The blessings that follow patient waiting on God

“I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD,”  Psalm 40:1-3.

The word ‘patiently’ in the verse is one that refers to a ‘looking with expectancy and a lying quietly waiting’. Prayer often entails a ‘waiting’. Over against that, we must remember that the Lord has said: “before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear,” Isaiah 65:24. The commentator, John Gill has rightly said of these words: “That is, their desires shall be anticipated, God will see their needs, and He will impart to them the blessings which they need. He will not wait to be applied to for the blessing. How many such blessings do all His people receive at the hand of God! How ready is He to anticipate our needs! How watchful is He of our necessities; and how rich His benevolence in providing for us!”

General Rule

I think that we can say that such speedy answers are the exception to the general rule. “Waiting” is a time of preparation for the believer. Their desire for God’s blessing is heightened during the waiting. An awareness of their need is pressed in upon those praying and they are made to recognise their own helplessness and utter dependence on God’s mercy.

Swift answers come to those who are in a right state of heart and mind to receive mercy.

This is illustrated in the account of the death and resurrection of Lazarus, John 13:3-7. “Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby. Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was. Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again.”

That two day wait was for a purpose. There was a readying of Martha and Mary.

The verses I have quoted from Isaiah 65 come from a passage which relates to the future changes that God will bring about amongst His ancient people, Israel. At the end of this age, the remnant of Israel, humbled, broken and distressed by the events they endured during the ‘great tribulation’, will be visited by the grace of God and in a miraculous manner, they will be converted.

“And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn,” Zechariah 12:10.

And again, “Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children,” Isaiah 66:8.

It is in this context that prayer is so swiftly answered. Those seeking the Lord’s blessing are so brought into union with the Lord and at one with God that they are thinking as one mind!

As the thought of a request is formed the answer to it is on its way.


I think the events featuring Peter walking on the stormy sea illustrates this. “But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” Matthew 14:30-31. Peter’s sinking down into the sea instantly brought him to a place of the awareness of his helplessness and danger and he cried with an unusual urgency and ‘immediately’ the Lord answered his prayer.

But to return to our subject: the blessings of patiently waiting on God.


“I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me . . .”.

The word means the Lord stretches out and bows down to hear the prayers of His people.

1. How faint and feeble are our prayers. The Lord underscores this by inclining toward us in order to hear our weak cries. As the approach of death robs a person of a strong voice so sin strangles our ability to ‘cry aloud’ in prayer. Sometimes our prayers are reduced to mere groanings. “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered,” Romans 8:26. So weak are we that it is only by the help of the Holy Spirit that we are able even to groan!

2. The Lord is most attentive to hear our prayers. It is said of Samuel that “The LORD was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground,” 1 Samuel 3:19. That is a reference to Samuel’s preaching. I believe that in like manner the Lord will not allow one word of our poor prayers to fall to the ground and lie unheard!

3. How precious to the Lord is even the weakest cry of the saint. Can we not see an eager response by the Lord and a reaching down so as not to miss one word of His child’s cry for help! In another place David prayed: “Bow down thine ear, O LORD, hear me: for I am poor and needy,” Psalm 86:1. How often the Lord shows His love to us by hearing our feeblest cry!


“He inclined unto me and heard my cry.”

1. It is always so with the child of God. He does not bow down to mock, to reject. As a mother responds to the cry of her child, so much more compassionately does the Lord answer our cries.

How undeserving was David as he prayed and confessed in Psalm 51!

How unworthy was Jonah when he cried from the belly of the whale!

How shamefully unworthy were the disciples when they forsook the Lord and fled and yet he heard their broken-hearted repentance as was epitomised for us in the tears of Peter, Luke 22:62.

2. God hears our prayers filtered by the grace and mercy of Christ. How stained and spotted our prayers are! We speak improperly to the Lord, especially in times of trouble. In our haste we utter that which is unwise and use words that are unseemly. Job recognised that he had uttered words before the Lord that were inadvisable and he regretted that. “Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes,” Job 42:6.

Yes, we must confess that our prayers often contain that which must be offensive to the Lord. We are ‘ill-mannered’ in our fashion of asking and yet, the Lord hears our cry! Here we see the power of the precious blood. God hears us as the voice of the blood of Christ, the mediator of the new covenant, His “blood of sprinkling, . . . speaketh better things than that of Abel,” Hebrews 12:24. Abel’s blood cried for vengeance, Genesis 4:10-11.

