A woman looking up.

What to Do When You Are Waiting on God

God gave Sarah a BIG promise.  

After many childless years and many heartbroken tears, God told her through Abraham, He would bless them with a son, and she would be the mother of many nations.  

Hearing God’s promise must have made her so happy. But then the months passed by. Then the years. And then the decades.  

And somewhere along the way, Sarah lost her hope.   

One day three men came to visit the couple (many scholars believe these were angels or God himself). And while Sarah was in the tent, she overheard one of them say to Abraham that they would return in a year and she would have a child.  

And she laughed.  

But this was not joyous laughter. This was the bitter laughter of disbelief. The angry snicker of disappointment and broken dreams. The sarcastic chuckle of a hardened heart that doubted God would ever answer her prayers.  

Why does God delay in answering our prayers? 

Just as muscles need to be broken in order to grow stronger. God sometimes allows a delay in our life to help our faith grow stronger. Because when we realize we have no control; we are forced to trust the One who is really in control.  

God can see our past, present, and future all at once. He knows how our life intersects and interacts with everyone on the planet. And because He has a greater perspective than we do, He knows exactly how everything is going to work out.  

Sarah didn’t understand God’s plan. When she laughed that day, God asked her two questions. The first question was “Why did she laugh?” And the second was, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?”  

God called her out on her distrust. And then He gently reminded her that nothing was too hard for him.  

She was looking at her situation from a human perspective. But God saw the bigger picture. He knew her story wasn’t just about her. He knew He would use her story to bring Him glory by showing the power of God to the entire world. 

And to inspire and encourage millions of people for years to come.   

waiting on God1

What does the Bible say about waiting? 

All throughout the Bible God says that waiting is for our good. It helps us stay focused on Him. It encourages our faith to grow. And it helps us keep things in perspective.  

What is the Hebrew word for “wait”? 

I love this verse which reads:  

“They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”  

-Isaiah 40:31 ESV

In this verse, the Hebrew word for wait is “qavah” which means “to wait, hope for, look, expect, and to gather”.  

In our culture, the word “wait” is often considered a passive word. We wait in the drive-thru line. Or at the doctor’s office.  

But “qavah” is not a passive word. It is an active word. It means to wait actively with anticipation. To hopefully wait for God to act.  

It is not like the passive waiting of someone in a long line at Starbucks. It is more like the active waiting of a pregnant mother.

As a mother waits for her child’s birth over 9 months she doesn’t just sit passively on the couch.  Instead, she reads books on parenting. She buys supplies and sets up the nursery. She goes to all her prenatal appointments, watches what she eats, and takes her vitamins.  

She is actively waiting in hopeful anticipation for what is to come.  

Consequences of not waiting on God.  

Years before those three men visited Sarah and Abraham, Sarah had decided to take matters into her own hands. She gave her maidservant, Hagar, to Abraham as she figured she could have children through her servant. (See Genesis 16 .) 

However, when Hagar did get pregnant this became a source of strife between the two women. Their relationship would never be the same.  

And it ended up causing even more heartache for Sarah.  

Often when we refuse to wait on God and try to take matters into our own hands, our actions have unintended and disastrous consequences. We might end up damaging relationships, costing ourselves financially, or getting in over our heads with a situation we weren’t ready for.  

This is why the Bible encourages us to wait. Because God sees things we can’t see. 

So, He knows what He is doing.  

God’s timing is good. Even when He asks us to wait.

Benefits of waiting on God. 

While not waiting on God has disastrous consequences when we do choose to trust Him and wait, we reap the benefits.  

  • We learn that we really can trust God.  
  • That He has our best interests in mind.
  • And we grow in our relationship with Him.  

Flowers and weeds grow quickly but they do not last. A tree grows slowly and yet it can survive for many years. Your life is not supposed to be like a flower or weed, it is supposed to be like a tree.   

The best things in life take time.  

Trust God. He is using this waiting season to make you stronger. And to grow your life into something which will stand against the test of time.  

Picture of waves crashing and quote, "Trust God even when He makes you wait."

What to do when God makes you wait.  

Everyone has to wait at some point in their life. And yet knowing what to do in those seasons makes it easier to endure them. So, when God asks us to wait, there are three things we should do.  

1) Feed your faith.  

Too often we are so busy with everything going on in our life that we don’t pay attention to God. His still small voice gets drowned out in all the noise.  

But a season of waiting encourages us to pay attention to Him.

By praying more, our souls will find comfort and rest in Him. As we worship God with songs of praise, we will find it hard to keep a smile off our face. And as we dig into God’s word more, we find encouragement and reminders of His great promises to us.  

Studies have shown that only 1-3 days in God’s word a week makes little difference in our lives. However, when we spend more than 4 days in God’s word, they have found that feelings of loneliness, anger, bitterness, and more were drastically reduced.   

While we wait, it would be wise to feed our faith.  

2) Trust His plan. 

Waiting is hard. We won’t do it perfectly. We will have moments of doubt. Moments of grief. And even moments of disbelief.  

But if we choose to keep coming back to trust. If we keep reminding ourselves of God’s promises to us. If we keep walking towards God in those moments, we will find peace even in the waiting.  

We may not always understand but we can choose to trust God’s plan. 

And as we choose to trust God with our dreams for the future, we will be in a better position to honor Him and enjoy our present moments.  

3) Wait with hope.  

We can trust God’s timing as we learn to wait the “qavah” way, which as stated earlier, means to “wait with hope!”  We can choose to look forward with anticipation for what the Lord is going to do. To move from crying out, “Why me?” to declaring in faith: 

“I can’t wait . . .  to see how God is going to move!” 

A Prayer for Patience While Waiting  

When you are in a season of waiting use this prayer for patience to help you remember to lean on God no matter how long you have to wait!

Dear Heavenly Father,

I desperately need you now. You have seen my tears as day after day goes by and nothing seems to change. You have heard all the heartfelt prayers I have lifted up to you year after painful year. You have seen my aching heart worn down with discouragement.

You know how I am struggling right now. With doubt. Anger. Disappointment. Misery. Bitterness. And so much more.

But I want to trust You.

So please help me, Lord. Help me remember You have a plan that is greater than my human heart can understand. Help me remember nothing is too hard for you and my story is far from over yet.

Help me remember You are God and I am not. That You are hard at work even when I cannot see what you are doing. Remind me that You see me. You love me. And You know what is best for me.

Help me to lean into You when the waiting gets hard. To feed my faith. To trust Your plan. And to wait with hope for the day You WILL turn my bitter tears into joyous laughter.

In the precious name of Jesus,


(Download the FREE prayer printable below!)

Woman looking up while on city street with quote "What to do when you are waiting on God."
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What Does It Mean to Wait on the Lord? 

To wait on the Lord means not trying to take matters into our own hands. It is choosing to stop looking at our constantly changing circumstances. And instead, keep our eyes fixed on the One who never changes. 

After a long time of waiting on the Lord, and one year after those men showed up at her home, Sarah held her answer to prayer in her arms. The Lord had told her to name her baby boy Isaac, which means “God has brought me laughter”. 

It’s almost like God wanted her to give the baby this name to remind her that He had brought her from the bitter laughter of a broken heart to the joyous laughter of a restored heart that had fully experienced God’s faithfulness. 

And every time she said that child’s name she would be reminded of the fact that God had answered her prayers. 

Keep feeding your faith. Keep trusting His plan. And keep waiting with hope.  

God WILL answer your prayers.  

It is only a matter of time. 

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Picture of a prayer for patience in the waiting.

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