Recently I joined a new prayer group. I committed for several reasons, the most passionate being I want to move beyond what I know into “more.” Prayer had begun to feel like tracks worn and hollowed from use. Something fresh was in order.

At the close of the second session, the leader readied us for a Lectio Divina (slow reading of Scripture with pauses in between for reflection). Feeling anticipation and confidence I closed my eyes, ready to listen. The two verses were well known to me.

To my surprise, she began with two questions. After the first she paused. I engaged, waited. Then she asked the second question. Paused. I engaged then waited. Then she read the verses for the first time. Long pause. I engaged and my mind started to flit. Through the ensuing readings, pauses, questions, and more pauses, my bodied squirmed and my mind evaluated. “We walked around that verse from every angle. I don’t think we left a stone unturned!” Can you feel my astonishment? Consternation? Frustration?

If only those feelings were confined to a single time of prayer. But they’re not.

Someone told me that waiting is an exceedingly useful tool in the hands of God.

Oh, how we wait: for it to be over, for good news, for a way to move forward, for someone to see us, love us, respect us. The list goes on a very long way. We would almost never choose to wait.

But in God’s hands, waiting becomes a great revealer of what we don’t yet know. What we don’t yet understand. It gives us an opportunity to become aware, to recognize, to learn, and to change…to become.

Circling back to the prayer time and feeling unsettled about the whole thing, I began to wonder what I had missed. Something obvious, I was sure. Several moments later I burst out laughing. I had been so focused on “getting something” from the verses and “learning from” the process that I missed an important part of the equation…my response. All those pauses revealed a heart that has trouble sitting still, trouble trusting the process, and trouble believing that God is not concerned about my forward movement so much as the state of my heart.

I wonder what waiting feels like to us as we enter this Christmas season? For what are you waiting? How are you waiting? With whom are you waiting? What might Jesus have to say to you as He waits with you?


By R. S. Thomas


Moments of great calm,

Kneeling before an altar

Of wood in a stone church

In the summer, waiting for the God

To speak; the air a staircase

For silence; the sun’s light

Ringing me, as though I acted

A great role. And the audiences

Still; all that close throng

Of spirits waiting, as I,

For the message.


Prompt me, God;

But not yet. When I speak,

Though it be you who speak

Through me, something is lost.

The meaning is in the waiting.



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