Why pray if all we can do is wait for God to answer? Rachel teaches four actions God takes in the waiting period and shares her heart on prayers answered as “not now.”
Struggling with waiting on God to answer prayer? You’re not alone! Enjoy the fifth episode in the series, “Why Pray?” Check out the four actions God is taking while we are in the waiting room.
In this episode of the series, “Why Pray,” Rachel Wojo shares:
- four actions God is taking during the wait
- a personal answered prayer and unanswered prayer
- how to pray during the wait
God sees you. You have not been forgotten; He knows every hair on your head.
Hello and Welcome to episode 31 of the Untangling Life Podcast. I’m Rachel and this episode is number 5 in a series called Why Pray.
Why pray if all we can do is wait for God to answer? A precious woman named Rosie emailed me and asked that question. And it’s a tough one, I’ll admit.
There have been many times in my life when I was waiting for an answer to prayer. I’ve heard it said that God answers prayer in three ways. Yes. No. and Not now. We always know when God answers yes to prayer, right? It means change took place or provision was received. The issue was resolved, or the pain point was removed. I have experienced some really crazy yes answers to prayer in my lifetime. God has wowed me.
And most of the time, we know when God says no. It means things didn’t go in our favor, right? Someone else got the job, another family bought the house, and the proposal was declined. The door closed, maybe even slammed, in our face, and we knew it was a no answer to prayer. Very hard to handle.
Yes answers to prayer are pretty awesome. We rejoice, we are happy, and we can’t wait to share how God has worked in our lives.
No answers are painful. We struggle to understand, we feel confused, and it takes time to work through the next steps after a no.
But there’s a land in between the yes and no- it’s maybe even more difficult than the no, Today I wanted to focus on the “not now” answer to prayer. What do we do when there has been no firm yes, no firm no, but just an ambiguous land between?
In a previous series of the podcast, What You Need to Know by Heart, I shared from the book of Deuteronomy about what God wants us to remember and specifically, what Moses wanted the children of Israel to remember as they stood on the brink of the Promised Land. But before they came to this point, the edge of the wilderness, they wandered through it for 40 years. For 40 years, they waited for what they felt would be the ultimate answer to their prayers.
Exodus 2:23 explains the scenario.
During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. 24 God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. 25 So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them.
They cried out to the Lord. I can imagine what their cries were like. Ones of agony for their children. Groans of despair and heartache, loss and pain. They are in a waiting zone if there ever was one, right? Only God could move the heart of the king and in desperation, the children of Israel cried out to God for help. There are four points I want to make sure we notice about their cries. Four things that God did while they were in this waiting zone.
GOD HEARD THEIR CRY
First. God heard their cry, their groaning.
When you are waiting on God, you can be sure that he hears your prayer. If you are struggling to feel confident that God is listening to your call for help, that His heart is tuned to listen for your cry, then you’ll want to head back and listen to episode 28 of the podcast, entitled, “Is God Even Listening?” at the end of this episode. But know that God heard the agony of the children of Israel and he hears the cry of your heart today.
HE REMEMBERED HIS PROMISES
The next action after God heard them is that He remembered his promises. It’s not that he ever forgot his promises, but their cries caused a recollection, a recounting of his covenants with his people, with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.In Genesis 12, we find that God promised to bless Abraham with as many descendants as the stars in the sky. In Genesis 26, God told Isaac that he would bless him and be with him and keep the promises he made to his father, Abraham.
And Genesis 28: 13-15 shares the promise God made to Jacob“I am the LORD God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you”
Just as the Lord remembered his promises to his people and reflected on them, so does he keep his promises to us today. The Bible is full of God’s promises to us and one of the best things we can do in a season of waiting on God to answer prayer is to recall his promises. And to pray them back to him. Just a side note, if you look in the Women of the Word collection in the rachelwojo.com shop, you’ll find the Praying the Promises resource specifically designed to walk you through this exercise of faith.
So we know that God heard the cry of the children of Israel, we know that he recalled the covenant promises he made to their ancestors, and then this part of the passage is so precious to me.
GOD SEES YOU
God saw them. I shared this story on the podcast last November, but the Lord has prompted me to share it once more. There are always new listeners and so if you’ve heard this story, bear with me.
In March 2021, my husband came home from work to tell me some very unexpected news. He lost his job. I honestly considered it a blessing in disguise. We had been praying for two years that he would find another job and that God would take him out of the place he was working in. So I considered this termination to be God’s weird way of taking him out. However, I told myself this was a temporary glitch. I would have never dreamed that it would turn into an 8-month journey of total unemployment for him.. I’ve kept a journal of blessings and provisions from the Lord during this time and it will blow your socks off. One day soon, I plan to share how God has given our daily bread during this season. The entire journey truly is miraculous. But hold on to your hat, Friend, because this next story will blow your mind.
