Let’s face it: most people do not want to wait. In fact, I do not know anyone who enjoys waiting. Yet, we wait very often and in many circumstances. Waiting is not fun, and some may say that it is boring.
Here are some examples of things that make us wait:
- We wait in line to board a bus, “trotro,” train, airplane, and other forms of transportation.
- We wait in line to enter sports stadia or arenas and other entertainment places.
- We wait for a table at restaurants, and then wait to be served.
- We wait in line at clinics, hospitals and other healthcare facilities to see doctors and other healthcare providers.
- We wait to obtain laboratory test results.
- We wait to cross the street if we are walking.
- We wait in traffic, at stop signs, and traffic lights, if we are driving.
- We wait in line to cast our votes in elections, and wait for the results.
- We wait to see politicians and public officials at their offices.
- We wait to receive payments or salaries for the work we have already done.
- Students wait a long time to obtain results of certain exams.
- Some people wait in line to see their pastors.
According to various U.S. surveys compiled by Reference, the average American spends time waiting in various circumstances, including the following selected areas:
- 20 minutes each day for bus or train (Timex survey)
- 32 minutes each time they go to see a doctor (Timex survey)
- 28 minutes in security lines whenever they travel (Timex survey)
- 13 hours annually waiting on hold for customer service (Time survey)
- 38 hours each year waiting in traffic (Atlantic survey)
- 37 billion hours each year by Americans waiting in line (New York Times survey)
(“How Much Time of an Average Life Is Spent Waiting?” Retrieved September 18, 2020 from https://www.reference.com/science/much-time-average-life-spent-waiting-7b315c05172d2b4d).
The waiting time or idle time would be much longer in developing countries due to relatively large number of people using limited infrastructures, facilities, and service providers.
Because we wait very often, people have found ways to cope with the idle time. In the good old days, people read books, newspapers, magazines or talked to people near them while they waited. Today, because of Smartphones and other hi-tech devices, people are able to pass the time by browsing the Internet, playing games and doing various fun tasks with phone Apps, talking to family and friends on the phone, and ignoring everyone else near them.
Waiting may not be bad at all times. In one of his farewell messages to the apostles before he was taken up to heaven, Jesus commanded them as follows: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:4-5 NIV). A few days later, the apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.
Note that Jesus commanded the apostles to wait. Of all the things Jesus could have commanded them to do or not to do before they received the Holy Spirit, he said they should wait. There may be some benefits to waiting after all.
Waiting tests commitment, and endurance, and patience. Certain things in life are worth waiting for. Children, for example, cannot wait to grow old or wait for Christmas, but they wait. Adults cannot wait to be successful in various ways, but we wait. Waiting slows us down a little and provides time for sober reflection on many things, including appreciation for the reason why we may be waiting.
Among other acts, the apostles used their waiting time to join together constantly in prayer and to choose Matthias to replace Judas as one of the twelve apostles (Acts 1:12-26).
It would appear that during that time, the apostles were happier and did not need to worry too much about praying. After Jesus was crucified and before he resurrected, the apostles were very sad and in fear of their lives because the Messiah whom they had trusted to deliver them had been killed and it seemed all the hard work they had done in following Jesus had been wasted. After the resurrection, however, they were more confident, victorious, and happier; and more so when they saw Jesus ascend into heaven with a promise to come back and take them home. Yet, they prayed constantly.
The joining together constantly in prayer was an exemplary act of the apostles worth following when we also have to wait. We should pray constantly, in good times and in bad times. We should all make time to pray, alone or in groups, but many people think that they do not have enough time to do so. One way to catch up on our prayers is to develop the habit of praying whenever we are waiting for something or someone and it is safe and convenient to pray.
Silent prayer, honestly and sincerely offered, would go a long way. For example, Hannah, whose womb had been closed, was praying one day and her priest Eli thought she was drunk because “as she kept on praying to the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard” (1 Samuel 1:12-13 NIV). Thereafter, Hannah gave birth to a child who grew up to become the Prophet Samuel. We can pray the way Hannah did, with our hearts, even without moving our lips, especially when we are in public.
Apart from the opportunity to meditate and communicate with the Lord, prayers have a calming effect on us while waiting at a clinic or hospital to see a doctor, obtain a laboratory test results or news about the condition of a loved one on admission; or on students waiting for results of exams etc.
The next time you have to wait for something or someone, do not be angry or distressed. Consider waiting as an opportunity to commune with the Lord. With billions of hours wasted each year as waiting time or idle time worldwide, if we could use a small fraction of it to pray and meditate, it would make a huge difference in our individual and collective relationships with God. Prayer does not require the use of any external device. However, if you have a Smartphone or pocket Bible, you may open the Bible and read that as well for a mini communion or fellowship with God. Waiting with prayers is a smart way to stay connected with the Lord.
Prayer is the key. May God grant us the grace to seek Him daily through our prayers.
Dr. Daniel Gyebi, Attorney-at-Law, Texas, U.S.A., and Founder, PrayerHouse Ministry, Kumasi, Ghana.
PrayerHouse Ministry is dedicated to providing a quiet facility for Christians to pray individually by themselves without any intermediary priest, pastor or any other person. This is a free service. No money is demanded or accepted. One facility is located at Kyerekrom / Fumesua, near Building and Road Research Institute Offices, one mile off the Kumasi-Accra Road and next to a house called Grace Castle. If you are interested, please contact Agnes at 054-7498653. Another is located at Kantinkyiren, at the junction of Kantinkyiren and Konkori, off the Kumasi-Obuasi Road, branching left at Trede junction. Contact Kwadwo at 020-8768461 / 0246-989413.