In his book, Adopted for Life, which I hope to review in the future, Russell Moore tells of a haunting image in a Russian orphanage. He recounts the unexpected silence as he entered a room full of infants. Instead of crying, they just rocked themselves silently in their cribs. They had long since learned that no one came when they cried, so they didn’t try anymore.
As disturbing as the reality of that situation in the orphanage is to me, even more disturbing was how it resounded with my own prayer life with my Father in heaven. Satan tempted me to identify with it. I have many long unanswered prayers. Satan says, “Nobody is coming to help you. Why do you bother? Just shut up and rock silently as an orphan in your misery.”
It is work to fight off that image, to believe in faith that “the prayers of a righteous person are powerful and effective” (James 5:16 NIV). So I was thankful for this prayer that we recited together in church last week.
All-patient Father, Gracious Spirit, Merciful Son, it is hard to wait:
to wait for things which seem to be good and right and glorifying to you;
to wait for wants and to wait for needs.
Sometimes it seems that You are silent.
Teach us, Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer,
to trust that when You seem silent, You are not inactive;
that when you seem silent, we are still a part of Your wonderful plan of redemption;
that when You seem silent, we can still trust You over and above everything else.
Deepen our trust in You.
Give us calm assurance in You.
Give us rest in You.
Prompt us to be more jubilant in hope,
and more patient in times of trouble, worry, and want.
Urge us—even burden us—
with a desire to go to You always in prayer with the confidence, persistence and hope of a beloved child.
Teach us, Lord, to wait with faith and expectancy.
And by this, grow us, fulfill, us change us, encourage us, and challenge us.
Give us this grace,
so that we might trust in and follow You alone.
We pray this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
My circumstances tell me that I’m an abandoned orphan who might as well rock silently in my misery, for no one is coming to help me. But the Word of God tells me something altogether different. I am God’s adopted child. Though one week of unanswered prayers seems like a hundred to me, a thousand years is like one day to God (2 Peter 3:8). What seems like excruciating delay in my view of time is still swift on God’s timetable. And though my prayers seem to be weak and ineffective, God says they are powerful and effective (James 5:16). They accomplish much! Waiting seems of little value to me. It’s drudgery. Wouldn’t it be more helpful to the kingdom to accomplish this stuff and get moving on to the next thing? God says in His Word that waiting is good and promises blessing on those who wait on Him. But even more than that, He gives me Psalms 69 to aid me in the struggle to wait. He equips me to stay engaged with Him by giving me this prayer of David’s.
1 Save me, O God!
For the waters have come up to my neck.
2 I sink in deep mire,
where there is no foothold;
I have come into deep waters,
and the flood sweeps over me.
3 I am weary with my crying out;
my throat is parched.
My eyes grow dim
with waiting for my God.
13 But as for me, my prayer is to you, O LORD.
At an acceptable time, O God,
in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness.
14 Deliver me
from sinking in the mire;
let me be delivered from my enemies
and from the deep waters.
15 Let not the flood sweep over me,
or the deep swallow me up,
or the pit close its mouth over me.
16 Answer me, O LORD, for your steadfast love is good;
according to your abundant mercy, turn to me.
17 Hide not your face from your servant;
for I am in distress; make haste to answer me.
18 Draw near to my soul, redeem me;
ransom me because of my enemies!
29 But I am afflicted and in pain;
let your salvation, O God, set me on high!
30 I will praise the name of God with a song;
I will magnify him with thanksgiving.
31 This will please the LORD more than an ox
or a bull with horns and hoofs.
32 When the humble see it they will be glad;
you who seek God, let your hearts revive.
33 For the LORD hears the needy
and does not despise his own people who are prisoners.
34 Let heaven and earth praise him,
the seas and everything that moves in them.
35 For God will save Zion
and build up the cities of Judah,
and people shall dwell there and possess it;
36 the offspring of his servants shall inherit it,
and those who love his name shall dwell in it.
I love the model in this lament. David’s cry to God is raw in its pain. Yet he ends with praise. My pastor pointed out in this Sunday’s sermon that lament is not a destination. God welcomes it, even encourages it. Yet it is not to be the place we park. It’s a gateway to trust and praise. And David models it well for us in Psalms 69.
Instead of seeing myself as the abandoned orphan crying out to no one, God reminds me that I am His precious child. Just as my children’s sense of time differs greatly from my own, so does mine from my Father in heaven. He may wait to provide, but He will provide. As I lament in my waiting, may I always end parked on trust in Him.