Need information quick? Just grab your phone and do a search. Didn’t plan ahead for dinner? Toss something in the Instapot. Forget about patience, we live a world where Prime shipping seems to take too long. Waiting on the little things is an inconvenience, so what happens when we have to wait on the big things?
When the bills are stacking up because a new job hasn’t come along, a family situation is causing great heartache, or a loved one faces an illness, we pray for answers. We know God hears our prayers, but it’s hard when the clock is ticking yet He hasn’t shown us the answer. Sometimes he wants us to wait. In the new Bible study I’m Waiting, God: Finding Blessing in God’s Delays, by Barb Roose, she helps readers build patience until God’s plan comes to fruition.
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Waiting on God Bible Study
In her four-week waiting on God Bible study, Barb Roose invites us to explore the stories of four women in the Bible who had to wait on God. Each grappled with unanswered prayers:
- One woman wondered if God loved her or had forgotten about her. (Hannah)
- One woman’s life took a tragic and unexpected turn. (Ruth)
- One woman suffered for over a decade with an embarrassing medical condition. (the unnamed bleeding woman)
- One woman prayed, but God said “no” to her prayer. (Martha)
For anyone who has ever felt anxious, angry, discouraged or depressed because God isn’t giving you what you want, these stories will breathe fresh hope and practical next steps in life.
As a reforming control lover, Roose mixes in her personal stories of learning how to wait for God during long seasons of unanswered prayers, family difficulties and challenging times in ministry. She knows from experience that taking matters into your own hands when you’ve run out of patience can make the situation worse. Together participants will discover there is goodness and blessing to be found in times of waiting, including a closer relationship with God than they would have ever dared to dream.
“Years ago, a crisis emerged in our home. At first, I tried to fix it. I failed. Then I prayed for God to make it go away. That went unanswered. So I prayed harder. The situation grew worse. Was God angry with me? Why wasn’t He answering my prayer? I wrestled with God, begging Him to end our struggle and heal my suffering,” Roose writes. “In the midst of that unanswered prayer, I discovered God’s better blessing for my life. When I stopped panicking and started focusing on being in His presence, God filled the parts of my heart broken by pain and suffering with what I needed most, which was more of Him. Experiencing the presence of God is greater than the good things that I prayed for, and that has been the best blessing of my life.”
I’m Waiting, God can be used as an individual or group study. Recognizing time limitations may be a challenge for participants, the study has been designed with a flexible format. The shorter four-week waiting on God Bible Study is ideal for in-between or busy times for groups. Each week offers three days of Bible study homework, plus two optional days for more personal reflection to be enjoyed as time or energy permits. The participant workbook includes group session guides, discussion questions, prayers, video viewer guides, and leader helps at the back of the book. There is also a DVD, available separately, for group use with 20-minute teaching sessions.
Waiting For God: An Interview With Author Barb Roose
I had the privilege of interviewing author Barb Roose, here is what she had to say about waiting for God and finding the blessings as we wait on his timing.
Waiting For God, What Does It Mean?
Q: What is it about waiting that often reverts us back to toddler-like tantrums?
All my kids went through that crazy toddler phase when they would fall out on the floor screaming when I didn’t let them have something they wanted. What always amazed me was that those little girls were so focused on the one thing they couldn’t have that they forget everything they already had to enjoy.
Over the years, I’ve kicked up my own fuss when God hasn’t given me what I’ve wanted. There were times when I crossed my arms and pouted about not getting that bigger house, the job that would solve some financial issues, or why God hadn’t fixed the addiction issue that was breaking our hearts. I might not have thrown myself on the floor, but there were times when I didn’t want to pray or I’d withhold my worship because I felt like God was being unfair.
However, during some of my long seasons of unanswered prayers, I’ve learned how to halt my tantrum long enough to look around and see what God has already blessed me with. As I’ve learned to embrace a life of gratitude, God’s gifted me a multitude of better blessings that have far exceeded anything that I could have ever asked for.
