There is a phrase God uses all throughout the scriptures to describe the act of getting into his presence; he calls it “waiting on the Lord.” It’s another way to say “meeting with God.” Yet I’ve mostly heard this phrase used to mean waiting for an answer to prayer or for direction. We think of “wait” as “not moving forward; holding back, patiently waiting our turn.” But words often carry more than one meaning.
Scripturally, the phrase “waiting on the Lord” is more something to do, an action verb. It has to do with the act of worship. The word “wait” in Hebrew means “to look for, hope in, expect; to braid or twist together.” It’s something you’re actually doing, not waiting absent-mindedly in line.
Think of a waiter in a restaurant. He waits on tables. And if it’s your table, you hope it’s not the absent-minded waiting-for-you-to-leave definition! It’s his job, to actively wait tables. Hopefully he’s got the working definition - watching for eye contact, watching for what might be needed or wanted, ready to pounce into action. My dog definitely gets this active waiting thing; all ears, eyes, and muscles are trained on me as he attends to any movement or indication on my part. He even picks up on my mood or intention; what’s in my eyes.
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye. Do not be like the horse or like the mule, which have no understanding, which must be harnassed with bit and bridle, else they will not come near you.” Psalm 32:8-9
Oh, that we would be a generation skilled in waiting on the Lord, not so busy in all our self-imposed importance that he must force us to stop, and look at his face, but that we come running into his presence, humble, and eager to gaze long and wait.
Waiting on the Lord is a skill, a spiritual discipline to be developed. Seeking him, intentionally pursuing an awareness of him – this is waiting on the Lord. Unlike before the fall, meeting with him is not natural; it doesn’t just happen, which is why we’re told to press in, to be diligent. We’re told to pursue, to seek his face and follow hard and fast after him. He wants this kind of relationship with you. He wants it. He created you to be you, because he likes you. He chose the you-ness of you and has invited you to walk through life with him. Not just with biblical principles or with the church or with a moral code, but with him. He’s made all the reservations, taken care of everything, and now it’s up to you to respond to that.
There are seven points here, on meeting with God. This is not a formula, and it’s not exhaustive, but rather just some things to consider as you spend time seeking his presence.
Waiting on the Lord:
Believe that he is real and that He wants to communicate with you.
Have a healthy fear of a Holy God. He’s not your buddy; not your peer; he is altogether unlike us. We must have a healthy fear of a Holy God. Put yourself in your place. And come sincerely; seek God himself through His Word; not a contrived experience, or some spectacular manifestation of the Holy Spirit just for the novelty of it.
Set aside a block of time. Maybe ten minutes, maybe an hour, or a day.
Confess any known sin and give your life to him again.
Get into his word and worship him there. This is why daily devotions are so vital; to have a bible study that you do, or read a portion of a devotional book. If you use a devotional book, make sure you get into God’s words, too. Study his words or phrases; meditate on them/sit with them; look for his character in there; worship; thank him; maybe journal; use his own words to exalt him; look for biblical truth that you can pray back to him. Have relationship with him through his word.
Ask him for wisdom; and/or to show you something new and wonderful (Jeremiah 33:3). You can pour out your heart, if you need direction or an answer from him, or just are concerned about things. But ask him to speak into your life through his word. Most of the time we do all the talking, but he wants to get a word in, too!
Settle down and wait. Settle your mind and spirit from the constant thoughts and talking, and see if you can hear (sense) him speak to you in your thoughts, from his word, or in your spirit. Many times when Christians say, “the Lord spoke to me,” they mean that he impressed upon them an understanding – that he communicated without language, Spirit to spirit – in their inner man. He uses his written word to communicate, using whatever section of scripture you’re already in, “speaking” into your circumstances, problems, concerns, needs, or desires.
This waiting, for God himself to interact with you, may take some time and persistence. We are so used to perceiving from our physical senses (hearing, taste, touch, sight, smell), and always on the fast-track, drive-thru mode. But though this biblical meditation, or waiting on the Lord, is a sacrifice of time and though it may not come easy at first, developing the spiritual discipline of interacting with God personally will be the greatest joy of your life.
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