I recently had the opportunity to encourage a fellow believer to be patient in a certain situation he was facing. I finished the conversation by telling him I would be be praying for him in that area, and he responded by saying, “Me too!” Later in the day, as I was thinking back over the conversation, I was reminded of my friend's final comment, and wondered if he had meant he would be praying for patience in his own life, along with me - or if he would be praying for patience in my life. It wasn't clear, and so I decided he must have been saying he would pray for patience in his own life, because I hadn't indicated I was in need of more patience.
However, today as I sat in an unexpected traffic jam, watching the clock tick away, knowing I was going to be late for an appointment, I reversed my decision and hoped that he was indeed praying for my patience, because it turns out I needed it after all.
The truth is, we all need prayer for patience, because every day it seems that we have opportunities for our patience to get tested. And unfortunately, it’s not an attribute we can learn simply by reading about it. Instead, it’s a quality that can only be acquired through persistence, endurance, and practice. But the Bible tells us it's something we need to strive for, going so far as to remind us in Galatians 5 that we need to “let the Holy Spirit guide your lives - producing this kind of fruit in your lives: love, joy, peace, patience…”.
In writing this, Paul reveals what we should all understand - that our level of patience has a direct correlation to our faith in God’s timing, omnipotence, and love. When we're impatient, we’re actually communicating to God that we're not happy with how He's directing our lives - even down to the smallest thing, like sitting in traffic. It's like a friend of mine who used to say that he was the most patient person he knew - as long as everything was going his way.
So if we're struggling with patience, I think the first thing we need to do is look at how selfish we're being. Are we pushing through the day with our own agenda - trying to make things happen on our timing, and the way we want things to happen? If so, we're going to end up frustrated - either with things, or people, or situations that God will put in our way to slow us down and get our attention. And He wants our attention so that we can do what He has planned for us during the day, and He can continue the work He’s doing in transforming our lives to look more like Him.
So today let's ask God to help us with our patience. Let’s slow down, refocus on God, and ask Him what He wants to do with our day - and ultimately, with our lives. Once we get the focus off of us and back on Him, our impatience will fade away as we submit ourselves to His good and perfect plan for our lives.