In the midst of much waiting on God that our family is and has been doing for a long time I have been reading a book by T. Austin-Sparks called Discipline Unto Prayer. One chapter is called The Divine Ministry of Delay and I was helped by these quotes and want to share them with you.
“I am going to suggest three things, and they are mere suggestions; but may they bring light to you, as they have brought to me in past days. The first thing I want to say about God’s delays is this: It is only by enforced waiting upon Him that we come to know God with that knowledge which is the foundation of all character. I use the word enforced waiting upon God, because it is only by being forced to wait upon God that some of us ever do wait on Him. We are naturally impatient, we are naturally impulsive, we naturally chafe at anything like slowness; and God, by withholding the answer for which we have looked, keeps us at His feet in order that we may come to know Him. He is infinitely more concerned in the making and remaking of our lives than in the gratifying of our minds. He is infinitely more concerned in making us men and women of His own pattern, and to deepen His life in our souls, than to gratify some of the desires which we often express in unconsidered prayer. For we cannot come to know God, and inferentially we cannot come to know ourselves, in an hour. God’s delays do not indicate any caprice on His part, but rather His concern and compassion for us. They are directed toward saving us from hurrying away from His presence before the lessons of His grace have been more than mentally received. God is preparing us, by keeping us waiting upon Him, worthily to receive, to interpret, and then to use the gifts He will yet give in answer to prayer and in fulfilment of His word.”
“We are kept waiting upon Him that we may become of the number of those who really do know their God, and who consequently are empowered to do exploits.”
“God is making us; do not let us be impatient under the process. God is making us; do not let impatience and impetuosity take us, therefore, from under the hand of the Master Workman. He is eliminating the flaws, and remaking the marred vessels. The two qualities which we need most – endurance and radiance – are not imparted to any man in a single hour. God keeps us waiting that in His presence, beholding His glory, we may be changed into the same image from glory unto glory.”
“The things we try to get rid of by prayer are often the very things we can least afford to lose. Some of those things we call burdens, of which we try to get rid in the Sanctuary, are the things that God has placed upon us for the steadying of life and the guiding of our energies into channels which otherwise we should overlook and miss. Paul learnt that there was something infinitely better than the removal of the thorn-pain – infinitely better! Thrice he besought the Lord to remove it – with what interval between those prayers we know not. But surely Paul, like the rest of us, was perplexed at God’s delay. And he ultimately found that God was preparing something far better than the extraction of the thing which caused a throbbing wound – “My grace is sufficient for thee.” If he had not had the thorn-pain, like the nightingale which is said to sing sweetest when its breast is pierced, he had never learned the song: “Most gladly will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me!” We learn, as we are kept waiting at His feet, that the cord which we would have had God cut, He disentangles, and so saves for purposes of His service. God’s ways are always justified of His children, if they will patiently tarry His leisure.”
“The third thing I want to say is this. Faith can only be trained by being tested. As a man’s muscles are only hardened by exercise, so his faith only becomes strong and ultimately invincible by being subjected to the discipline of strain. For until it accepts the will of God, not under compulsion, nor because there is no alternative, but by free choice and glad surrender, faith is lacking in essential quality. But when we are unmoved by the fact that we are kept waiting, calmly conscious that God’s glory is intimately bound up with our lives
and prayers, and content that if He can afford to wait, so too can we, one of life’s greatest lessons has been learnt. For faith reaches its triumph only when its exercise ceases to be a deliberate activity and becomes an instinctive attitude.”
Besides the book Discipline Unto Prayer, which these quotes are from, other good places to start reading are The Centrality and Supremacy of the Lord Jesus Christ; Christ Our Life; The Measure of Christ, Christ–All and In All. Sparks’ main message was the Lord Jesus Christ. The desire in all of his writings was to lift up the name of Jesus. There is much nourishing food for the soul here!