Wednesday, September 23, 2009

You Want to Pray for Patience, Really?

When I used to do singles ministry, as I was a single myself, I noticed commonality in prayer life. There are lots of life events that you wait for when you are single. You wait for a husband, a house or a pet. You wait for time to start hobbies or you wait for promotions. This is not to say that you only wait. As you wait, you fill your schedule from morning until night.

I recall many a women’s group at prayer request time. Someone would say, “How can I pray for you?” Without fail the answers rung out, “Pray that I will have patience”. It is interesting how a life can be so busy and, yet, require so much patience. It is like living on both sides of a coin. They were waiting for something.

I was an oddball. Did I pray for patience? False, I did not pray for patience (said like Dwight Schrutte of The Office). This prayer terrified me. Ask God to refine you and He will. There is only one way to get that lesson and I happen to encounter it, still, every time I leave my house. I do not want an extra dose of the lesson ending in patience.

I have also noticed that young mothers do not pray for patience, and if you do maybe that is the problem. God listens and He listens perfectly. Don’t say what you don’t mean. Can’t you imagine Him sitting there thinking, “What in the world is she saying, didn’t I give her a screaming baby, yesterday?”

I have good news for all of those who bravely traverse this land of patience, however. I have found your verse. You are the righteous ones it turns out, so congratulations.

Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set ablaze and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire? 13 But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home (2 Peter 2:11-13, NRSV).

It says it all right there, what kind of persons should we be if our goal is to look more like our Lord? We need to be waiting people. We are waiting for the return of Jesus and the completion of His promise. Waiting is the active verb in these verses.

Active? Waiting can be active. Although I have been, sort of, kidding about praying for patience, this kind of waiting requires acts of patience, as I am sure you know. Our lives need to settle like a laser beam toward the future, resting only on one prize, going home. In the meantime, we actively wait.

This patience rests in righteousness and promise. It is not patience based on the what-ifs, and I wants. It is generous for God to tell us exactly what we are waiting for, so we can focus our energies on Him. Some days I have to refocus myself, more than once, to remember that my primary act of waiting is not when I start dinner.

So, will I pray for patience? Only if I mean it. I know that it is already promised to me through the Spirit. So, it is a matter of retrieval, not access. I have found that most of my patience problems come from my surrendering problems in the present. You know what I mean?

So, let’s set our laser beams on our future promise, actively waiting together.

Is there something wonderful that you are waiting for in the meantime?

Father, thank you for revealing our destiny to us. Teach us how to actively wait for your return. Fill us with this hope for your promise.

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