Question: I’ve heard that I should not pray for patience. Why not?
Answer: Oops! My sense of humor has caught up with me. I always tell people not to pray for patience, because when you do, God will put you into situations to test it!
In my defense, however, there is a kernel of truth to this tongue-in-cheek response. Patience (ὑπομονή - eepomonee in Greek) is a virtue. It is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22-23) – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience (longsuffering), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”
Patience, or longsuffering, is something that grows with practice. Thus, you have to be in situations that will cultivate it. In other words, you have to endure long suffering! Oops, there I go again. Sorry... A few key verses from the Holy Bible may help us understand why we all should cultivate patience.
Philippians 4:8 – Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy-- meditate on these things.
James 1:2-6 – My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work (completed work, mature work), that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.
2 Peter 1:2-11 – Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Patience is a fruit that is cultivated from a well-pruned vine that has been disciplined to yield only the best. Patience comes from discipline, and discipline from practice, or in the case of long suffering, practice, practice, practice... (I always hated practice...) But as we see from just these few verses above, patience is a virtue well worth cultivating, for not only does it help make us “complete, lacking in nothing,” but by cultivating these virtues, we may become “partakers of divine nature.”
So don’t pray for patience alone: pray that all the fruit of the Holy Spirt may be made manifest in you.