Q: An author writes about what she knows or needs to hear. Can you share an example of when you were waiting out God’s timing for what felt like forever?
For several years, I prayed for a full-time job to open up at the church where I worked part-time. I looked forward to paying the monthly bills without worrying if there would be enough money to pay them.
Finally, I was offered a full-time job. However, the Great Recession devastated our automotive industry community. The loss of jobs led to reduced weekly giving at our church. In addition to some staff layoffs, my full-time position was postponed indefinitely. Disappointed, I was really angry with God. I was so tired of figuring out how to make ends meet month after month. After my big feelings calmed down, I kept trusting God to make ends meet and stayed faithful on my job.
Almost a year later, a different full-time job for me – a promotion and substantial pay raise. It was a better job than the one I’d gotten angry about losing the year before! While there were many years of sacrificing for what God was calling us to do, he took care of my family during those difficult days until times got better.
Q: We often blame our impatience on the fact we live in a world of technology where everything is at our fingertips, but as humans, haven’t we always had that problem?
We live in an “Insta-Everything” world that makes it possible for us to get what we want by the press of a button. Hungry? Order delivery from Postmates. Run out of toilet paper? Amazon can be a hero and deliver the next day.
Even though technology highlights how much we love speed, human nature has always been to get what we want, no matter the cost. The tension is that when we try to fix or force solutions, not only do we miss out on God’s best, but we often wreck our human relationships.
In Genesis, Abraham and Sarah live with an unanswered prayer for a child. Even though she knows what God has promised, Sarah tires of waiting and cooks up a scheme. Impatience does result in a baby—and broken relationships and a lot of bitter feelings, too.
I’ve been like Sarah and got impatient with God. However, I bear the Jesus-healed scars of my foolishness. I’ve learned this: When I try to push my way out of a waiting room, I will cause pain and problems in other people’s lives.
Waiting On God’s Timing
Q: What spiritual issues are usually being tested in us while we are in sitting in the waiting room of life?
Waiting room seasons of life challenge what we believe about God and how much fear and control are operating in our lives. Those long, frustrating days may prompt questions such as “Does God still love me?”, “Did I do something wrong?”, “Why is God answering their prayers, but not mine?” or “How long do I have to live like this, God?”
For more than a decade, our family felt the effects of a growing addiction issue. At first, I prayed, but my prayers were all about asking God to deal with the addiction because I wanted my happy, mostly pain-free and problem-free life back.
As the years went on, the effects of addiction began suffocating our daily lives. I stopped caring about getting my happy life back, I needed God’s power, presence and His peace to just help me get through the day, sometimes, even just the hour in front of me. Those last few years allowed me to discover there was nothing I needed more than God, even as I watched the once-lovely life I had fall apart and disappear. Yet, in God I found all that I needed.
Q: How is I’m Waiting, God: Finding Blessing in God’s Delays, your new Bible study, set up to be used? What other resources are available?
As a Bible study teacher who loves creating experiences for women in every season of life, I’m excited that I’m Waiting, God is designed with a flexible format to fit everyone’s schedule. This is a four-week study, and each week offers three days of Bible study homework, plus two optional days for more personal reflection to be enjoyed as time or energy permits.
I believe that application is a key component of effective Bible study, so I’ve created weekly personal reflection exercises and practical tools. Additionally, each day’s study includes a daily gratitude exercise and lots of life-transforming scripture to set readers up to experience a-ha moments so they can see and experience God’s blessing, even as they’re waiting on God to answer their prayer.
For those who like video, there is a separate teaching DVD for each of the four weeks. Best of all, anyone can lead a group study because the facilitator’s guide is been included in the study workbook.
One more bonus! If readers would like additional encouragement, they can sign up for “The Patience Path,” a 30-day email devotional that I’ve created to go along with the study. To sign up, go to barbroose.com/patiencepath.
