Most Christians understand that there will be times or seasons in our lives in which we will have to wait on God’s timing. However, we don’t really know how to do that. We don’t know what waiting on God looks like on a practical everyday basis.
In fact, some of the most googled questions on the topic include:
- What do I do while waiting on God?
- Does waiting on God mean doing nothing?
- What is the process of waiting on God?
- How can I trust God while waiting?
- What should we NOT do when waiting on God?
In this post we will dive in to answer these very questions to see what the bible says about what to do while waiting on God.
This post may contain affiliate links. You can read my full disclosure here.
- The Spiritual Mindset Required to Wait Well
- What to do While Waiting on God
- Learn and Pray to Wait Well
The Spiritual Mindset Required to Wait Well
In the first part of this post series, 5 Key Things the Bible Teaches About Waiting on God, we learned that waiting on God is naturally difficult, which is why we need to have the proper spiritual mindset required to wait well. Scripture is clear regarding the key things we need to understand in order to have that mindset:
- God’s timetables are different than ours. Expecting God to do things on our time will only set us up for disappointment.
- God is sovereign over everything. We can trust that whatever He does, and whatever His timing is, it is also perfect, and ultimately for our good, because God knows best.
- God has appointed times for everything. That includes our conception and birth, our death and day of judgement, and every single event in between.
- Waiting on God develops our faith and trust in Him. God takes us through a process in the waiting period, through which He builds our faith and trust in Him.
- God has equipped us to wait well. We are equipped through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit to be able to wait well.
Continually reflecting on these things gives us the spiritual mindset to wait well, and strengthens us to do what God wants us to do during our times of waiting.
What to do While Waiting on God
Unlike some of the instances in the bible, God doesn’t give us a specific timeframe in regard to when He will answer our prayers. And since that is the case, we have to always be mentally and spiritually prepared for the “long haul” when it comes to waiting on God. So, what should the waiting period look like on a practical everyday basis?
1. Spend Time With God Regularly
First and foremost, the absolute best thing to do while waiting on God is to spend time with Him. By spending time reading God’s Word and talking to Him in prayer regularly, we keep our focus and trust on Him. This is vital in times of waiting, because oftentimes the devil will utilize those same periods in our lives to distract us, get us to worry, and most of all, to doubt God.
Spending time with God regularly, helps us to recognize the lies of the enemy that will inevitably come to our minds, such as:
- You’re a failure
- This situation will never get better
- God can’t fix this
- God has forgotten about you
Yes, knowing what the bible says about waiting on God equips us with the mindset to wait well. But it will take spending time with God regularly to help us maintain that mindset during our times of waiting. To think we will be able to do so without spending time with God, is to lie to ourselves.
- Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. Psalm 119:105 NIV
- I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. Psalm 130:5
- My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word. Psalm 119:28
2. Maintain an Attitude of Hope
It is not easy to maintain a good attitude in times of waiting. We may start to complain, get impatient, angry, jealous, or even resentful.
How are you going to react when you see a family member get blessed with the very thing you have been waiting on God for? How will you react if someone you don’t like gets the promotion you’ve been working hard to get for three years? How will you react when you’ve been waiting for a decade for God to bless you with a spouse?
Or what about when someone in your church who isn’t even praying for a new car, gets blessed with one, while you’ve been saving, praying, and waiting for two years? Or when you’ve been praying for your rebellious teenager for months without seeing any change?
I promise you, no matter what it is you are waiting on God for, the enemy will do his best to discourage you by getting your focus off God and on to everything and everyone around you. In fact, it may even seem like everyone else is getting “blessed” except you.
