What Christian has not found himself fighting the temptation of impatience as he waits for the Lord’s hand to move in a particular trial or situation? Sharing some “gleanings from Paul on prayer,” A.W. Pink reminds of the importance of waiting upon God’s timing.
It is extremely painful not to wait patiently, for it points out our unwillingness to accept God’s timing, which is really a spirit of insubordination. Fretful impatience takes issue with God’s authority and calls into question His goodness. Solemn indeed are the sins of this nature recorded in the Word. “When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him” (Ex. 32:1). And Aaron yielded to their evil demand. When the servant of God bade Saul tarry seven days at Gilgal until he should come and offer sacrifices and show the king what he should do (1 Sam. 10:8), because the prophet did not appear when Saul expected, he impatiently and impiously took matters into his own hand, and in consequence lost his kingdom (1 Sam. 13:8-14). Fearful also was the wickedness of that king who asked, “Should I wait for the LORD any longer?” (2 Kings 6:33). He grew weary of tarrying for the Lord and opposed his own will against Him.
Let the reader perceive what an evil thing it is not to quietly wait the Lord’s time. Once we give way to a spirit of impatience, we open the door to many dangers. Those who do not tarry for God take things into their own hands, which is not only highly dishonoring to the Lord but attended with disastrous consequences for themselves. Thus Abraham found it. At the outset the Lord declared, “I will make of thee a great nation” and “Unto thy seed will I give this land” (Gen. 12:2, 7). Years later, when the patriarch told the Lord, “I go childless,” he assured him, “He that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir” (Gen. 15:2, 4). Nevertheless, because Sarah remained barren, Abraham yielded to her suggestion of obtaining a son by Hagar. Though that carnal plan resulted in the birth of Ishmael, Abraham’s impatience was a source of domestic trouble for years to come. Impatience leads to setting aside God’s means and employing our own: “They said, There is no hope: but we will walk after our own devices” (Jer. 18:12). Alas, many organizations are, with their worldly methods, doing so today.
Pink also reminds that it is only by the grace of God that we can wait patiently upon Him. Surely God alone can direct our hearts:
“The Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patient waiting for Christ.” There is both a general and a particular “directing.” In His Word God has declared His mind to us through His statutes: “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Micah 6:8). Yet, so intractable are we by nature that something more is necessary before any of us renders to God His due, namely, the inward operations of the Holy Spirit who teaches us how to apply the rule to the details of our lives and in the orderly exercises of our graces. God can direct our hearts, incline our minds, move our wills, without any violence done to our free agency. He will do so in answer to fervent prayer, yes, He has already begun to do so if our prayers are sincere. These prayers are really the breathings of holy desires which He has worked in us by the efficacy of His grace, by making attractive and desirable the duties to which He calls us.
A.W. Pink, “Gleanings from Paul on Prayer,” Reformed Perspectives Magazine 14, no. 32.