My dad always jokingly told me to never pray for patience. He’d laugh and say I’d be put in the most trying situations should I be praying for patience. I think he knew I’d struggle to handle it with grace as I easily became frustrated in slow traffic, projects that took longer than my allotted time frame, and anything that wasn’t happening the second I wanted it to. Asking God for patience wouldn’t magically make those situations easier; it would actually make those situations more frequent as God would be giving me opportunity to be patient. My dad knew my prayer for patience would challenge my extreme impatience.
Patience for me would be absolutely impossible to achieve on my own. I’ve tried mustering up patience in my own might when waiting in a line at the grocery store or for my husband to come home for dinner. Inevitably, I fail every time and escape to my phone in anxiousness or lash out in anger. If I want patience to abound in my life, I need God to grow it in me. I need the Holy Spirit to be so present in my life that as a result it flows out of me.
Be still and wait
More frustrating than backed up traffic or a grocery store line that is taking a little too long is waiting on a God whom we can’t see, talk to face to face, or often verbally hear. We want to know the exact course for our life but God doesn’t often give us an extensive outline for our lives and the world. We think it would be easier if He did, but in actuality it is to our great benefit that He doesn’t work this way.
We often don’t understand the benefit of waiting on God the way that those whom God gave the gift of writing the Bible. The psalmist David knew the value of waiting on God when it seems like He isn’t doing anything for those who love him. “Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes. Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper–it leads only to harm. For the wicked will be destroyed, but those who trust in the Lord will possess the land.” Psalm 37:7-9 When nothing seems to be going as it should, we shouldn’t get mad. We should wait. David knew God ultimately was in control of both the righteous and unrighteous. Getting upset isn’t going to help anything, but being patient, waiting on God to act, is evidence of our trust in Him and will ultimately bring us reward.
The Old Testament prophet Isaiah also knew of the benefits of patience. In Isaiah 40:31, he penned, “but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not grow weary: they shall walk and not faint.” Rushing around trying to make God act will only exhaust us. God is so much more powerful and wise than we are. He does the right thing in the right time. While we think that life would work better if he did this now and that sooner, we can’t see the grand scheme of the world the way He can. If we are patient, we can find the rest and strength we need to continue on and thrive in the way he intends for us.
Paul again reiterates the need for patience in a Christian’s life. In Galatians 6:9, he told the church, “let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Perseverance and patience are necessary to live as God intended for us. We must wait on the Lord while we serve Him with seemingly no benefit. We shouldn’t stop or give up because it doesn’t look like God even notices our service. To those given the free gift of salvation, God will always reward their obedience to Him in due time. It maybe be on this earth, but it would be even greater the reward if God waited to give it to us in heaven. I honestly don’t fully know what a heavenly reward may look like, but as I read the Bible, I am more and more convinced it is worth waiting for.
Reward and strength wait for those who wait. Patience is an aspect of the fruit of the Spirit, and I know this because in my life when I have mustered up my own patience, I have utterly failed. I need the character of God Himself to flow out of me so that I can wait. We shouldn’t be afraid to pray for patience then because its not solely on our shoulders to act it out. If we have the Holy Spirit living in us, with Him, we can patiently wait. Let us pray confidently for patience then! Through the supernatural patience gifted to us by the Holy Spirit in us, we can find renewal, strength, and treasure far beyond what we would ever know by impatiently pushing our own way.