1 Peter 5:6 | Psalm 37:4 | Matthew 7:11 | Acts 1:7 | Psalm 90:4

“But when, Lord?” 

There was a man with three young sons who consistently asked him for new toys. Sometimes they would ask for small things like a toy motorcycle, and he would respond, “We can go to the store tomorrow and you can use your allowance.” Other times they would ask him for large things–like a real motorcycle–and he would answer, “Someday we can buy one for you if you keep saving your allowance.”

Eventually, the sons caught on to the fact that their father wanted to give them what they desired. The question then became when he would do it. Accordingly, they changed their questioning: “When can I get that motorcycle, Dad?”

That might be your situation: you believe that God loves you and wants to give you the desires of your heart because of scriptures like these:

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.

Psalm 37:4 NLT

“So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.”

Matthew 7:11 NLT

So you ask him for what you want, believing he will give it to you. Now the question is when.

This is where things get sticky.

One time, Jesus’ disciples kept asking him, “Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?”

He replied, “The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know.”

Matthew 7:11 NLT

Jesus gave them the above answer, then offered a few more instructions…and promptly flew home! Seriously. That’s literally what he did.

And God’s sense of timing is not terribly encouraging, in this regard… 

For you, a thousand years are as a passing day, as brief as a few night hours.

Psalm 90:4 NLT

The long and short of it is: Asking God when something will happen is not going to lead to satisfying responses. You just have to trust that God will bring it about at the right time, and be happy with that.

And that was what the man’s three sons learned as they asked questions like, “When can we get a new video game system?” or, “When can we visit the North Shore of Oahu?”

Though his mouth said, “When you guys get old enough,” or, “When we get some vacation time AND a bargain on air fare,” the gleam in his eyes told them that he loved them and would follow through when the time was right.

Questions for Group Discussion

  • Have you experienced God coming through at just the right time? If so, did you wish it could have happened sooner?
  • Is it comforting to remember that God knows the future? Take a look at Daniel 7. God showed Daniel events that would unfold over the next centuries and even millenia.
  • Have you ever been asked repeatedly when you would make good on one of your promises or obligations? “When are you going to take out that trash?” “Are you ever going to clean your room?”
  • Do you think God gets annoyed by being asked when he will answer a prayer? Read Psalm 35:17 and consider it in your answer.

Application: Learning God’s Timing

Please do not expect to have a full understanding of God’s timing after completing this exercise. On the other hand, you may expect to make some progress toward that end if you try it.

Read the scriptures listed below and, for each one, make some notes about what they reveal regarding God’s timing.

  • Galatians 5:22
  • Psalm 37:7
  • Lamentations 3:25
  • Isaiah 40:31

Then mark your calendar and revisit your notes in one month and, if you can, in one year.