Stephanie Ehmke, MA, LPC
Waiting for the Sunrise
“In the morning, O Eternal One, listen for my voice; in the day’s first light, I will offer my prayer to You and watch expectantly for Your answer.”
Psalm 5:3 (The Voice)
Recently, on an early morning flight to Chicago, God used creation to teach me a few things regarding prayer.
The flight departed at 5:00 am while it was still dark out and the entire world seemed quiet. I was lucky to have a window seat, so my attention was drawn to the stillness outside when the Lord brought this imagery of watching expectantly for him to answer through the impending sunrise.
As time passed and I approached my destination, the sun began to rise. A ruddy orange color began fading into shades of blue as the emerging sunlight gently kissed the darkened sky, letting me know the sun was indeed coming. It felt like it was taking forever as I sat waiting in expectation for its glory to arrive. I could not wait for the moment when that first aluminous ray would finally pierce through the sky, blinding me for a moment with its arrival.
Sadly, I waited in vain. As the sunrise approached, so did my descent into Chicago where the city lights drowned out the sunrise that was coming. What a disappointment.
Pondering this event over the past few weeks, the Lord brought fresh meaning to what I experienced, allowing me to see it through the lens of prayer.
You see, the sun still rose that day in all its glory and elegance and I was able to witness parts of its arrival that I don’t normally get to see. So why was I disappointed?
Honestly? It didn’t happen the way I thought it would, the way I was anticipating, so I was disappointed. Ouch!
How many times is this the case in our prayer life? And how does this affect our ability to watch expectantly for God to answer our prayers?
I’ve sat with so many people over the years who confess bringing their big, bold prayers before the throne of God, and yet fail to watch expectantly for him to answer. I will even openly throw myself in that group at times.
But why? Why pray boldly for something and then not watch expectantly for God to answer?
Personally, I don’t believe we are not watching for God to answer. The problem is that we are only watching for him to answer in a certain way – the way we want. We let our preconceived notions of how God should answer, or act on our behalf, blind and deafen us from seeing and hearing his voice speaking into our situation.
I see this all the time in the counseling room. People share how they are praying for God to heal their broken marriage, save their relationship with a child, fix their financial troubles, or intervene in their health issues, and yet they take no steps toward the ways God is speaking regarding these prayers. They won’t go to marriage counseling or ask their spouse to go because that would cause a fight. They don’t want to set boundaries with their child, make a budget, or endure necessary treatment for their health because these things are too painful to endure.
But then the question still comes, “Why is God not speaking or answering my prayer?”
My answer most of the time is, “Maybe he is speaking, you’re just not listening.”
I try to be as gentle as possible when saying this because as I’ve shared, I too have struggled in this area. But still, I ask, because I know all the ways I’ve missed God’s voice in my own life in the past.
So what is the answer? How do we get to a place in our relationship with God where we let go of our preconceived notions about how he should answer and simply listen for the ways he is speaking?
The answer is… TRUST. We must build a relationship of trust with our Savior.
If we are going to allow ourselves to be brutally honest, we must admit that we don’t always want to listen for the ways God is speaking because in certain situations we don’t trust that his way is best. We may want to believe it, but often times we don’t. Fear takes over and we think we know far better than our Savior, so we don’t listen for his voice.
It is imperative we take the time to cultivate a relationship of trust with our Savior. In doing so we position ourselves to listen for his voice, believing that no matter what comes, we can trust the way he answers.
It is not an easy task and it does take time, but it is so worth it.
Think about one of the best relationships you have… do you have it in your mind?
Ok, how quickly did that relationship develop? My guess is that it took a long time; years, maybe even decades. The same is true with our Savior. Each day, year by year, we get to know him better, growing in intimacy and trust. As this relationship grows, we become more confident and secure in the fact that he does hear our prayers, which then allows us to watch expectantly for his answer.
Just as I knew the sunrise was coming, so too we can know that God hears our prayers. His answers may not be the way we anticipate, but we can trust they are coming in his time and will be his very best. Even when we think he should have answered our prayers differently, we can still trust in his faithfulness.
For Your Reflection…
How often do you let your preconceived notions of how God should answer your prayers get in the way of hearing his voice? Let me encourage you to let your guard down today and trust that however he answers is best. He can be trusted.