Wisdom of History

Pandemic Wisdom: Praying and Waiting

As you wait for the Pandemic to recede, be prepared to spend a lot of time praying and waiting. Because you will need to apply this wisdom from the 27th Psalm: “Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart, and wait for the LORD,” (Psalm 27:14).

There are few things more important in life than praying and waiting.

Nevertheless, few of my prayers last over one minute. And I doubt I’ve ever sustained a prayer over two minutes. I pray at a “comic book” level.

To be sure, if I’m “relaxing”—such as when I used to jog before I broke my ankle in 2003—I often fall into a stream of consciousness.

As I jogged at dawn, my thoughts flowed from one thing to another, including brief prayers.

In that sense, I prayed for over an hour, while I experienced the dawn, savored the fresh air, and heard birds sing. I felt strength and optimism surge through me.

On other mornings, I stumbled in the darkness, felt an icy cold wind, heard cars racing close beside me, and did my best to ignore the pain in my feet.

Nowadays, my jogging days are over. Nevertheless, I sense the same strength and optimism when I rise before dawn, make a cup of hot coffee, and sit quietly on the patio of my house in Florida, reading my Bible.

I fall into a stream of consciousness. I experience the dawn. I savor the fresh air. I look out over a small lake. I love watching ducks paddling and birds singing, as they greet the dawn.

There’s something sacred about watching and feeling the start of something new. Whether it’s the dawn of a new day. Or the dawn of a new way of living—the Way of Jesus.

The first believers did not pray at my “comic book” level. This “group numbering about a hundred and twenty” “all joined together constantly in prayer” (Acts 1:15,14), sustaining an intensity of prayer akin to reading War and Peace, plus The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

They prayed constantly as they waited for the gift of the Holy Spirit to come upon them, as Jesus had promised (Acts 1:4-8).

It’s hard to wait.

I’m sure it was hard for those first believers to wait. They must have been as impatient as small children waiting to open their gifts on Christmas morning.

And it is probably even harder for Americans to wait. We gobble fast food. We demand instant credit. We break the speed limit to arrive a few minutes earlier. We flit from channel to channel on the TV. We crave instant gratification!

Like these first believers, we must learn to wait.

Waiting is the way we show we are dependent on the gifts God gives us—especially the gift of the Holy Spirit.

And waiting is the way we discipline ourselves to accept God’s authority to set the dates and times of events in our lives.

I learned this discipline while waiting for my ankle to heal when I broke it in 2003.

For several months, I could not walk up the stairs to the second floor of my house. Nevertheless, I had to get up and down the stairs at least once each day because the only shower was on the second floor.

To get upstairs from my temporary bed on the first floor, I had to use my arms to hoist myself from step to step. This was an exhausting, agonizing task. My overworked muscles ached as if I had the flu.

When I reached the second floor, I had to get off the floor and onto my crutches. I crawled to the low couch in my daughter’s bedroom. I lifted myself onto it. Then I collapsed for awhile, gasping and catching my breath.

One day (as I lay on the couch to catch my breath), I noticed something hanging on the wall that I’d never seen before. It was a little plaque with a cute drawing. It quoted this wisdom from the 27th Psalm:

Wait for the LORD;

   be strong and take heart

   and wait for the LORD.

                  (Psalm 27:14).

I must have always been in too much of a hurry before to notice this wisdom. And I was always too healthy before to heed this wisdom.

But now—like those disciples 2,000 years before—I had to learn to wait.

I had to accept the thorn in my flesh. I had to let God’s strength be made perfect in my weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:7-9).

I had to learn to wait. Be strong. Take heart. And then wait some more.

So, as you follow God’s plan for your life—and for our world—be prepared to spend a lot of time praying and waiting. Because you will need to learn the discipline to apply this wisdom from the 27th Psalm:

Wait for the LORD;

   be strong and take heart

   and wait for the LORD.

                  (Psalm 27:14).


This blog is based on my blog “Praying and Waiting” and pages 15-17 of my book,  Lighting the World.