But we can’t allow the devil to take us on a downward spiral of random, irrational, negative thoughts or emotions. Yes, the feelings that come will be real. And when they arise, we need to bring them all to God. Talk to Him and be honest about your pain, frustration, worry, doubt, stress, fear, anger, resentment, or jealousy. After all, He already knows our hearts anyway.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:6-7 NIV
Scripture teaches us to remain hopeful in our times of waiting. Hope, by definition, has the connotation of waiting. It is an expectation of something to happen. People can put their hope in a lot of things, but as Christians ultimately our hope is in Christ. And we can ALWAYS count on Him to come through at His appointed time.
We never hope in a ‘wishful’ way, or like hoping for a dream that may or may not ever happen. We hope in the God of the universe, and He can be trusted:
- Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:14 NIV
- We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. Psalm 33:20 NIV
- In you, Lord my God, I put my trust. I trust in you; do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame, but shame will come on those who are treacherous without cause. Psalm 25:1-3 NIV
- Lord, I wait for you; you will answer, Lord my God. Psalm 38:15 NIV
- May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 NIV
In our times of waiting, let us remember that God hasn’t forgotten us. Depending on your situation, you may go through a period where you don’t see any results, changes, or improvements. In fact, things may get worse before they get better. However, we must NEVER give up hope.
3. Continue Serving God
Another essential thing to do while waiting on God is to do what you already know to do – keep serving Him!
Trust in the Lord and do good.Psalm 37:3a NIV
Waiting on God does not mean folding our hands and doing nothing. This attitude of complacency will typically stem from discouragement, or even harboring anger towards God. This is why spending time with God and maintaining an attitude of hope is so important, as it will help to keep us encouraged to continue serving God in our times of waiting.
Don’t stop going to bible study, or church. Don’t stop evangelizing or being a testimony for Jesus on your job. Don’t stop having devotions with your kids. Don’t stop helping your elderly neighbor with computer issues. Don’t stop encouraging your friends through phone calls, visits, and prayers. Don’t stop giving and being a blessing to others.
Don’t go on a “spiritual strike” and stop serving God. I promise you that is NOT the answer!
God has not called us to sit around and be sad, miserable, and depressed just because He isn’t working on our timetables and doing things in our lives as quickly as we want Him to. As Christians, we all have a purpose whether He answers our prayers or not.
- Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. Ecclesiastes 12:13 NIV
- Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58 NIV
- For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10 NIV
Newsflash: we can always find something to do for God!
I have often found that in the times of my life where I was struggling most (with waiting or anything else), that it always helped to shift my focus off of myself, by finding someone else I could be there for. Ask God to show you how He wants you to show up for Him and others during your season of waiting.
So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.Galatians 6:9 NLT
Make sure in you’re waiting period that God isn’t halting things in your life due to sin or disobedience. When we fold our hands and stop obeying and serving Him and doing what He has already called us to do, that can definitely be a hindrance to our prayers.
4. Keep Living Your Life
Along with continuing to serve God, we are also to keep living our everyday lives. Life is a journey, and that journey includes whatever waiting period you may find yourself in.
I remember when I first moved back to Virginia after living in Philadelphia for fifteen years. I had lost everything – my marriage, ministry, home, and car. In my mind, my son and I would only have to live with my parents for one year max. Welp, we ended up living with them for 5 years!
During that time, I had a choice to make. I could choose to be miserable and spend every day complaining, being depressed, sad, angry, and feeling defeated. Or I could choose to trust God’s timing and keep living my life in hopeful expectation.
In other words, life doesn’t stop just because God hasn’t answered your prayer for a spouse, a new place, a new job, a financial need, or a health issue. When things are beyond our control, all we can do is literally trust God, keep serving Him, and keep living life.
When God sent the nation of Israel into exile for 70 years in Babylon, He had the prophet Jeremiah send them a letter with specific instructions and encouragement for their waiting period:
This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams they encourage them to have. They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the Lord. This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”Jeremiah 29:4-14 NIV
God told the exiles exactly what to do while in captivity: keep living and keep serving God! And he was very specific on how to do so – settle down, plant gardens, marry and have kids, seek the peace and prosperity of the land of your captivity, and don’t listen to the lying prophets. In addition to the instructions, God gave them encouragement by reiterating His promise that He would indeed bring them back to their land after the 70 years was complete because He had a plan for them as a people.