3. Aye, and despite the unworthiness of our prayers, He answers us ABUNDANTLY. That is made very clear in the verses which follow but let me quote those lovely verses in Ephesians 3:20-21. “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”


“He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay.”

The ‘horrible pit’ and the ‘miry clay’ is the place of our natural abode and the place to which sin, the flesh, the world and the devil would have us return!

1. Prayer instantly causes us to ascend spiritually, mentally and physically. We are immediately able to think on a higher plane and our souls rise upward. Physically, our life soars up and we are seen in our demeanour and behaviour, like Lazarus, to cast off the grave clothes of our former ways. When I arose from my knees that evening back on April 5th, 1964, though I could not explain it for I did not understand what it was God had done in my soul, I did sense that there was a ‘newness’ about me! I was instructed by Dr Ian Paisley a week later and then from God’s Word I learned something of the change God had wrought.

In the days immediately following my calling in weakness upon the Lord, the thoughts of smoking, boozing, dancing and the other worldly habits which had heretofore been a part of my life, ceased to have any appeal. I abhorred them. That change was the result of prayer!

2. Continuing in prayer sustains that elevating effect. “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint,” Isaiah 40:3. That being so, may we not rightly conclude that the evident ‘decline’ in the spiritual state of the Church today is caused by a lack of true spiritual prayer? The old maxim, ‘the church advances upon its knees’ is very true! Once it rises off its knees, advance ceases and retreat and decay begins. Please recall the famous words spoken about Peter and John by “Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest,”Acts14:6. They were enemies of Christ one and all but they were forced to acknowledge of the apostles, at least amongst themselves, “that they had been with Jesus,” Acts 4:13.

This Christlikeness was upon men who were frequenters of the place of prayer! “Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour,” Acts 3:1. That is how the inspired narrative of this event begins.

3. The place of prayer is the ‘escape hatch’ by which we avoid the devil’s temptations. The old blind hymn writer, Mr William Malford, was right when he said:

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
that calls me from a world of care,
and bids me at my Father’s throne
make all my wants and wishes known.

In seasons of distress and grief,
my soul has often found relief,
and oft escaped the tempter’s snare
by thy return, sweet hour of prayer!

It is not surprising then that the devil would use every ploy in his sizeable bag of tricks to keep us from the place of prayer, either private prayer or in collective gatherings with other believers. As Jude directed the readers of his letter, so ought we to do. “But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life,” Jude 1:20-21.

Prayer is the means of self-preservation.


“And set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.”

1. At the beginning of last month, I passed the sixty year ‘milestone’ of my Christian pilgrimage. I can recall how one man in Ulster Television, where I was working at the time of my conversion, was heard to say, ‘I give him a week!’

Now his scepticism was born of his own awareness that human strength could not bring about a LASTING spiritual change for the good. He was a Roman Catholic and doubtless he had attempted to change himself for the better many times. But it was all in vain!

But the change in my life was most certainly not of myself. Here I am sixty years later and I can honestly say, though without giving the least credit or praise to myself, I am still on that path I started upon on my knees in the bedroom of the house of a friend in Lowwood Park, Belfast.

No, it was not grim determination and tenacity on my part that has kept me going. Rather, I am one of those “Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time,” 1 Peter 1:5.

I would use the words of the former old drunken sinner, ‘Jack the Huckster’, a pedlar, when asked to describe himself.

I’m only an old sinner,
And nothing at all.
But Jesus is my all in all!

He had heard, while a drunkard, an old Christian lady singing these words and he took them to heart, was converted and they became his testimony.

That is my testimony also!

2. The ‘rock’ upon which God sets us is Christ. I cannot but say that it is certainly not Peter, as my Roman Catholic neighbours are mistakenly made to believe. Christ makes the matter clear in Matthew 16:18. “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter (Greek – ‘Petros’ – ‘a stone’) and upon this rock (Greek – ‘Petra’ – a ‘large rock’) I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

‘Petros’ is male gender and ‘Petra’ is feminine gender. So it is plain that the Saviour was not referring to the same identities in this verse. One was indeed Peter but the ‘Petra’ upon which He would build His church was the ‘rock’ of Peter’s confession in verse 16. “And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Proof that Peter was not the ‘rock’ was seen in his abject failure and cowardly denial of Christ. “And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew. And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And Peter went out, and wept bitterly,” Luke 22:60-62.