I need to preface this by laying out the facts a bit. God truly has miraculously provided for our family in multiple ways, through multiple avenues. His timing in that season was impeccable and may I say that his timing is always perfect, it’s just that sometimes we are hyper-aware to see Him at work. That’s what it means to rely on Him daily. It’s a privileged position. I’ve said over and over again that it is miraculous how our bills have been paid monthly. From the Holy Spirit prompting for me to create the 31 Days of Prayers for the Heart prayer card product line to work opportunities for me to gifts from others to beyond-belief circumstances, God has provided our monthly budget. We have been fed and clothed, and no one has gone without the basic necessities, though it has been tight. But we have needed to place our house payment on deferment and this is the lone thing at times that has caused doubt for me. You see, God gave us our house, to begin with. That’s another story for another time, but I know without a doubt that God gave us our home. He owns everything anyway, right? So several times throughout the last few months, I’ve held up our home to the Lord and reminded myself, “God, it’s yours.” This weight of being unable to pay our house payment has been the one thing that the enemy has tried to use to make me forget God’s promises. And I’ve hit my knees many nights in the middle of the night and early mornings, letting God know that I believe He is our Provider, and even if
We lost our home, I still believe He only ever wants the best for his children.
So last Tuesday, I was finishing up the dinner dishes after a marathon day of coaching writers and speakers when a few texts came in. This was almost 9 pm, and it was dark out. One of the texts was from a number I didn’t know. It read:
Rachel, you don’t know me but a friend has left a gift for you. Please go to your backyard and look for a yellow envelope underneath the green balance beam.
After reading this, I was unsure if I should even open the back door. I’m thinking: Should I grab my taser or? But after a moment, I thought, No, this friend must know us so I grabbed my shoes and headed out to the yard. Sure enough, there was a yellow envelope under the girls balance beam and I immediately brought it in and went to the garage where my husband was working on prayer card stands. With shaking hands, I opened the envelope and inside was a typed letter that read:
Matt, Rachel and Family,
“…the angel of the Lord found you in the wilderness.” Genesis 16:7
Our Lord SEES you (sees in capital letters). Nothing escapes His notice.
Know that this is His provision. It is a demonstration of His faithfulness, a reward for your faithfulness.
And there was also a bank envelope of cash. 49 $100 bills and 5 twenties.
Someone who did not want to be known gave us $5,000.
Matt and I stood in our garage, going, what in the world just happened?
We felt like we were in a movie. I didn’t know what to do except say thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Lord, for being our provider. Our sustainer. Our promise keeper. The One who sees us and provides in ways we can’t even wrap our heads around. And I know I’m going to cry when I share this, but whoever is listening to the sound of my voice right now, you must know this: God sees you. He sees every detail of your heartache, your pain, your situation. He knows how difficult the wait is. If you’ve ever felt overlooked or unseen, then you know how deep that pain resounds in a soul. Rejection is rigorous and repetitive. I want you to hear me loud and clear. God sees you. You have not been forgotten; He knows every hair on your head.
GOD IS CONCERNED ABOUT YOU
Then note what the Bible says when God saw His people in slavery, he was concerned. The verse I read to you is in the NIV. Listen to some of the other translations of this verse, Exodus 2:25:
New Living Translation
He looked down on the people of Israel and knew it was time to act.
English Standard Version
God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.
Holman Christian Standard Bible
God saw the Israelites, and He took notice.
On a personal note, I want to share that our family is still waiting also. My husband took a temporary job in November last year and praise the Lord, he is still working it now. He has another job he’s contracted for, but it has been months and we are waiting on it to come to fruition. Our home situation is in the works, but still not fully resolved. This week, I shared in an email to subscribers how I’ve felt the attack of the enemy this week. My husband and I were blessed to be able to steal away to the beach to celebrate our anniversary for a few days. It was glorious. We rested. We read. We prayed. We didn’t do much of anything. We drank 2 cups of coffee at breakfast and ate veggies and hummus for lunch and spent time together rejuvenating. But upon returning, we were slammed with a few big problems with the house, the van, my computer, even the day after I emailed the Rachel Wojo community that the podcast would be late, our internet service was unexpectedly out for almost an entire day. This week has been one of waiting and there are many pieces of our family’s lives and ministry that are in God’s waiting room.
I know that the Lord had a message for me to share with you this week. That message is that he hears your prayers, he knows the promises he has made to you, he sees you, every detail of you as his beautiful creation, he knows you are waiting and he is going to act in the perfect moment.
Exodus 2 closes and the Israelites are still in slavery, still crying out for help, they are still waiting for their miracle. But I want to encourage you to know that that was not the end of their story. They didn’t wait forever and although they couldn’t see it, God was acting on their behalf. You see Exodus 3 is a well-known story- God appeared in a burning bush to Moses. Although the Israelites weren’t privy to seeing the burning bush, clearly God was at work and moving while they were waiting for the prayers to be answered.
And so you can rest assured that somewhere God is burning in a bush for you today. While you wait, he is moving and orchestrating circumstances on your behalf, in preparation for the answer to the prayer you are waiting on. Don’t stop praying. Keep your eyes wide open, poised to see the waiting come to an end and your prayer answered.
ON MY DESK
This week on my desk, I have the In His Presence Bible Reading Plan & Journal which complements our community Bible Reading Challenge for May. If you are asking yourself how can I experience the presence of God, then you can join us by printing this journal at home or marking it up your device.
You can find this at: rachelwojo.com/shop. And as always, you’ll find tons of free resources at rachelwojo.com, including prayer journals, bible reading plans, and more.
Thanks so much for listening today. Until next time, God sees you and knows your need.