I can remember in the 80’s being a part of an amazing small group ministry and one of the jokes was: you never pray for patience. The thought was that if you did, you were asking for trouble. I can remember times praying in a circle and someone would mention the P word and everyone would start saying, “NO! Don’t pray for patience. Anything but patience.!” We would all laugh and then go back into the seriousness of our prayer time totally avoiding that word at all costs.
Looking back on those times and the prayers of today, I think we do a disservice to those we don’t pray for patience for and ourselves. The definition of patience is the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.
We’ve been looking at this all wrong. We aren’t exactly asking for troubles or trials to come or even for God to test us, we are preparing ourselves to be overcomers before they come. The scriptures are very clear that we are going to have trials and tribulations. We are preparing our hearts to accept the lessons we will be learning in the School of Hard Times. And we are asking God to help us accept these things without getting angry and upset. Could you imagine what being in traffic would look like if we applied this prayer to our life?
I don’t know about you but almost every time, and I am not kidding, that I go shopping, I pick the slowest line to stand in. I always tell those I am with that they might want to go stand in a different line because no matter where I go someone has a problem ahead of me. Getting angry doesn’t change things. It would just make me look like the foolish one. So I bring my phone and play a game in line lol. I have learned the art of patience at the School of Line Standing!
James 1:2-4Amplified Bible (AMP)
2 Consider it nothing but joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you fall into various trials. 3 Be assured that the testing of your faith [through experience] produces endurance [leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace]. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result and do a thorough work, so that you may be perfect and completely developed [in your faith], lacking in nothing.
I’m reading this book called 31 Days of Healing and the author says, “You see, tests and trials don’t perfect you. It what’s you do with them that counts.”
Maybe we need to rethink this a bit. If patience is going to mature me, give me peace and completely develop my faith, shouldn’t we be saying, “And you’re doing this why Lord?” The word says in other versions to count it all joy…..did you catch the word ALL? That one kind of hurts a little bit. The Lord knows we are going to have pain and sorrow but this scripture is telling us to look ahead and not to stay stuck in the pain.
One of the meanings of the word joy is calm delight. So we don’t have to jump up and down when we are experiencing hard times. But we can calmly delight in the fact that God’s plans are not to harm us but prosper us, to give us hope and a future. (Jer 29:11)
So the next time you hear someone say, “Don’t pray for patience!” Ask them if they would like to be angry and mad or calmly delighting in their next trial.