Wait Patiently on the Lord

“Even as officers in the military wait upon their commander to give them their assignments, so too do we wait upon the Lord for His direction and guidance through prayer.” by Jonathan Antonini

It is interesting to note that Jesus gave the Great Commission before the disciples received the power of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. However, the consequences would have been severe had the disciples acted upon Jesus’s words immediately and not waited patiently in Jerusalem. The tools and power given to the disciples during Pentecost were paramount before they pursued the Great Commission. They would have been like a carpenter trying to complete a house without his hammer or a stonemason working to sculpt a statue without his chisel. Often in our eagerness, we step out before God has revealed his specific plan—we build up such zeal that we forget to wait and see what direction the Lord is pointing us in. But what does it mean to “wait patiently for the Lord” (Psalm 27:14)?  

Paradoxically enough, the call to wait on the Lord is a call to action. It is an expectant heart, trusting in the God of wonders to give out His marching orders specific to your situation and circumstance. In ancient times, a servant who “waited” on a king was consistently and constantly in his presence. There was an eager sense of anticipation, knowing that the king would soon give an order or command. However, the servant was completely devoid of self-seeking, and the mind’s attention was given to the expectant call of the king. In a similar fashion, our hearts should be set on pursuing the will of the Lord for our lives. This does not simply entail general Bible reading; it requires clear direction through prayer. Even Paul and Silas, desiring to follow the Great Commission, sought to preach the gospel in Asia, but “the Holy Spirit had prevented them from preaching the word in the province of Asia at that time” (Acts 16:6).  Jesus’s call to preach the gospel to all nations and the Holy Spirit’s hindrance of Paul and Silas appear to be in contradiction with each other (Matthew 28:19). However, the Lord was using this this apparent tension to emphasize the importance of knowing where and when to act. As Paul waited patiently upon the Lord, he had a dream of a man from Macedonia in northern Greece (Acts 16:9). Seeing this as a sign from God, he departed for Greece at once. Paul received his “marching orders” directly from the Lord and then knew where he was to go. 

Even as officers in the military wait upon their commander to give them their assignments, so too do we wait upon the Lord for His direction and guidance through prayer. We do not seek God, asking Him to bless the endeavor we choose, but rather, we seek Him in supplication and prayer to reveal the endeavor He has already chosen for us to embark upon, and He will bless it. Think about what an absolute disaster a military action would be if all officers conducted their own affairs without waiting for orders. 

When Jesus ascended to Heaven, He was not passing the baton or torch to us, saying, “From now on, you do my work.” No! Heavens, no. When He ascended, He said to wait for the Helper to come. For Jesus tells us that “the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you” (John 14:26). We are not meant to do this alone or in our own strength. We are meant to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading, whether He will hinder us, as He did with Paul and Silas, or command us to go forth. For “unless the Lord builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted” (Psalm 127:1), meaning we can spend our lives working on a fruitless enterprise we think is for the Lord (Psalm 127:1). Can you imagine if Paul and Silas had pursued their ministry plans in Asia instead of Greece? Not only would they have been in disobedience to the Lord, but their effort would also have most likely ended in failure until they looked again to the King for direction and guidance. Now more than ever before, it is so incredibly important to “wait patiently on the Lord” (Psalm 27:14).    

Listening to the Holy Spirit is not simply an issue for those in ministry to understand; it’s for every Christian when deciding what profession they should be in, what church to go to, what city to live in and how to conduct their affairs. Wait patiently for God until “your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, ‘This is the way you should go,’ whether to the right or to the left” (Isaiah 30:21). Let your ears be attuned to hear His voice as Paul did, and let your heart be set to wait upon the King. Before any endeavor is embarked upon, know from Scripture, prayer and friendly counsel that it is the path the Lord has set before you.   

How many ministries fail and how many battles are lost because we run ahead of the Lord, presuming we know His will? How many failed projects and broken dreams lie shattered on the floor because we would not seek the Lord for His specific will? 

We follow His leading, His light. We do not go off and try to do it on our own simply because we can quote a scripture. Let His Spirit and His Word lead you. Press in seek His calling on your life before you move, and be in prayer. Grab hold of the hem of His robe and ask Him to lead you. Activity should never precede prayer. Watch, wait and pray; and then once His direction is clear, move in it. Follow His leading, and He will bless His work.