In recovery meetings, I have often heard this expression, "be careful what you pray for, you may get it." That is said when the topic of patience, or some other virtue is discussed. The idea is that God will answer that prayer, and you will begin to go through a barrage of situations that are painful, and the result is we become very patient. We believe God will answer that prayer, but not prayers for help when we're in trouble. In spite of their warning, I feel the worst thing I can do is cower in fear from what may or may not happen, and stifle my development as a follower of Christ in recovery. Not only do I want to pray for patience, but for my daily needs without fear of what opposition I face from the evil one.
I am reminded of the story in Daniel 3, about the 3 Hebrew friends of Daniel that refused to bow before king Nebuchadnezzar, acknowledging him as God. The penalty: death in the furnace of fire. King N said to the boys,
"who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?" They respond to the king, ..."we have no need to answer you in this matter, if that is the case, OUR GOD WHOM WE SERVE is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and HE WILL deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image (of himself) which you have set up." King N then heated the furnace 7 times hotter than normal and had the Hebrews thrown in. The furnace heat was so intense, the men who threw the boys in perished.
That is resolve. that is facing fear head on knowing their confidence was in God, not themselves. They weren't praying at all, they weren't saying to God, Lord give us patience with this mean old king. When they were led to the furnace, they were not saying, "I knew we shouldn't have prayed for patience. Look where we are now, why did we pray that?" They stood tall in faith knowing the God they served would deliver! The king looked into the fire and said, and I paraphrase, "I thought we threw 3 in, there is four I see walking around in the flames, unhurt, and that fourth one...looks like the Son of God!" The Hebrews were delivered by faith in God, unwaivering faith.
I must pray for every need I have, whether it's faith or patience, love or wisdom, or anything that brings me to the point of standing in the fires of adversity, fully confident that the God I serve is able to do exceeding, abundantly above all I ask or think. Patience is a need I have, because my fallen nature is impatient. The results of praying and being tested by fire is exactly what I need to grow to maturity as a believer, and to be complete in Christ, so I am not afraid to pray for patience, or any virtue. When the flames of adversity overwhelm me, guess Who is in the fire with me? He is there.
Do not fear praying for your needs, in fact, don't be careful in prayer, be wreckless. The God you and I serve, El Shaddai, is more than enough. If you are being tested by fire, place your trust in Him. If you are struggling with addictions, stand strong and be confident, He is your help. If the fires of adversity are blowing the flames in your direction, get the extinguisher of serving others out, and go to work helping others. You will feel the cool breeze of peace and serenity, and you will smile confidently to yourself knowing He is in the flames with you.
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all. Keith