One of the most common phrases Christians utter when they are believing for God to answer a prayer is, “I am just waiting on the Lord.” While we never want to get ahead of God, I’ve discovered that God works when we work and this is how breakthroughs usually come. The opposite is also true. When we are passive and don’t do anything, it will often seem like God isn’t doing very much and answers to prayer usually don’t happen. This is why many people have been waiting on the Lord for 20 and 30 years and still haven’t received their answer to prayer yet.
In this article I want to explore what the Bible means when it talks about waiting on the Lord. It does not mean to be passive. It means to be focused, attentive, and in a sense anticipatory. Look at Psalm 37:7:
Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way,
Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.
The Hebrew word for wait is chûwl. This word means to dance, twist, or twirl and can also mean to bring forth with pain. While I’ll admit there is big difference between dancing and bringing something forth with pain, neither concept gives the idea of passivity. Think about it, when I dance with my wife, she is paying attention to every move I make because I am leading. For sake of this illustration, let’s pretend I’m a good dancer. As my dance partner, she has to be focused and attentive to what I’m doing or otherwise we will get out of sequence.
This is what God is saying to us when we are waiting on Him. He wants us to be very focused and attentive in the dance of life so we can respond to every move He makes. If we don’t move with Him, He can no longer move and is stuck. This means when we are waiting on God we are to be very focused and not passively sitting back hoping He finally does something.
Another example of this is in Acts 16:
6 Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. 7 After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them. 8 So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.
In this account, the Apostle Paul is trying to figure out God’s next step for His ministry. He tries to go to Asia and the Holy Spirit forbids him. Then he tried to go to Bithynia and the Holy Spirit didn’t permit him. After that, he tried to go to Troas and God gave him a vision and called him into Macedonia. The point I want you to see from these verses is Paul was looking for somewhere to go. He wasn’t passively sitting around not doing anything. God speaks to the attentive.
There is a famous saying that God can’t steer a parked car. This means if we don’t know what to do, we are better to start doing something even if it is the wrong thing than to sit around doing nothing. The idea is, if we get in motion God can steer our life in line with His plans and purposes. I have done this many times over the years and seen God direct my steps and clarify his plan for my life.
Before we go further, I want to be clear that when I step out in faith, I don’t do things that are sinful or don’t fit the gifts and talents that God has given me. That’s a prerequisite to this, but I understand everyone may not get that so I want to be emphatic on that point. I also want to be clear that when I step out, I am very focused on Him as I begin to step and act on a new venture. As I do, God shows me if I’m completely missing His will or where to make adjustments if what I’m doing is a little off so I get in line with His plan.
An example of this is when we began to livestream our church services four years ago. I didn’t know how to do this, but I sensed that it was something we were supposed to do. At the same time God sent a family to our church that had a lot of experience with video production. We had a few conversations and then started livesteaming on Facebook and YouTube without knowing perfectly how to do it or having all of the details worked out.
Did we do everything perfectly? Absolutely not! We made plenty of mistakes, but over the last four years we have gotten better and made tons of improvements. Most of the guests to our church now found us online by watching one of our livestreams. I don’t know where we’d be if I wouldn’t have began to move in a direction and would have “waited on the Lord” the way most Christians define it.
Waiting on God isn’t being passive and not doing anything. It is extreme focus on Him and acting in alignment with HIs leading. God works when we work. He wants us to step out by faith and believe Him. He can’t steer a parked car so He needs us to put our vehicle in motion so He can direct us into His plans and purposes for our life! I hope this article has encouraged you. If would like to learn more about walking in God’s plan for your life, check out this message I taught at Grace Life Church.