During training for YouthWorks, a letter was read to the aspiring Kids Club Coordinators from a former Coordinator. You could gather from her letter that she had a wonderful and challenging experience facilitating Kids Club. She had much to pass along, but her first piece of advice was to pray for bottomless patience. Having been through the Kids Club gauntlet once before, I could easily empathize with the sentiment. Patience is crucial in dealing with groups of rowdy children and teens. However, I began to wonder what it meant to pray for “patience,” or really to pray for any character trait. The more I thought about it, it almost seemed nonsensical ask God for anything when He has already given us everything He has–Himself.
First, it is important to note that 1 Corinthians 6:19 tells us we are “temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in [us].” The very being of God is resides within us, and through Him we are able to live as He desires.
But what else do we know about God? 1 John 4:9 tells us that God is love. God’s very being is characterized by love. But I don’t think that God is exclusively characterized as love, as we know from 1st Corinthians 13 that “love is patient, and love is kind…” meaning that God is patient, and God is kind.
Furthermore, we could stretch this logic all the way through the Fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. This fruit (notice: singular, not fruits) is not the result of following the Spirit of God within us, but is the essence of the Spirit of God within us! God is love; God is patience; God is kindness; God is all of these traits wrapped into one unintelligible word.
So what does it mean to pray for patience? Are we asking God for anything more than He has already given us? We are empowered to be patience, to be kind, to be loving, because God is love, and God is patience, and God is kindness. God has equipped us already with bottomless patience through His eternal being who is patience.
So I prayed for bottomless patience, and God gave me plenty of opportunities to be patient. But He did not give me patience, because He already gave me Himself. Every act of patience on my behalf was only capable because God had already given Himself, and so He gets all the glory for my obedience.
And so, as we pray for God to give us love, or for God to give us joy, or for God to give us patience, know that He already did when He gave Himself.