Waiting on God

Waiting on God
Waiting on God by Brian Bridge (click above for details)

The Servants of Christ the King developed a particular way of listening to the will of God in their lives and for the world, and of coming to decisions together. This way is called ‘Waiting on God’. This quiet discipline, which transforms individuals and groups into seekers of God’s will, was SCK’s chief contribution to the life of the churches.

When a group gathers to wait upon God it prays, reflects and discerns together in the following way. Once the group has settled and centred, and the leader has given a brief introduction, the group waits in silence for about half an hour. This period of silent prayer is followed by a controlled reflection, during which each person in turn is invited to share out of their silence. This sharing is received by the others without interruption or comment. Some members may choose to ‘pass’. There is then an open discussion out of which the group may come to a decision for the life and work of the company as a whole. There is a shared understanding that unanimity is required when making a decision. It is through the silence and sharing that the group comes to an awareness of attending to the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

If you like the idea — try it! Persuade at least two other people to read Brian Bridge’s booklet Waiting on God and ask them to sit down with you. Ask God to show His will to you. Set a period of silence (preferably half an hour) and then share what you have heard, in turn and without interruption, with each other. We call this Controlled Discussion. Then talk together about where you go from there and make a decision about it. If you decide to go on using this way of waiting on God, you have already started.

Starting a group to wait on God is in the hands of God, not of ourselves. He calls unexpected people and puts the idea into their heads in unplanned ways. The response (certainly my response) is often ‘What, me?’ ‘O no, God, you’ve got it wrong this time.’ ‘I don’t know anyone who would be interested.’ ‘God, please go away and ask someone more suitable.’ But God sometimes nags us until we realise that we really need to do something. If you reach this point, what might be your next steps?

Try to talk about the concept of waiting on God and especially the idea of shared silence and shared understanding whenever you get a reasonable chance to do so and not only to the people who you think are prayerful and likely to be interested. It is often the unexpected people who respond; people who are looking for a new way of exploring what the Christian faith means to them; people whose lives have been too busy for prayer and quietness but who long for it; people who are shy and find it difficult to make themselves heard.

Get people to read the Waiting on God booklet by Brian Bridge but don’t rely on it. People are attracted by personal invitation rather than by printed words. St. Andrew said ‘Come and see.’ You need to say, ‘Come and help me try it.’

When you are talking to people about waiting on God remember that apart from the basic pattern of meeting — Introduction; Silence; and Controlled Discussion — there is no right or wrong way to do things. Groups very often feel that they are not waiting on God ‘properly’ because they do or don’t act in some traditional way. But what they feel called to do and how they do it is up to them and to the Holy Spirit.

People ask questions like, ‘What is my commitment?’ ‘Do I have to come every time if I possibly can?’ Or they say, ‘This method was originally set up to give groups of Christians opportunities to tie their prayer and action together in a “common concern”, but what I need is time for quiet and sharing. I simply can’t cope with more responsibility for doing things.’

These are the kind of questions which members of groups which wait on God are asking themselves all the time. They are part of the seeking and searching and the right answer for one group will be different from another just as every Christian individual vocation is different. The core common factor is waiting on God with all the openness and longing for obedience which we can bring to the encounter. Everything else will follow.

After having talked about the idea to some individuals and got them interested, it is useful to announce an open meeting to explain the concept in more detail. You may be hoping to involve the congregations of several neighbouring places of worship. If so, try and get the announcement made in all of them. Or if you are focusing on your workplace or living place — a business, a college, a school or a neighbourhood, for example — use whatever means of publicity are suitable and available. It is important that there is no sense of being exclusive or a ‘holy huddle’. Unless the number of people who come to the meeting makes it impossible (which is not very likely) try to get them to experiment with the process there and then using the introduction about waiting on God which has been given as a lead-in to the silence. If people feel they cannot manage half an hour of silence suggest less, but not less than fifteen minutes. You will soon find that you really do need half an hour to become quiet in yourself, pray for grace to listen and hear, think about what the Holy Spirit is saying to you and seek ways or words to share it.

If, after the controlled and open discussion, there are some people who want to meet again, agree on a leader and a place and time there and then. It will usually be for the members of that next meeting to work out how they go on from that beginning.

All you need is a room, a clock or watch, at least two other people, and a willingness to wait on God together by listening to God and listening to each other. May God bless you.