We can apply the same overall message to ourselves today. Any time that we go through times of waiting, God wants us to continue living and keep serving Him until He brings our waiting season to its appointed end. And we do this because He is God, He is still in control, and He has a plan for our lives as well.
Our times of waiting, struggle, or suffering is not the end for us. And even if it were the end for us here on earth, it would only be the beginning of what he has in store for us in eternity.
So, while you’re waiting on God, keep living. Go to work, go to school, love your spouse, take care of your home, be a good steward of your finances, feed your pet, and spend time with your family and friends. Try a new hobby, read a new book, learn a new language, travel somewhere new, eat at a new restaurant, or bake a new dessert. Enjoy the life that God has given you.
Make the most of your current circumstances by accepting where God has you right now. Then you can thrive where you are, while you wait.
5. Reflect on God’s Goodness in Your Life
One of the most common tricks of the enemy is to shift our focus off God so that we forget what He has done or is doing in our lives. And in our times of waiting, we become even more susceptible to this.
When time passes and we don’t see progress, change, or anything positive regarding our situation, it is easy to lose focus on God and on the hope we are called to maintain in Him.
I have found that whenever my mind starts to dwell on things I don’t have, or I start playing the comparison game with other people, or my thoughts spiral into a range of negative emotions, the best thing for me to do is to start praising God and giving thanks. I literally pause and just start naming things I’m grateful to God for, until my attitude and mindset shifts out of its negative spiral. Doing this is not just a good idea, but it’s God’s will for us:
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV
God wants us to give thanks in ALL circumstances, and that includes our times of waiting.
- Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Psalm 118:29 NIV
- But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me. Psalm 13:5-6 NIV
- Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. Ephesians 1:3 NIV
- Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. Hebrews 13:15 NIV
- So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Colossians 2:6-7 NIV
When you find yourself in a state of sadness, depression, negativity, frustration, and even anger regarding your waiting situation, just start quoting Scripture and giving thanks to God. Whether you write it down in a journal or give thanks out loud, reflect on what God has done for you in the past and how He has always come through for you.
Reflect on what He is doing currently in your life. I promise you, even if you are going through tough circumstances right now, God is still active in your life. The fact that you are reading this post right now is proof of that because He woke you up today.
Listening to praise and worship music can be helpful as well. Even if you don’t feel like listening to it, turn it on and force yourself to sing along. I promise your mood will begin to shift.
David is a perfect example of how to praise God amidst hard times of waiting. While he was on the run for his life, waiting to become the official king of Israel as God had promised, he wrote:
Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.Psalm 63:3-5 NIV
You and I are empowered by the same Holy Spirit that influenced David. Therefore, we too can learn to shift our minds to reflect on and praise God for His goodness during our waiting, no matter how difficult it may get.
6. Look For Lessons From God
Another thing we are called to do while we are waiting on God is to look for the lessons He may be trying to teach us.
Some key questions we can prayerfully ask during this process are:
- Why does God have me here in this situation, at this time?
- What is God revealing about Himself to me through this waiting period?
- What is God trying to teach me through this?
Again, as humans we don’t like to wait. We want instantaneous results, answers, and solutions to problems. We are often in so much of a rush to get through certain seasons of life that we miss out on God’s purpose for those seasons.
I think Priscilla Shirer said it best:
The fact of the matter is that some of the best life lessons are often found in times of waiting. The question is will we pause long enough to see what God is trying to teach us?
Are we enjoying the journey of our lives and taking note of our progress along the way. Do we see what God is doing? The changes He is making in our hearts and minds, our attitudes, our lifestyles, our choices, our family, our finances.