If the Church was built upon him, it had a very short existence for the foundation crumbled!


But the truth of the matter is made clear by Paul. “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone,” Ephesians 2:19-20. Yes, the people of God and that includes Peter, are stones in the great building. Peter explains it so: “If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ,” 1 Peter 2:3-5. We are stones but Christ is “the chief corner stone”, the “living stone”. It is upon Him we are built. “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ,” 1 Corinthians 3:11. The Lord Jesus made clear to His rejectors that in rejecting Him, they were rejecting the ’stone’ which is ‘the head of the corner’ of God’s building

“Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them,” Matthew 21:42-45.

3. We are ‘cemented’ to the Rock Christ Jesus. I use the word ‘cemented’ advisedly. Note what the Psalmist says. “And set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.” The two words ‘set’ and ‘established’ are very important. The first word means ‘confirmed’. It speaks of permanence. It is used by the Lord to describe His covenant with Abraham. “And I will establish (our word ‘set’) my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee,” Genesis 17:7. I have highlighted the words that indicate the permanence of the word ‘set’.

The second word, ‘established’, is very similar in meaning. It carries the meaning of ‘fixed’. Psalm 57:7, 108:1 and 112:7 all show this meaning.

I recall a little chorus I learned within a short time after I was saved. It was a comfort then and remains so still today.

Linked on to Christ the Conqueror,
And Calvary’s victory too,
Assures me in the darkest hour,
That He will see me through!

Dear Christian, our relationship with Christ is unbreakable. Christ has stated: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand,” John 10:27-28.

That is ‘blessed assurance’ indeed!


“And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it.”

1. The song the Lord puts in the heart of His people is ‘new’ in the sense that they have never known it or sung it before. Its words and sentiments were utterly unknown to them before this work of God’s grace. In our unsaved state we could never have mastered the tune nor articulated the words. The song is but part of the things that have become ‘new’ in our lives. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new,” 2 Corinthians 5:17.

2. It is a song of praise unto ‘our God’. We had never sung unto God before! We have never truly thought of Him, spoken in reverence of Him. We had used his name as a curse and an expletive! But now we joined in the singing of others, including the angels, though doubtless our efforts were not so melodious! Be that as it may, no angel can sing of God’s redeeming mercy as do the redeemed.

3. Our song is accompanied by a happiness that was visible. The true Christian does have a lasting happiness. O yes, just like the sea, the tide can go out but it does return again. The records of saints weeping is stated by the Psalmist.

“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning,” Psalm 30:5. Sin is the source of sorrow and weeping but grace is the cause of our abiding joy and singing. Paul urged upon the Ephesians: “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,” Ephesians 5:19-20. That is what the world should hear from our lips, our homes and our assemblies and gatherings.


“Many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.”

1. We ought to be able to engender a reverence for God and eternal things by our witness. I am sure that there is a sad correlation between the lack of conversions, about which every devout believer mourns today, and the lack of the sounding forth of that which the Psalmist tells us that we ought to be sounding out.

2. Is there not a universal mocking of the people of God? Government and officialdom, comedians, reporters etc, tip-toe around Islam and the many perversions legitimised by society. It has been evident on the streets of London and many other cities at home and abroad, that the police, whose task it is to keep law and order, back off rather than confront pro-Islam protesters as they ought to be confronted or the displays of indecency which mark sodomite parades.


However, it is ‘open season’ on the God of Heaven, His people and all things related to Him. Anti-semitism is rife world-wide today as it has not been for a long time. Police were ready in London to arrest a Jew, returning from a synagogue, should he insist on continuing walking the street during a pro-Hamas demonstration. Universities seem to be in the control of officials and groups who are vehemently anti-Jew and pro-Gaza!


The Christian is hated as is the Jew because of their links to the God of the Bible. The Gentile believers are today enjoying the favour of God while the Jewish nation, because of its rejection of the Lord Jesus Christ, is presently cut off from God’s favour. This truth was stated by Paul.

“And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city (Antioch in Pisidia) together to hear the word of God. But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming. Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed,” Acts 13:44-48.

I must add that there is a day coming soon when the Jewish nation will be reconciled to God. The growing anti-semitism is but part of that series of event which herald the soon return of Christ. Isaiah spoke of the day appointed of God in which He will deliver Israel.

