy:
- Do the next right thing. Sometimes, the only thing we have control over is our next course of action. This can be as simple as to send that text of encouragement to someone; that run that will make you feel better; that point of service that is desperately needed.
- Written or memorized prayers. There are hundreds of written prayers full of deep theology, rich praise, and honest confession and hope. I find these speak to my condition much more than my often rambling and incoherent prayers. No doubt, God can look past my incoherent prayers but I feel better when I can verbalize things a little clearer and with some depth. Lately, I have been using the following prayer by Charles de Foucauld: “Father, I abandon myself into your hands. Do with me what you will. Whatever you may do, I thank you. I am ready for all, I accept all. Let only your will be done in me and in all your creatures. I wish no more than this, O Lord. Into your hands I commend my soul. I offer it to you with all the love of my heart, for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself, to surrender myself into your hands without reserve and with boundless confidence, for you are my Father.”
- Acknowledge the good inherent to the good. Look, I am not saying I am good but as a believer and practicing Christian I have access to blessings and grace. But am I paying attention? I need to recognize the quality of the worship that I just experienced at church. I need to be grateful for the sweet love of our daughters. I need to recognize all of the ways God is showing up even if I don’t see it in a certain area or as an answer to a specific prayer.
Waiting is not fun and is fraught with doubt, uncertainty, and questioning but it is a part of life, even the Christian life. Develop a strategy for waiting that helps you embrace the season you find yourself in and begins to strengthen you as you wait. Waiting does not have to be devastating or torturous.