Each morning when I arise, I get a cup of coffee–French Roast, black– and head outside for a walk. This is the prayer that starts my day:
“In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.” Psalm 5:3 NIV
It’s reassuring to know that God is with me, always, and especially as I face the uncertainties of a new day. My first petitions are for my family, for the joys and concerns of their lives. My needs quickly bubble to the surface and I feel relieved to place them before God, instead of going it alone, trying to figure things out by myself.
What I like about this Psalm, is not only does it acknowledge that when we pray we lay everything before God, but then we have to wait. In this verse, it’s the state of waiting– in expectation that grabs my attention.
Many times, I’m frustrated with waiting; I want things to happen more quickly. But when I wait in expectation it’s hopeful waiting– the certainty that is faith before the evidence. I revisited the meaning of expectation at dictionary.com: “the act of state of looking forward, anticipating.”
I actually prefer the word anticipation because it implies a state of anticipating pleasure, or a favorable decision. When we anticipate pleasure or a favorable decision, we aren’t filled with the sense of dread that some expectations give us– based on past experiences. While answers to prayers may not be the things we thought we wanted, the things we hoped for, they can be the favorable decision based on what is best for us. This may sound rather vague, or like “pie in the sky” on my part, but for me seeing in retrospect how prayers were answered assures me that I can trust in God’s process.
When I took my Nurse Coaching/Life Coaching class some years ago, we learned to “hold the space” with a client. That meant that we opened up room for whatever needed to grow and expand, a place where what was uncertain was respected and allowed to develop. Holding a space for the uncertainty of how an answer to a prayer would evolve, feels like anticipation. It allows room to ponder the question of prayer, the possible ways it may be answered, the self-examination that may need time. It’s part of the journey of every day to see how our path unfolds, how we hear “go this way, go that way” from the still, small voice of God within that beckons us.
Years ago, my friend-from-first-grade, Donna and I decided we would attend our 20th high school reunion. We both felt some fear of attending our first gathering with classmates, most of whom we hadn’t seen in twenty years–especially those who were in ‘other groups,’ the popular crowd, the athletes, those whom we put on pedestals. To counter our fear, prepare for that mid-June event, we planned shopping trips to pick out the perfect outfits for the afternoon picnic and evening dance.
What fun we had those Saturdays looking for the right clothes, talking about teenage memories, laughing about our nights of riding-around Hardee’s and the Little Mint– the hamburger joints of small-town Sanford, North Carolina. By the time the day of the reunion arrived, we felt ready to face those strangers that used to sit in the desks beside us.
We had fun gathering with classmates and their families for the picnic in the park. Later, we met at the Elk’s Lodge and saw members of the Class of ’73 in their evening best dancing to songs from our day. There was a sense of relief when the night ended; we’d overcome our fears of facing those classmates from a very different time.
Looking back, the anticipation of the reunion, the time spent preparing with Donna had been as much fun as the night itself. Those hours of shopping and visiting, telling old stories, and making new discoveries, were valuable in continuing to develop our friendship.
Now, I think about the value of waiting in anticipation; it can apply to prayer or to other areas of our lives. When I’m waiting to go on a Solo Journey, I often think about the place I’ll be visiting and imagine what it’ll be like. As part of that anticipation, I like reading books from that area, studying maps, and talking with folks who are familiar with that part of the country, that part of the world. That space that I’m holding for that trip fills with curiosity and excitement, with the wonder of a place on the distant horizon that will become a new experience, a part of my history.
My hope is that you’ll find value in the experience of waiting in anticipation–for whatever it is that you seek. May you “hold that space” that waiting room as a place to make new discoveries that enrich your life and enlarge the experience of realizing what you’ve hoped for.