“And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the LORD. As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the LORD; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever,” Isaiah 59:20-21. This and many, many other prophecies speak of that day.

But today is the great day of the final apostasy from God. The fruit of that rebellion is seen in every stratum of society.

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away,” 2 Timothy 3:1-5.

3. The people of God today have lost their song somewhat, and consequently make little impression upon the world around. It is not that the church does not sing! Indeed, I would say there is more ’singing’ associated with the church today than has ever been in previous times. Sadly, it is the world’s song that has invaded the pulpits and pews of the modern church!

In past days of revival there was much joyful singing but Oh how different it was to the fleshly, trashy ‘songs’ of today! The psalms of David, the hymns of men like Watts, Gadsby, Bonar, Wesley, Matheson, Palmer, and women like Fanny Crosby, Francis Havergal and many others, all stand in holy contrast to that which has more links to Nashville and Hollywood than it has with heaven and God. Yet these sounds are heard frequently in ‘fundamentalist’ pulpits and fiercely defended from any Biblical examination.

It is little wonder that it is no longer as it was with the Psalmist. “And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.”


I say that on the basis of the Word of God. No Christian should speak of what might be in the future EXCEPT on the basis of the Bible!

What does the Bible say about the future of mankind, planned by God, on this earth? I cannot deal with every expression of God’s future plans for the Lord has provided us with many revelations and that in great detail. God’s plans for the nation of Israel, the Gentile nations which will enter a confederacy with the final Antichrist and of course, true believers, take up a very sizeable portion of the sixty six books of the Bible. The revelations take the form of (1) direct and plain declarations, (2) pictorial representations seen in past events (3) and in parables.

1. It is a record studied by the devil and with which he is well acquainted. Indeed, I can say that he is not carried away with the foolish notions that many embrace (at his encouragement it must be said) and as a result fail to arrive at a right understandings of the prophetic Scriptures.

Nor is he of the mind of some professing Christian pastors who discourage the study of the prophetic Scriptures. No, the devil observes closely what God has to say about the future.

How do I know? you ask. Simply read the following verses and you will see why I believe these things.

“And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time,” Revelation 12:10-12.

It may surprise many to know that the author of confusion regarding the return of Christ is not himself in the least confused about that event.

2. The devil ‘knows’ that he will not win in his battle against God! The Holy Spirit has set down this truth for us. “He knoweth that he hath but a short time.” He knows that the multiplicity of schemes and devices and deceptions that he has carried on since his fall, will not ultimately succeed. Indeed, even more galling for him, he knows that God has used his schemes and tricks to further His holy purpose. The devil’s master stroke turned out to be God’s paramount means of overthrowing the devil and his plans.

“Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it,” Acts 2:22-24.

Calvary was God supreme triumph which sealed the fate of the devil and which will, in God’s good time, be brought to its culmination.

This the devil knows for he too can read the Bible, but unlike his dupes, he believes it as James says! “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble,” James 2:19.

3. One final point: if the devil knows that he will be utterly defeated, why does he continue to futilely resist God? That is not that hard to answer nor is it an unimaginable thing. Recall the verse in John 8, a verse I have often quoted: “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it,” John 8:44.

Let every unconverted sinner note these words. “The lusts of your father ye will do.” The stupidly stubborn attitude displayed by the devil as he persists in defying God even though the Bible, the truth of which he has seen fulfilled and proved to be true time and time again during his existence, clearly tells him of his eventual fate, this same stupidity is seen in sinful men.

Here is the devil’s fate. “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever,” Revelation 20:10.

Knowing this, he maintains a defiance of God by every means at his disposal.


Dear sinner, do you not see a reflection of yourself in this? Paul wrote of men in the past who “Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them,” Romans 1:32. In every gospel meeting and on the highways and byways of the earth, there are those  ‘WHO KNOW’ the fate that awaits their defiance of God and rejection of the gospel BUT yet they go on in their unspeakable folly.

The devil and sinful man is a slave, a captive of their depraved nature. That is why the devil and men act so.

However, while there is no redemption for the devil, salvation and mercy is offered to men through the gospel. Remember this verse.

“How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him,” Hebrews 2:3.

The answer to that question is:  there is no escape if you reject the gospel.

“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him,” John 3:36.

Reader, give thought to these things and obey God while there is time.

Rev Ivan Foster (Rtd)
1st May 2024