How often have we heard people say, “I need to pray for more patience?” Perhaps, you have said it yourself. Yet others will say, “You better not pray for patience,” as if the prayer may cause God to administer some sort of cosmic test. Whether they pray for it or not, trials are a normal part of a disciple’s life, which we will see in more detail. On one hand, some struggle with the way they deal with people. On the other, several struggle with how they handle circumstances. Sometimes they feed into each other. For example, those struggling with circumstances may have a difficult time being patient with people because of the stress involved with their state of affairs. To pray for patience or not to pray for patience, that is the question.
When it comes to having patience with people, known also as “longsuffering,” the issue is not a matter of prayer; it is a matter of surrender. Galatians tells us that, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23, KJV). Longsuffering is part of the fruit of the Spirit; therefore, the Spirit generates it. Since “fruit” is singular, it means that we cannot choose which of these to keep and which we may discard. Simply put, either we can surrender to the Holy Spirit or we can grieve Him. Furthermore, if longsuffering comes with the Spirit, it means we already possess it in Him. Therefore, why would we pray for something we already have? Truthfully, the key to being patient with others is love. 1Corinthians 13:1-8 Charity (Love [AGAPE]) suffereth long (is patient), and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself (boast), is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth . . . (KJV). True love is outward focused and does not act selfishly. The moment we decide our agendas are more important than others patience will evaporate. If we love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, if we love others as our self, we will have no problem being patient. Love operates by humility. It ties in with the guiding principle of deny your self, pick up your cross, and follow Me (see Matthew 16:24). By insisting on having things our way, we fail to walk in love. Essentially, as long as we walk in the flesh, we will never have patience with others. Galatians 5:16-17 puts it this way, “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would” (KJV).
When circumstances rule our lives, it is very difficult to be who need to be for God. As long as we allow them to dictate our disposition, we will be impatient. Every true disciple of Jesus Christ will submit to the Father’s chastisement in order to become more like Him (see Hebrews 12:1-29). When we pray for more patience or to be more like Jesus, the Father will answer the prayer most affirmatively. As believers, we should understand that part of answering these types of prayer include process. Meaning, He will allow us to go through difficult circumstances in order to eliminate those things that are contrary to His nature. His holy fire burns away the chaff in our lives. By walking through difficult circumstances with us, the Father teaches us to trust Him and not let our emotions reign over us. A key to standing in adverse conditions is rejoicing in Him, and asking for wisdom. James 1:2-5 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him (KJV).
1 Peter 1:3-9 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls (KJV).