Q: You write, “This journey looks more like a winding path instead of a formulaic three-step plan. Here’s the unique twist: your path to patience is paved right over the road of your unanswered prayers.” Can you talk about why there isn’t a formula?
There’s no formula for learning how to be patient, mainly because the human heart doesn’t respond to formulas. While there are formulas or strategies to bake cakes, build cars and even space travel, there is no formula that governs how a heart starts to love, begins to hate, moves toward God, or learns patience.
God knows our hearts need to experience certain situations, challenges and even heartache for us to learn how to trust his timeline for our lives. This means God is patient with us because part of our journey is learning we can’t fix people or force solutions in order to get what we want.
Unlike a plan, a winding path of learning to live on God’s timeline is more than just finding the fastest route from point A to point B. The winding path toward patience is a journey full of life-changing experiences, connections and relationships that we encounter along the way that God uses to help our hearts look more like His.
Q: Which women from the Bible do you use as examples for women who grappled with unanswered prayers?
- Hannah wondered if God loved her or had forgotten about her.
- Ruth’s life took a tragic and unexpected turn.
- The unnamed bleeding woman suffered for over a decade with an embarrassing medical condition.
- Martha prayed, but God said “no” to her prayer.
Q: What would you say to encourage someone who feels as if God has forgotten her or doesn’t love her because her prayers have gone unanswered?
First, I would sit down with her and ask to give her a big hug. Living with unanswered prayer is hard—especially when we’re praying for good things, like a baby, a spouse, a clean bill of health or for a struggling child to get back on track.
Rather than give advice or tell someone to “buck up,” I believe an overwhelmed, discouraged woman needs what Tim Keller calls “the ministry of presence.” When someone feels the pain of unanswered prayer, she doesn’t need advice, but rather listening, love and reassurance.
Some of my favorite go-to encouraging statements when hanging out with a friend who is struggling are: “Tell me how you’re really doing,” “I know that you are doing the best that you can!” and “You are loved and you aren’t alone.”
Q: What are some of the reasons the Bible gives for God not answering prayers?
The Bible reveals numerous reasons God delays in answering our prayers. Some of those include:
- God might not answer because of our lack of forgiveness, secret sin, pride, or wrong motives.
- God wants to protect us from harm or heartache down the road.
- God is allowing more time to pass so that we’ll have the chance to see His power on display in our lives.
- God allows a delay to teach us to trust Him in the hard place and develop persistence in prayer.
- God may delay the answer to your prayer because He’s working in someone else’s life first.
What To Do While Waiting On God
Q: When an unexpected event throws life off course, what do you pray for when you don’t know what to pray?
A few years ago, my dad got sick. In just a few weeks, he’d lost more than 30 pounds off his athletic frame. A biopsy revealed advanced metastasized lung cancer and doctors told us that Dad only had a few days to live. At the time, I’d been on the road speaking and half-way through writing a new book, but the news that I was about to lose my beloved dad upended my entire life.
In devastating moments, I rely on praying God’s promises. In the hardest moments, I don’t know what to say, but God’s promises give me life and hope—even when I’m numb or not even sure if I can believe them in the moment.
In the study, I’ve included one of my favorite rituals, a tool that I call the “God-Morning/God-Night Technique” that’s gotten me through a lot of hard and heartbreaking days. Basically, I repeat five of God’s promises before I open my eyes and begin the day. By starting with a “God-morning,” with his promises, I can beat back the feelings of fear, uncertainty and impatience by reminding myself that God is with me and for me not matter what I’ll face that day.
Q: How can we protect ourselves from bitterness during our wait?
In I’m Waiting, God, I explain bitterness like this: “Bitterness is the story that blames God for the pain in our past. Better is the story that believes God will be faithful in the future.”
Bitterness always begins small, but the more we repeat the stories of how God or others hurt or betrayed us, we begin to believe that is the story of our lives—and the story of our future. I watched my grandmother nearly die of bitterness after my grandfather’s affair when I was a little girl. She spent a lot of time in the hospital before finally confronting her bitterness and changing her story.
