A popular phrase among evangelical preachers and theologians today is “Spirit-filled preaching.” If you type this phrase into YouTube, you will find hundreds of sermons on what it means to preach by the Spirit of God. Some of which is biblical and some of which is not. Additionally, there are even more books, videos, and resources available to you if you look up “Spirit-filled life” or “Spirit-filled ministry.” However, you will be hard pressed to find much of anything about what it means to wait patiently in the Spirit.
Waiting in the Spirit involves waiting patiently on the Lord by His power and might, not our own. What this looks like on the mission field is trusting that God is doing things beyond what your physical eyes can see. In the flesh, we, as missionaries, may be tempted to doubt our calling and question why God has called us to work in such a demonically fortified place. Yet, in the Spirit, we know that He has a purpose and will empower to fulfill that purpose whenever the time comes. In the meantime, we need to be filled with His Spirit daily so that we would not grow weary in doing good (Galatians 6:9). The Bible says that we will reap in due time, if we do not give up.
I often think about the lives of great missionaries like William Carey and Adoniram Judson. Both of these men obeyed the calling of God to go to some of the most difficult places on earth to share the good news of Jesus Christ. Both of them waited at least 7 years, I believe, before they saw even one convert. They kept their hands to the Gospel plow not by sheer force of will, but by waiting in the Spirit, by being faithful in the little things.
Jesus modeled Spirit-filled waiting perfectly. He lived thirty years before even starting His public ministry. That ministry lasted three years, culminating with His death on the cross. Of course, we know that the story didn’t end there. Three day later, Jesus rose from dead by the power of the Spirit. His birth, His life, His death and resurrection were all marked by the power of the Holy Spirit. If the Son of God needed to be filled with the Spirit, how much more do we need to be filled with the Spirit as His disciples?
Waiting is undoubtedly hard. For the Christian, it is not an exercise in passivity or apathy. We must be diligent in prayer, fasting, and all of the spiritual disciplines. Like the godly men and women who have gone before us, we must call upon the name of the Lord. Brothers and sisters, we must stop looking at our watches and start look at His Word. We need to fix our eyes first on His kingdom and His righteousness, and all of these other things will be added unto us (Matthew 6:33). No man is a failure who waits patiently on the Lord, by His Spirit.