I have heard many old time preachers warn against praying for patience, because doing so leads to trials. Let me clarify. By “old time preachers” I mean the genuine fire-breathing, Bible-thumping, holy-rolling hillbillies that populated the pulpits of many churches in the Ozark Mountains when I was a boy in the 1960s. These men loved the Lord and worked hard for God.
The problem is, while I was inspired by many of these preachers, they got this passage completely wrong. The epistle of James tells us to be joyful when we are faced with trials, knowing trials build patience. The reason the preachers of my childhood advised us not to pray for patience was because they feared their parishoners would fall away if faced with trials.
The truth is quite the contrary. Take a look at Exodus 20:20 and you will succinctly learn what James is talking about. God tests us because He is preparing us. He is building our faith, ridding us of our sin, preparing us for eternity. He loves us, and cannot bear to see us bound by sin.
Do not be afraid of God’s tests and trials. Don’t try to avoid them. Rather, when they come, realize that God is perfecting your faith. Be thankful, for your Father is teaching you. Trials move us away from sin and darkness and into His light. They move us from obedience based on fear to obedience based on love and commitment.
Fear Not, for God is building your faith.