Purposeful Waiting

by Janet Holm McHenry

I had timed my trip perfectly. I would have just enough time to drive into Reno from the mountains, take the antique clock to the repair shop, and get to church across town for a Zoom meeting.

But as I came down the mountain thoroughfare, I saw flashing lights down the road and a long line of stopped cars in front of me. A major section of the street had been cordoned off, and when I turned the radio on, I learned a couple miles in all directions had been blocked because of an “incident”—which meant criminal activity was underway. I would be stuck there waiting potentially for hours.

As I inched my way forward, though, I noticed a side street to my left and made a quick turn so I could navigate around the area to the clock repair business. However, many other drivers had done the same, and a ten-minute errand ended up taking an hour as I waited in traffic. I missed my meeting entirely.

The disciples had to wait, too. Before Jesus ascended to heaven, He told them to go to Jerusalem and wait for the Holy Spirit to come. They did just what Jesus told them to do. They returned to Jerusalem from Mt. Olivet, and they waited . . . and prayed.

If I had been there, I would have found some cooking to be done or some clothes to be washed. I’d have gotten out my clipboard and put together some action plans, if not a grocery list or two.

I’m not good at waiting. If I text someone, I want a quick response. If I’m put on hold, I reorganize my office. Waiting is hard, especially when there are a dozen other things to do. But the followers of Jesus waited for the Spirit to come to earth and indwell them, so that they could proceed with the power they needed to carry the gospel message to the ends of the earth.

However, even though we feel stagnant during a season of waiting, God is not necessarily inactive. He is working behind scenes, as well as building character, strength, and self-discipline in us to do the hard work that is ahead. And we can do that hard work, because the Spirit will equip us for it.

Prayer may be the best thing we can do as we wait. It sets our hearts and minds on God, helps us anticipate His plan for our lives, and makes us more like Him.

 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.” Acts 1:4 NIV

This article brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association.

About the author: Janet McHenry is a national speaker and the author of 24 books—six on prayer, including the bestselling PrayerWalk and her newest, The Complete Guide to the Prayers of Jesus. The coordinator of prayer ministries of The Bridge Church in Reno, she is also Sierra County (CA) coordinator for the National Day of Prayer and creator of Prayer School, an online Teachable course. Janet is the host of the Sierra Valley Writers Retreat, coaches new writers, and loves to connect with readers: www.janetmchenry.com

Join the conversation. How do you make use of your waiting seasons?


5 thoughts on “Purposeful Waiting

  1. Loved the picture you painted, Janet. I still wonder if the women were serving the men while waiting. Unless they were fasting, which it doesn’t say. I remember the story of Golda Meir meeting international dignitaries in her kitchen and cooking and cleaning as they discussed matters of state. Of course, if she was entertaining the LORD, that would have been different.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Such good timing as I’m having to wait right now! We all need to learn that gift of “rest” when we are called to wait…and, if we need to be “doing something,” that gift of time is a golden opportunity for prayer!!


  3. Amen on this: “However, even though we feel stagnant during a season of waiting, God is not necessarily inactive.” Thank you, Janet! My sister, Karen, and I love to remind each other, “God is multi-tasking even when we’re waiting.”


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