Have you ever prayed for something, only to see the deadline for your prayer request come and go with no reply? I have. Actually, it feels like I’ve been doing that a lot lately - which is why I was encouraged when my Bible reading this morning took me to 1 Samuel 13.
If you’re not familiar with that part of the Bible, it tells the story of King Saul facing an overwhelming battle against the Philistines - who were the sworn enemies of the Israelites. Saul’s army was outnumbered, and outarmed, and so he sent word for the prophet Samuel to come and make the offerings necessary to secure the Lord’s victory in battle. But Samuel took his time getting there. The Bible doesn't tell us why, we just know that Samuel delayed. And the longer he delayed, the more desperate Saul became. Finally, Saul got tired of waiting, and so he went ahead and made the offerings himself. He wasn’t a priest, which meant he was disobeying God’s instructions by making the offerings. But he did it anyway - after all, the fate of Israel hung in the balance, so someone had to do it.
The result? Saul’s impatience led to disobedience - which led to him losing his crown. And as I read that story this morning I was reminded of how often I do the same thing. There are just way too many times when I take matters into my own hands when God is slow to answer my prayers. It’s not that I want to be disobedient; it’s more that I just assume God’s lack of an answer means He wants me to handle things myself. But Saul’s story reminded me that’s not what God wants. Instead, I think God delays answering our prayers to test us. He wants to see what’s more important to us: our obedience, or our survival.
I think if we’re honest, we’ll admit that our lives are filled with these little acts of impatience and disobedience. We pray, but then, like the prophet Samuel, God takes His time. And so our deadlines pass, and we think God has left us out to dry. Or we think that maybe our prayers weren’t “on target” enough. But what’s really happening is that we’re focusing on OUR deadlines - not God’s. And that’s a problem because the Bible makes it abundantly clear that we are to “wait on God.”
The reality is, we don’t live in a “waiting” culture. But the other reality is that God’s Kingdom is exactly that. So today, let’s be obedient to His command to wait for Him. No matter what deadlines we face, let’s hang on to faith - trusting that the answer will come, and it will be right on time.