Waiting for God’s Goodness (3)
I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the LORD
In the land of the living.
Wait on the LORD;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the LORD! Psalm 27.13, 14
And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said,“you have heard from Me…”Acts 1.4
Jesus associated losing heart in the life of faith with failing to persist in prayer (Lk. 18.1). Many Christians today have given up hope that the world can be renewed in the goodness of the Lord. They despair of ever seeing unity, holiness, harmony, order, creativity, and love abounding to the glory of God and the blessing of the world, and they have retreated into their spiritual huddles, praying “Maranatha, come Jesus,” waiting only for the Lord to deliver them from this present evil age.
Certainly we must pray eagerly for the Lord’s return, but not at the expense of our present witness and work.
Other Christians have come to believe that whatever goodness is to be preserved or restored in the world will be through the political process. They urge us to “get out the vote,” call on us to lobby Congress and the courts, and point us to those candidates or policies they believe will preserve our religious freedoms, if not restore our nation’s greatness and goodness.
Certainly, we must participate as responsible citizens in government and the political process, for God intends even this to be a vehicle for His goodness to come to light in the land of the living (Rom. 13.1-4). But the goodness of God is ultimately the business of the heavenly council and court.
We must above all, therefore, wait on the Lord for His goodness by turning to Him in prayer. As we seek the Lord in prayer, in the Name of Jesus and the power of His Spirit, according to the promises of His Word, we can know that our prayers will be heard and answered (Matt. 21.22). Prayer is a powerful means of strengthening our faith and opening the way for God to do great and surprising things (Jer. 33.3; Jms. 5.7, 8, 16-18). By prayer those spiritual forces of wickedness which blind the world to God’s goodness and prevent its flourishing may be cast out and trampled underfoot, so that the flower of goodness can blossom once again (Mk. 9.28, 29).
And waiting in prayer – and only in prayer – we may expect to lay hold on the precious and very great promises of God, as the apostles learned through their 10 days of waiting and praying for the Spirit in Acts 1.
What to pray
If we would not despair of seeing the goodness of God in the land of the living, and if we would not lose heart in doing good, we must pray. We must pray that God will work His goodness within our own souls, so that we are transformed increasingly into the image of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 3.12-18).
We must pray that God will alert us to the opportunities for doing good in our daily lives, and that He will empower us to be zealous and ready for good works, so that we make the most of the time He gives us for bringing His goodness to light (Tit. 2.14, 3.1; Eph. 5.15-17).
Let us pray specifically for others, for the people we see each day, for the lost of this world and those who exercise authority over them, for our neighbors and co-workers, and for those who create and manage the culture which is so essential to all our lives, that more of unity, holiness, harmony, creativity, order, and love may be evident around, within, and through them. And let us pray that their hearts may become dissatisfied with the relative and fleeting goodness of this secular age, and they might long for the purer, truer, and more lasting goodness that can come from God alone.
And let us pray that churches everywhere might fulfill their callings as the Body of Christ to be salt, light, and leaven, so that the goodness of God may flow with healing and renewal to our sad and weary world.
When to pray
When should we pray for such goodness? Jesus would say, “Always” (Lk. 18.1). Paul would say “in everything” (Phil. 4.6, 7). As the disciples joined together for an extended season of prayer, that the promised goodness of God might fall upon and unfold within and through then, so we also must pray.
We must pray in all our times of prayer, waiting on the Lord with pleading and in silent groaning, to bring His goodness to light in us and our world. Always to pray in everything means that specific prayers for specific aspects of the goodness of God should be mentioned in our times of worship, our Bible study and prayer groups, and when we are gathered with families or friends for prayer. We should breathe them with sighs and heaving and thanksgiving throughout the day, as often as the Spirit provokes us to seek the goodness of the Lord.
If we will wait on the Lord in prayer, we will find our spirits buoyed, our vision for God’s goodness renewed, our hopes revived, and our lives made new in God’s goodness day by day. And we will not despair of seeing His goodness come to light in the land of the living. To the contrary, we will rejoice and give thanks for the increasing evidence of His goodness all around, and wait with eager expectation for greater manifestations of His goodness yet to come (Ps. 67).
1. What will it require of you to begin praying more consistently for the goodness of the Lord?
2. Make a quick list of aspects of God’s goodness which you have observed in recent days. Thank Him for them, and ask Him to open your eyes even more.
3. Why is it so important that Christians pray specifically for specific manifestations of the goodness of God?
Next steps – Conversation: Share with a Christian friend whatever you have observed lately of the goodness of God, and invite your friend to join you in giving thanks and in seeking more of God’s goodness.
T. M. Moore
The Spirit of God executes the will of King Jesus, as His Agent on earth, for the progress of His Kingdom. Learn more about the kingship of Jesus and our place in it by ordering a copy of the book, The Kingship of Jesus, from our online store (click here).
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.