Do we see how He is working behind the scenes for our good? Do we see how he is testing us to strengthen us for harder times to come, or to be an encouragement to someone else who will go through the same thing? Do we see the character and endurance He is building in our faith as we learn to trust Him? Do we see what sins He is trying to get us to deal with?
I am so grateful for all the financial difficulties that God has taken me through this last decade since I divorced and became a single mother. God has strengthened my faith so much when it comes to my finances that I don’t even bat an eye anymore when I’m lacking anything. Because I know who God is and what He has done for me in the past, I stand on His Word which says He will supply all my needs according to His riches in glory (Philippians 4:19).
I didn’t always respond to waiting for a financial breakthrough that way. There were times when I would do nothing but complain, worry, stress, and get angry with God for not blessing me the way I wanted Him to, when I wanted Him to. But over time, God taught me how to truly trust Him with my finances, which for me was an area where I always wanted to have control.
I don’t know what lessons God may be trying to teach you, but it is vital to know what God is teaching you for your situation. Don’t run from the lessons, for in them is where we get closer to God.
7. Don’t Take Matters Into Your Own Hands
Last, but certainly not least, there is one thing we should NOT do in our times of waiting on God – take matters into our own hands.
When we become impatient with God and start to object to His waiting process, we sometimes come up with our own solutions in an attempt to “speed up” the process. But the truth is, we can’t speed up, slow down, or halt God’s timeline. Our impatient actions only end up making our waiting period harder for us.
I promise you, once impatience stirs up within us, the devil will be on the prowl ready to convince you that there are alternate solutions at your disposal. You might be asking yourself how do I know if or when a solution is not from God? The biblical rule of thumb is that if it’s something that causes you to directly disobey something that God has already told you to do, or if it is something sinful, then IT IS NOT FROM GOD!
In part 1 of this post series we looked at Abraham and Sarah and how God promised to make them into a great nation despite the fact that they had no children. Did you know that Sarah tried to take matters into her own hands during their waiting period?
After about 11 years from the time God made the promise, Sarah still hadn’t gotten pregnant. Filled with doubt and impatience, she concocted her own plan. She gave her servant Hagar to Abraham to sleep with so she could bear a child for them.
Long story short, Hagar got pregnant and had a son which brought all kinds of jealousy, drama, and resentment into their household. After all that, God made Sarah and Abraham aware that the son Hagar had was NOT the son through whom He was going to make them into a great nation.
So, in Sarah’s efforts to “speed up” God’s plan she only caused herself more frustration and misery. God had an appointed timeline which was not at all thwarted by their sinful actions. In fact, it was another 14 years before God opened Sarah’s womb to get pregnant and give birth to the actual promised son. Their total waiting period from the time of the promise until fruition was 25 years! (Genesis 12-21)
The point here is that we shouldn’t try any alternative options without consulting God first. Waiting on God means not acting outside of God. It means staying within His guidelines and boundaries while maintaining trust and hope in Him.
- But they soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his plan to unfold. Psalm 106:13 NIV
- Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong!” Wait for the Lord, and he will avenge you. Proverbs 20:22 NIV
- But you must return to your God; maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always. Hosea 12:6 NIV
Learn and Pray to Wait Well
Now that we understand what the bible teaches about waiting on God and what to do while waiting on God, I pray that we all will learn to wait well. Every Christian is fully equipped with God’s Word and the Holy Spirit to be able to do so.
In our times or seasons of waiting let us proactively choose to spend time with God regularly, maintain an attitude of hope, continue to serve God, keep living life, reflect on God’s goodness, look for lessons from God, and resolve to never take matters into our own hands to try to speed up God’s process.
Remember that trusting God is a resolve to wait for God’s timing and not object to His process. It means living in contentment even as we wait.
And when you find yourself struggling to wait well, remember to take your feelings to God and pray for Him to redirect your mindset back to what you know His Word says.
I’ll leave you with a great example of how we should pray during our times of waiting:
Encourage someone else today by sharing: