“Whatever you do, don’t pray for patience!”
Have you ever heard someone say that? I know I have. It seems to be a common half-joking-but-more-serious warning, that Christians sometimes give each other. But why not pray for patience? Isn’t patience one of the fruits of the Spirit? Isn’t it a great asset in our relationships and our faith? Why shouldn’t we pray for patience? Here’s the reasoning:
“Don’t pray for patience,” people say, “because if you do, God’s going to send you a heap of trouble.”
But is that really true? Does God punish you for asking Him for patience? Does praying for patience give God a cart blanche to “Job-ify” your life by bringing you hardship?
No. Of course not.
Troubles are a part of life
In fact, Jesus made it very clear that difficulties are a part of life, including (and sometimes especially) for believers. “In the world you shall have tribulation” he said in John 16:33 If we think living a life of following God is trouble-free, we haven’t been reading our Bibles. Trials are a reality in each of our lives and they’re going to keep coming. Count on it.
As far as I can tell, “praying for patience brings trouble” logic is based in a misunderstanding of Romans 5:3-4
“And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation works patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope.” Romans 5:3-4 (AKJV)
Notice that Paul doesn’t say, “Pray for patience and God will bring tribulations (troubles).” He says glory – or be thankful – in your trouble, seeing it as an opportunity for good – patience – to come from the hardships.
Hard times are acomin’, and they will keep on coming. We have no choice about that. But we do get to decide how we respond to adversity, and our choice will either make us bitter or better.
When we decide to give thanks (glory) in the middle of every situation, we are reminded that our difficult circumstance is not for nothing. At the very least it will strengthen our ability to be patient, and endure it with grace.
by Lydia Floren