By Sarah Williams
Have you ever been in a dark night season of the soul? Years ago I was held captive to a long period of difficulty that felt like it would never break. It was as if I were in a dark tunnel. I knew God was with me, but I could not see a speck of light. During that season He gave me hope that things would not stay as they were, but I spent a lot of time waiting in the dark. Maybe you are currently in a similar situation or perhaps you are contending for a breakthrough or an answer to prayer. Whether you are in a hard, dark place or just sitting in a waiting room, I would like to share with you five things I learned to do during that period of my life that helped me until I could see again. If you are asking the Lord to move in a situation, I encourage you to integrate these tips into your waiting until you see the manifestation of His mighty hand.
Remember His faithfulness when you don’t understand.
While in the tunnel, I made an actual list of questions for God that I actively held before Him. I was eager to get understanding and longed for an immediate breakthrough. For some time instead of getting answers it felt as if the list grew longer. I could relate to the writer of Psalm 77. He also was in a very difficult place with many questions for God. But despite his troubled state, he chose to turn his attention toward remembering God’s power at work.
Then I thought, “To this I will appeal: the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand. I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds” (Psalm 77:10-12, NIV).
The psalmist then declared who God is, recalling His miracles, His might, and His redemption. This also is what I learned to do. In my most difficult moments, I remembered God’s historical faithfulness in my life. Because I knew God was powerful, I imagined His plans being greater than the intensity of the warfare I was experiencing. I refused to believe that I would stay stuck in that place and anticipated the deliverance of the Lord. When your circumstances are screaming, it is time to amplify acknowledgement of how great God is. Reviewing what He did in the past can provide hope for the future and actually propel you forward.
Write a record of the things God has done for you and that you have seen Him do. Tell your stories of His goodness. Praise Him for who He is and anchor your heart into expectancy that He is at work in your situation and will come through strong once again.
Stand on His Word in prayer.
Ask the Holy Spirit, your Helper, to show you Scripture and promises that you can hold onto in this season. When I am carrying something in prayer, I write these treasures out and put them where they are regularly in front of my eyes. In order to take hold of the promises, we must engage our faith and expect that God will meet us. This is His design!
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him (Hebrews 11:6).
Luke 18 shares the parable of the persistent widow who got justice even from an unjust judge. Jesus told the disciples this parable to teach them “that they should always pray and not give up” (18:1). Too often we throw in the towel and stop when we don’t see immediate breakthrough. If you have laid down something that God put in your heart to contend for, I want to encourage you to reach out today and take hold of His grace to continue earnestly seeking Him, expecting that He will reward you as you stand on His Word and persist in faithful prayer.
Find others to agree with you in prayer.
There is great power in collective agreement in prayer. Jesus never wanted us to carry things solo. Instead, He gave us this key:
I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them (Matthew 18:19-20).
We need each other. I learned that asking for prayer requires vulnerability and humility, and it is entirely worth it. This was one of the biggest factors that began to bring me out of my dark season. For too long I tried to carry some things on my own, but God wanted me to let others help with my burden. Think of how much breakthrough we would see if everyone took hold of this principle! Here is my challenge to you: Invite one or two friends into a prayer project with you. Everyone brings their prayer point to the table. Commit to meeting and agreeing in prayer together over the list in regular rhythms. In between meeting, you each should continue to agree in prayer over the points. Commit to praying through until you can testify to how God moved.
Toss the trash.
During my time of contending, it seemed the enemy was constantly bombarding me with the temptation to think negatively. One day the Lord made it very clear to me that I needed to identify negativity and send it away from me. I began to pay closer attention to how I was thinking. Often when I was not thinking correctly, the Holy Spirit would give me a picture of a dumpster in my mind’s eye. I was so grateful for His aid and depended upon Him to help me break negative agreements and expectations. When we invite Him to help us, the Holy Spirit will renew our minds so that we think differently. We can partner with Him to focus with heavenly perspective. Here is the standard we are looking for:
Brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things (Philippians 4:8).
Worship in the waiting.
When something is heavy on your heart, it can demand a great deal of your attention. It commands much of your mind space and energy. It is important to realize that whatever you focus upon is what you empower. If you grab hold of this truth, you will find that worship is a weapon. You may have to tell your soul to magnify the Lord, but once it gets engaged and you begin to give God true worship from your heart, the atmosphere will shift. When you incline your heart toward Him and love on Him, He will draw near to you in return. God’s nearness is the greatest gift in the waiting room, for His presence fills the space, and suddenly you are reminded that you are not alone.
Perhaps the greatest gift from God during my dark season was when He re-taught me this. I was a worshiper from the time I was little, but warfare made me weary during my dark season. When God wooed me back into worship, I realized that I was truly not alone in the waiting room. And in that dark tunnel, not only was He with me, but He was holding my hand all the way through. And eventually, He walked me right into the light.
My friend, continue strong. Your light is coming!
About the Author
Sarah and her husband, George, have been in ministry together since they were married in 2006. They began their journey as urban missionaries, which led to planting and co-pastoring CityLight Church, an Open Bible church in Toledo, Ohio.
In 2016, Sarah founded the Transformation Center, which offers personal prayer ministry to help people find wholeness and freedom. Sarah and her team minister to individuals and also equip and train others to cultivate healing in their own communities. Sarah highly values her ministry to her family and to the Lord. Her delight is in raising her two daughters and being a friend of God.