So there I was, wide awake at 3:57 a.m. (Thanks a lot, time change.) I quietly got out of bed, went to the main room in the house, and turned on our Christmas lights. (No, I didn’t put them up early; I just hadn’t taken them down from the previous year.)
I opened my Bible. I was reading from Isaiah when God told me to pester him in prayer. “You who call on the Lord, give yourselves no rest, and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth” (Isaiah 62:6,7). It was good timing and no coincidence to hear this from him because there have been a number of people and situations on my mind and my heart lately. So waking up and having extra time to talk to him was his invitation to hear from me—a lot.
Even though the book of Isaiah was written about three thousand years ago, those words apply to you today too. You who call on the Lord, give yourselves no rest, and give him no rest till he answers your prayers about your family, that job, your mental health, your pain, your church, your work, opportunities to share the gospel, your friend’s disease.
So talk to God. Don’t give yourself rest. Don’t let him rest. Pray in the morning when you wake up early. Pray while you’re driving in the car. Pray before you head out for school or the workday. Pray while you’re walking around the grocery store. Pray while you’re on a run. Pray.
Be you. Use your words that come from your heart. Don’t feel you need to use big, churchy words. Say, “God, please help me” or sigh or groan. He knows.
Be bold. Tell him exactly what you want. This is the God who can do more than we can ask or imagine, so he isn’t intimidated by your audacious requests. He’s excited to take your prayers and surprise you with even more.
Be patient. Sometimes God does answer quickly. About a week ago a friend called and shared some medical issues her family was struggling with—and how they couldn’t get in touch with the doctor. We prayed together over the phone, asking God to intervene. She called me back later to let me know that 20 seconds after we hung up, the doctor’s office called. Wow! Thanks, God! That was a fast yes.
You know what, though? God doesn’t always act that quickly. Some people have been on my prayer list for two years—and while things may be different, they aren’t necessarily better. They still have health struggles, relationship issues, tough work situations. They still feel lonely, struggle with anxiety, or haven’t made much visible progress with their grief.
I don’t know why God seems to say yes quickly for some things and why for others he teaches me patience, but I trust when Isaiah reminds me that “since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him” (Isaiah 64:4).
He loves acting on your behalf. Ask him.
Linda Buxa is a writer and editor who thinks God is the first one who’s ever encouraged her to talk even more than she usually does.