“Don’t pray for patience.”
Don’t you love how people give you this advice with a chuckle and smirk on their face? Yet we all know where they’re coming from. It seems as soon as we pray for patience we pay for it with a loooooooong wait in the Chick-fil-A line. Can I get a witness?
Of course, getting stuck in the drive-thru is small beans compared to major problems, but it can be infuriating, can’t it? I confess, the other day I lost my patience because the drivers didn’t follow the two-lane drive-thru etiquette. You know, each lane takes a turn. Left then right, then left then right . . .
The guy in front of me, bless his heart, didn’t take his turn! He allowed the other lane to go in front of him. When it was my turn, the woman in the other lane bullied her way past me. Ya’ll, I was frustrated, and impatient. The worst part about it was I had nothing to do! I wasn’t in a rush, but I had no patience.
What Makes Us Impatient
What tries your patience? Is it waiting in the doctor’s office, or waiting for your 3 year old to finish her broccoli, or for God to answer your 20 year prayer? The struggle is real, isn’t it? Why are we so impatient?
According to 7 Tips for Better Patience, our culture can be blamed.
If you feel like you’re becoming less patient in recent years, you’re not alone. Cultural shifts — particularly when it comes to technology — have primed us to expect immediate gratification.Cleveland Clinic
Remember what life was like before cell phones? Remember when answering machines were connected to our land-lines, and nobody could get a hold of us until we got home and heard those messages? Now we have phones, tiny computers in our hands, that allow us to buy anything we want, order door-dash, check the latest posts on Facebook, and reach anyone quickly all at the touch of the screen.
We know we’re impatient, and why, but what do we do about it?
What to Pray for Instead of Patience
The patience promised in Galatians 5:22-23 (the list of the Fruit of the Holy Spirit) is not anything we can attain on our own. It flows from a heart surrendered and satisfied by the Lord. This satisfaction and surrender affects the way we handle the smallest irritations to the largest eternal needs. Since patience isn’t something we can manufacture, we need to pray for greater perspective. Rather than praying for patience, try praying for these three things:
- Eternal Perspective
For many of us, the most frustrating part of patience is our inability to change things. We can’t rush people, and we can’t rush God. If we can’t change it, what can we do?
Pray for Eternal Perspective
Some of us have been waiting for our dream to come true. We’re waiting for Mr. Right to show up, the cancer to be gone, or a baby to fill empty arms. When these heartaches come our way, rather than praying for patience, pray for perspective. Eternal perspective. This life is but a blimp on the map of eternity. Pray for eternal vision.
I’ve written about some really heavy-heart waiting rooms, but the need for patience can sprout up in the daily, non-earth shattering moments too. Whether stuck in traffic or waiting for your husband to finish a project started four years ago, patience is needed. Praying for an eternal perspective can help usher in peace as you wait.
This prayer helps put in perspective what’s really important. When you’re standing in front of Jesus, will it matter? Pray for eyes to see how God sees.
Pray for Understanding
Look at this powerful proverb:
“Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.”Proverbs 14:29
When we are impatient, we are quick-tempered, but this proverb gives us a secret to patience. It is understanding. Praying for understanding can steady our hearts so we’re not impatient. It might help us understand why our daughter takes forever eating her broccoli or why our spouse can’t finish a project. Understanding gives grace. It may also help find a solution.
When we’re waiting on God, we may not understand His timeline until we’re at His throne, but it’s a legitimate prayer to pray. It’s okay to ask. We can always ask God to help us understand. The answer may be a few weeks, months, or years away, but you can trust the One you’re asking.
Pray for Grace
I have two favorite prayers. One is for God to redeem and the other is for God’s grace. God gives us His grace everyday- His grace of patient lovingkindness. As we pray for grace, we are empowered to give it to others. In my experience, prayers for grace have been miraculous. When I’ve prayed for grace, my blood pressure has gone down, and my patience has overtaken my angst. His grace empowers my patience, my understanding, my eternal perspective. Grace changes things.
Look at our definitions for grace. They can easily apply to patience:
Our English word is great, but I love the Greek word even better. Charis is the “divine influence on the heart.” I love that. God’s grace changes us. And so does His Word. I am so excited about this month’s reading plan.
31 Scriptures on Patience
It may sound painful, but these 31 scriptures on patience are incredible. The Bible is filled with wisdom concerning patience. I am convinced if you soak in these scriptures for 31 days, you will be a more patient person when you’re done. You can print the list of scriptures above, or you can download the 8 page reading plan with prompts and lines to journal. Here’s a sneak peek of three of the days:
Day 2: 1 Corinthians 13: 4-5
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
- Underline “Love is patient.” We really are more patient with those we love, aren’t we? Pray to love more. It is a prayer that changes many things. Who do you need to love more?
Day 3: Romans 12:12
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
- Yikes! None of us want to be “patient in affliction.” The other definitions for this Greek word are: pressure, anguish, burden, persecution, tribulation, and trouble. This word doesn’t necessarily mean sickness. Are you going through any of these things today? Hope and Prayer can help in the patient department. Trusting God is doing a good work, working things out for good, can help us follow this exhortation from Paul. Take a breath and write a prayer of trust.
Day 4: Ephesians 4:2
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
- Oh my gosh, I love this tiny verse. It says so much. Pray for humility and gentleness as you deal with people today. Ask for eyes to see them as God does.
Download the free 31 day Bible reading plan journal with prompts to find God’s wisdom about patience.
The Promise of Patience
A few years ago as a friend prayed for me she heard God say, “Be patient.” She dreaded telling me those words, but when she did, I (surprisingly) was elated. We were both a little dumbfounded by my response, but let me explain what happened in my heart.
Rather than being frustrated when God told me to be patient, He graced my heart to know that the words, “Be patient,” held hope. They pointed to a promise. Just like when my kids were young and couldn’t wait to get to our destination, and we would tell them to be patient, God showed me His admonishment was a promise too.
Here’s the thing: We do eventually get through the Chick-fil-A line. We do finally make it to our destination. Projects do get finished–even if just before selling the house. Perspective is everything. The next time you feel impatience sneaking up on you, take a breath. Count to ten and say a prayer for eternal vision, understanding, and grace. You’ll never need to pray for patience again.