• esperar = expect:
O professor espera um trabalho acadêmico de todo estudante. (The professor expects a term paper from every student.)
• esperar = wait:
Estamos esperando uma remessa do banco. (We are waiting for a remittance from the bank.)
• esperar = hope:
Todo participante espera vencer o concurso. (Every participant hopes to win the contest.)
It could be that you see "isto" less often because Brazilians tend to ignore the strict difference between "isto" and "isso" and simply use "isso" instead.
The sentence "Eu tenho esperado por este/esta" sounds incomplete, and even if it can be used it is probably better translated as "I have been waiting for this xxx" (where xxx is the thing you have been waiting for: letter, money, parcel etc).
The strict difference between "isto" and "isso" is not very subtle. If you ask "O que é isto?" you are talking about something near you. If you ask "O que é isso?" you are talking about something near the person you are talking to. And finally, "O que é aquilo?" refers to something some distance from both of you. It's just that, in speech, Brazilians have simplified the rules and tend to use "isso" (for this), "aquilo" (for that) and don't use "isto" much.
See Danmoller's notes for more discussions on this subject: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/6331998
Duo dictionary has these two sentences:
Eu espero que ele espere por mim.
Eu espero que ele me espere.
Esperar has three definitions. I've read that "esperar" meaning "to expect" (I expect that the match will be close.) usually omits "por". In a reddit discussion, comments indicated "por" was optional when used to say "esperar" = "to wait".