Shortly after I became a Christian at age seven, the children’s minister at my church discipled me for a while. Honestly, I don’t remember hardly anything I learned during that time since I was so young.

However, the one thing I do remember is the “stop light” illustration to how God answers prayers.

During that time of discipleship, I learned that there are three ways God answers prayers:
Yes = Green Light
Yes, but not right now = Yellow Light
No = Red Light

When God gives me a yellow light, it is so hard for me to be patient.

Especially if I don’t know if the yellow light will turn into a green or a red light in the end.

It’s hard to wait when I’ve been praying for a child to be healed from leukemia, and it seems like he will be, but then he dies in the end.

It’s hard to wait to meet my future spouse.

Hard to wait to find out if the school I wanted to attend would accept me.

Hard to wait to be offered a new babysitting job, when I really could use the money.

Related: How to Endure a Season of Wait

Waiting can be so hard, especially when it feels like God hasn't heard our prayers. Here are 4 things we can do when God says "wait."

Zechariah and Elizabeth of the Bible received a yellow light from God.

{Their story can be found in Luke 1:5-25.}

Elizabeth was the cousin of Mary, the mother of Jesus. She and her husband, Zechariah, “were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. But they had no child because Elizabeth was barren and they were both advanced in years” (vs 6-7).

Zechariah was a priest, and one day when he went to the temple, he saw an angel.

The angel gave him great news: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John” (vs 13).

Let’s pause right there for a second.

The angel said, “your prayer has been heard.” I’m not a Greek scholar, so I don’t know if the word “prayer” here is technically singular or plural. We don’t know if Zechariah prayed once twenty years ago for a son and then gave up, if he prayed every day, or if he had just prayed that day.

However, regardless of when he prayed, his prayer was heard. And now, after all those years, God was finally giving him an answer.

I wonder if Elizabeth and Zechariah ever doubted that God heard their prayer.

I know that I sometimes wonder if my prayers get lost in a sea of requests when it seems like it’s been ages since I’ve heard from God. In my head I know that He hears every prayer, it’s just sometimes hard to believe it in my heart.

There is a purpose to the waiting.

God gave Zechariah and Elizabeth a yellow light for years, not because He was too busy for them or had too many other people to give children too, but because He knew exactly what His plan was for them.

You see, Zechariah and Elizabeth’s baby was going to be really special.

The angel told Zechariah that his child would “turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared” (vs 16-17).

God gave Zechariah and Elizabeth a yellow light for years because He knew exactly the right time to give them a son.

Their baby was going to prepare the way for His own Son, and so he needed to be born at just the right time.

Waiting can be so hard, especially when it feels like God hasn't heard our prayers. Here are 4 things we can do when God says "wait."

Four things to do when God says “Wait.”

Waiting for the pizza delivery guy is hard. Even if the restaurant has a “30-minute delivery guarantee,” it’s still hard to wait because you’re hungry and really want that pizza.

But at least when you’re waiting for pizza, you know that, yes, it will eventually come. {Unless you’re Larry the Cucumber waiting for the Pizza Angel delivery guy, in which case, I’m sorry…}

When you don’t know if what you’re waiting for will even happen or not, it’s so much harder to wait. You wonder and worry and play out scenarios in your head. {At least, that’s what happens to me.}

So here’s a list of four things we can do when God says “wait.”

1. Have faith that God has a plan.

Waiting is really hard when we have a lack of faith in our God. When we wonder if He really does know what He’s doing. If He really does have a plan for our lives. If He really has heard our prayers.

Jeremiah 29:11 states “‘I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future’.”

That’s nice and all by itself, but let’s give it some context.

Jeremiah was writing to the people of Judah, telling them that they were soon going to be in captivity for 70 years. Not a happy message, if you ask me.

Yet even in the captivity, God had a plan. “This is what the Lord says: ‘When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place’.” -Jeremiah 29:10

The same is true in our lives. God has a plan, even in what may seem like 70 years of waiting.

2. Worship

“For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the LORD made the heavens.”
-1 Chronicles 16:25-26

Here’s the thing, when we’re so focused on the object of our waiting, it is so, so, soooo easy to turn whatever it is into an idol.

Be it a future husband, a job, a child, or even pizza, if we long for it more than we long for Jesus, it’s an idol.

God is greater than all those other things. Heck, He CREATED those things.

Instead of being impatient toddlers waiting desperately for our mommies to give us cheerios (remind me to tell you that story someday), we should praise the One who created food in the first place.

So while we wait, let us worship our God who created all things.

3. Learn to be content.

Haha, this is easier said than done.

I’m not going to spend much time on this point, as I’ve already talked about contentment a LOT on this blog. But in short, being content with where we are now will make it so much easier to wait for something in the future.

I imagine how hard it must have been for Elizabeth and Zechariah to see people they knew having children when they desperately wanted a child too. It must have been hard for them to be content, just as it’s hard for us to be content.

Related: The Secret to Being Content, A Battle Strategy for Discontentment, and 7 Bible Verses for When You are Struggling with Discontentment

4. Pray

Yes, I’m sure you’ve prayed about whatever it is you are waiting for before. In fact, if you’re waiting for God to give you an answer and you’re stuck at a yellow light, I’m most certain that you’ve already prayed.

However, have you prayed about how hard it is for you to wait?

I’m not saying this will make the waiting process any easier. This probably won’t even speed up whatever it is you’re waiting for. But, I am saying it will help your relationship with Jesus.

Jesus should be our #1 best friend. And we tell our best friends everything. So thus, we should tell Jesus everything too. Even the things that we don’t particularly like… as in Him having us wait for X, Y, and Z.

Trust me, He’s big enough to handle our frustrations.

Remember that story I mentioned a while back about Zechariah and Elizabeth?

Well, sure enough, God did send them a baby. And that baby grew up to be John the Baptist, the one who prepared the way for Jesus’ ministry.

God knew what He was doing when He waited to answer Zechariah and Elizabeth’s prayers. And He knows what He’s doing when He waits to answer ours.

If this post encouraged you, you’ll enjoy my eBook, Single Conversations. Find out more.

2 thoughts on “4 Things to do When God says “Wait.”

  1. Annette

    Beautifully wrote … God bless you! Lots of things to think about while waiting for my prayers to be answered by God who loves me and has an amazing plan for my life!


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