For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from him.
….Once God has spoken;
twice have I heard this:
that power belongs to God, and that to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love. || Ps. 62.5, 11-12a
There is no substitute for the hope that comes to the child of God in the secret place of prayer, and yet hope seems thin in the lives of many saints, even many who have been grounded in a clear hearing of the Gospel.
Little is more trying to the busy-headed disposition of modern culture than the call to “wait in silence” “for God alone”, and our schedules all-too-often attest to this. Distractions have always militated against a life of prayer, and we may likely have more objects of distraction than any generation before us. We are at war against distractions like never before, whether we realize it or not.
“There is no command in the whole Bible so difficult to obey and so penetrating in power as the command to be still.” || Amy Carmichael
Being still before God does not come naturally— this idea of going to the inner-room and meeting with our Father in secret. Therefore, the Scriptures call us out of our God-evading cycles and habits and command us to go to quiet places as our Lord did before us, that we might “be still and know” that He is God.
In the case of Psalm 62, David conjoins himself with the command of God and tells his own soul what to do: “For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence…”
This is what is most often required for the attainment of that hope which has already been purchased for us in Christ. We’ve got to say, whether in morning devotionals, throughout the daily affairs of life, or in the midst of trial, “Bless the Lord, O my soul…”, or, “O my soul, wait in silence…” It is an act of faith in God to take our eyes off of ourselves, off of our phones, off of everything that pulls and beckons for our attention, to look “unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.”
Waiting upon God “alone” with increasing consistency is a crucial attribute in the life of a disciple. It is an evidence of the sanctifying work of God in our lives. If we are not growing in an intimate communion with God through prayer, if we are going days and months without substantial time at His feet, this ought to be a matter of serious concern.
So, how do we grow in the grace of waiting upon God? It is not by convincing God or man that we are devoted by some heroic display. We enter in one way only. We enter boldly into the place of prayer on the basis of the Atonement. Our feelings, our failures, our doubts, our misplaced affections are real, but they are irrelevant to our ascending of the mount. We go up because Christ has torn the veil and provided the only way to true hope. We go up “in His Name,” for “no man comes to the Father but by Me.”
The more time we spend before Him, the greater the frequency of our coming to Him, the more we see of His glory in prayer and in the Scriptures, the more we desire to return to Him; the more we learn to abide in Him.
In the place of prayer, our most refined theological categories become more than accurate theology. The Spirit’s fire descends upon truth, quickens faith, and vitalizes our knowledge of God. We see the source and aim of the faith when we behold Him. The truths of Scripture are enlivened in our souls by faith, and our eyes are opened to behold wondrous things from His Word. We discover again and again a most vital conviction in that place, “that power belongs to God, and that to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love.” Our idols are exposed, our afflictions can be seen as lighter and more momentary, and the “light of His glory and grace” warms our souls.
Beholding Him there, seeing Him as He is, we are changed— and the course of our day, the lens through which we see, the aim of our lives is adjusted to His purposes, from glory to glory. The Spirit teaches us how we ought to pray as we wait upon God, and we are given a “taste of the powers of the age to come.” No man ever regretted spending time at Jesus’ feet. Every believing man has regretted his neglect of prayer.
“A true prayer is the echo of the eternal purpose. The Spirit of God leads us to desire exactly what God has decreed.” -Charles Spurgeon
It is a pitiful practice, neglecting such a richly rewarded waiting. It is a cursed striving which seeks to uphold life and play at godliness devoid of the appropriate hope and reverence which comes to us from His felt power and steadfast love. Yet so many who profess the faith would seek to get along without waiting on God alone. So often, we all do.
We may be willing to wait upon a restaurant meal, wait for another episode of our favorite show, wait for all that we anticipate seeing and sharing on smart phones, but to what degree can we be found waiting on God alone? In the deathly cycle of prayerlessness, we hope for hope and do not find it. We reach and consume and grasp for satisfaction in a million different places and find only wind. We make ourselves rich in a world of distractions, and are left empty.
Yet there is real, substantial, life-altering hope for those who are willing to lay the axe to the root of schedule and priorities to wait upon “God alone.” This is an axe that we must daily grasp; one we must swing with earnest intent both day and night. Only that kind of aggressive prioritization will clear the way for prayer.
Are you enjoying this reality, dear saint? It has been purchased for you by the One to Whom “power” and “steadfast love” belong. He has “loved you with an everlasting love,” but you will not abide in that love until your life becomes one which is characterized by this kind of waiting upon Him. “Choose you this day,” yes, every day, whom and what you will treasure; whom and what you will wait upon. Only that son or daughter who chooses by faith to look unto Jesus will abide consciously in the power of His steadfast love. He has both promised to keep us, and charged us to “keep” ourselves “in the love of God.” Prayer is one of the chief means of grace for doing just that.
Take whatever actions you need to take then, children of God. Go to bed earlier that you might rise earlier. Circumcise your usage of the smart phone. Stop worshipping food and entertainment. Abandon the pull to always be the first person hearing news, or the desire to be the life of every party. Silence the multi-faceted clamor and noise of this age, and quiet your soul before Him.
Every purported pleasure which keeps us from prayer will be revealed as a shabby thing at the end of our lives, in comparison with the rock-solid joy, hope, and enlargement of heart that comes from waiting upon Him, beholding Him, being still and knowing that He is God… indeed, that He is your God. Christ has purchased our acceptance with God, but only in prayer do we become acquainted with the “power” of the Good News, and learn to abide in the sweetness of it.
Don’t wait for some ambiguous trigger-situation to beef up your devotional life. It alone is not likely to establish you, anyhow. The Scriptures have given us the clarion call, a firm command, a glorious invitation. “Hope,” “power,” and “steadfast love” will be the portion enjoyed by the child of God who waits upon “God alone.”
“If you are too busy to pray, you are too busy. Cut something out…
We do not drift into spiritual life or disciplined prayer. We will not grow in prayer unless we plan to pray.” || D.A. Carson