I remember telling my mom when I was a teenager that I felt like when I prayed I was talking to a brick wall. I didn’t understand why He didn’t talk to me or answer me. Her response was that verse in Psalm 46: “Be still and know that I am God.” I think I still struggle with the being still part.
Even back then I was always impatient and entitled. I compared my relationship with Him to my best friend’s relationship with Him. Seemed like He was always talking to her. The difference, I found out later, was that she waited on Him much more than I did. She tarried before the Lord. I don’t think I’d tarried for anything, ever!
My pastor always says, “Slow down.” It’s good advice; it’s a variation on “Be still,” and is something we can see Jesus do constantly. Jesus was always going off by Himself to pray. He went up to the mountains, into the wilderness, in the garden, to lonely places to be alone to pray. Sometimes He prayed all night! He tarried.
To tarry means to linger and take your time leaving, or to delay or be tardy in acting or doing something. It means to stay or sojourn. Tarrying is what you do when you don’t want to leave a place. How quickly do we get distracted by the list of things we need to get done, or by wanting to go to sleep, check Facebook or whatever it is that grabs at our attention? For me, it’s usually something I need to get done, or I’m just exhausted. I finish my prayers sometimes and just want to crawl into bed.
But what would happen if we tarried for a while?
“Therefore, the Lord longs to be gracious to you, and therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; how blessed are all who long for Him.”Isaiah 30:18
Whenever my kids and I go to the movies, we always wait at the end of the movie to see if there’s a scene after the credits. Sometimes we get a little glimpse into the next movie that will come out, or there’s just an extra funny scene or bloopers for the end of the one we just saw. Next time we get before the Lord and say our prayers, let’s just stay awhile. Let’s wait for a few minutes longer and see what He will do. If we wait on Him a little longer, maybe He will speak something to our heart. Or maybe we will simply be training ourselves to pray as Jesus did.
Or, how much joy would it give the Father to know that “as for me, I will watch expectantly for the Lord… (Micah 7:7a)” or for Him “I wait all the day (Psalm 25:5)?”
Prayer: Thank You for Your example, Jesus. Help me to remember Your ways and apply them to my life. Teach me to pray as You did, and to learn to wait on You. Teach me to tarry, to stay a little while longer, to listen more intently. I don’t just want to get from you; I also want to bless You. Help me to know how to do that. Thank You for Your grace and patience with me. You are awesome. Amen.