For me, gratitude is the antibiotic that kills any little bitter roots in my life. Each day of the I’m Waiting, God study features a gratitude exercise. Just taking a moment to reflect on God’s blessing not only kills little roots of disappointment, rejection or regret that could grow into bitterness, but also uplifts our hearts and gives us joy, even as we’re waiting for God to answer our prayers.
Waiting On God Verses
Q: Is there ever a time to let a prayer go? How do you know when it’s the right time, after weeks, months, or maybe even years?
This is a hard question because there’s no easy answer to this question. On one hand, we’re instructed to pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17), but we also know that there is a starting and ending to all things (Ecclesiastes 3). The point of prayer is to authentically connect ourselves to God so that his Spirit can lead and guide us. However, as circumstances change, there are times when it is no longer safe, wise or life-giving for us to pursue certain situations.
For many years, I prayed for God to save my marriage. I’d made a commitment before God over 25 years before, and I believed God could do the impossible. I fasted and prayed for years for God to restore a relationship that addiction had destroyed. Even after I had to move out of my home because of the issues, I still kept believing and praying for restoration and healing.
It’s hard to pray for years when nothing seems to be happening. I received some great encouragement from a wise friend: “You pray until you sense God releasing you from that prayer.”
I continued to pray until I realized that it was no longer safe or wise for me to go back into that situation. I didn’t give up on God, nor did I stop believing in his almighty power. But I did realize that it was time to shift from praying for what I wanted to praying for God to help me let go and trust His plan for my future, even though it wasn’t what I wanted.
To help me let go of the pain, disappointment and anger, I use a tool that I call my annual “funeral.” This is fully explained in the final week of the study, but it’s a tool to help me let go my anger, disappointments and fears. This funeral process helps me surrender my unanswered prayers to God so that my heart and hands are open for Him to bring new direction, opportunities and blessing into my life.
Q: Sometimes God’s plans for us are so much better than anything we could have ever expected. What are some important things to remember moving forward after a blessing in disguise or a prayer answered in an unexpected way?
It’s really easy to forget God when life is good! This is why gratitude is so important because the more we give thanks to God, the more we continue to share his glory through our story. Often, after we finally get that thing that we’ve been praying for forever, we forget all of the lessons God taught us while we were waiting. Gratitude keeps us connected to those lessons and allows God’s better blessings to keep flowing through our lives.
Waiting For God Summary
Q: What final piece of encouragement would you give to those who may be in an intense period of waiting right now?
This is the encouragement that I share whenever I speak before an audience: Today, you are doing the best that you can! Keep holding on! God has more for you because God has put more in you!
Perhaps you are wondering when to act and when to wait on God or the benefits of waiting of upon the Lord. If this is your struggle, I would encourage to dive into Barb 4 week study on Waiting On God.
About The Author
Barb Roose is a popular speaker and author who is passionate about connecting women to one another and to God helping them apply the truths of God’s Word to the practical realities and challenges they face as women in today’s culture.
Roose enjoys teaching and encouraging women at conferences and events across the country, as well as internationally, including national platforms such as the Aspire Women’s Events, She Speaks Conference, and the UMC Leadership Institute.
She is the author of the I’m Waiting, God: Finding Blessing in God’s Delays, Joshua: Winning the Worry Battle and Beautiful Already: Reclaiming God’s Perspective on Beauty Bible studies and the books Winning the Worry Battle: Life Lessons from the Book of Joshua and Enough Already: Winning Your Ugly Struggle with Beauty. Her writing has been featured in many magazines, and she also writes a regular blog at BarbRoose.com. She is the host of the bi-monthly “Better Together” podcast.
Roose lives in Toledo, Ohio, and is the proud mom of three adult daughters. Her perfect day includes sleeping in, taking a long walk outside, shopping for shoes and eating two big bowls of chocolate peanut ice cream.
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