I’ve been warned about praying for patience. I keep thinking it’s something so good to ask for until I realize that the patience prayer involves practicing what you’ve prayed for (please say that ten times fast). I’m pretty sure I’ve written about this before, but to refresh our memories, I think patience is more a learned habit then a gift. You have to work at it, like any other discipline. Now, I don’t have the theological backing to prove my point (it’s something I will definitely be researching in the coming months), but I can offer you some empirical evidence.
I don’t know about you, but I keep wishing my life away rather than embracing the moments at hand. I’m probably just having one of those boo-hoo kind of days, after spending a week with three incredible girls, all involved in amazing relationships headed toward marriage. I’m asking God if I’ve missed something. Maybe I’m doing something wrong? I was never the girl planning my wedding since age 6. You all know I haven’t been in a relationship. It’s not something that’s number one on my priority list. But sometimes I start to wonder how this is all going to play out.
But maybe I should be telling myself it’s what I’ve done right, not where I went wrong. I keep asking for patience. I keep asking for more of the Lord. “Boys” and the “idea of a relationship” seem to be perfect answers to these prayers: I’m waiting for someone, giving me opportunity to be patient, and if he was here right now, he would distract me from the time I requested to know God more intimately. I’ve never before seen it this way.
…and it kind of makes my head hurt.
Once again, God reveals a small aspect of His character: He doesn’t do things the way we think He should. The reward of patience is remaining satisfied whether you receive the something you’re waiting for, or not. And I’m not talking about seeing the promises of God fulfilled. I’m talking about our own dreams and desires: the kinds of things we’d like to microwave and hurry along. I think there is a point to intercession and praying for some things until we see God move. But even then, our timetable is not the dictator. It’s dedication in the right place.
What is my motive? Am I pursuing Him to get to know His heart, or am I doing it to get my prayer answered? Am I seeking His face to know why He created me for this time and season, or am I spending that time complaining about how slowly this season is moving along? Ouch. I’m super convicted.
Hear me out: I’m not saying that you shouldn’t make your requests known to God. We totally have that amazing channel of communication open to us. Psalm 55:22 reminds us to cast our cares upon the Lord and He will sustain us. Philippians 4:6 says that everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, should be brought to the ear of the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 is a reminder to “rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances.”
God wants to know our deepest thoughts and desires and requests. The kicker is we have to allow Him to answer us in His time. And again, there are exceptions to this rule. I mean, Moses, through intercession, did change God’s mind regarding the destruction of Israel (Exodus 32). I quickly looked up some commentary on the passage and one author (whose name I can’t seem to find) said, “God’s repentance as a result of Moses’ prayer reflected His great intimacy with Moses and demonstrates that God values relationships and allows those He loves to influence His actions.” (Source Credit)
God values the relationship. While I would think this whole desire to be married (for example) falls quite a bit lower on the totem pole of importance compared to the salvation of Israel, God still cares. As I’ve written about time and time again, He is after our heart. He wants the best for us, and will often times allow us to experience difficulty to make this point. I know it sounds backwards and crazy, but it seems to be God’s MO.
I prayed for patience: I now have opportunity to practice. I asked to know Him deeper: He’s given me ample time to begin the discovery.