PRAYERS FOR PATIENCE

In these prayers for patience below, we ask for our Lord’s help in bearing with troubles, large and small, with this important virtue, one of the twelve fruits of the holy spirit and the “companion of wisdom”, according to St. Augustine. God has certainly shown a great deal of patience in dealing with fallen humanity. These prayers remind us of how we can, and should, also try to imitate Him in putting up with each other as He’s done with us, especially in His Passion!

The first prayer references “the enemy,” Satan, the once beautiful angel known as Lucifer, who fell from heaven “like lightning” (Luke 10:18) after rebelling against God. Christ's suffering, in his life among us and on the cross, helped to defeat not only sin and death, but also the devil's pride.

O God, who didst crush the pride of the enemy by the long-suffering of Thine Only-begotten Son: grant, we beseech Thee, that we may worthily recall those things which in His tender love He bore for us; and thus following His example may patiently endure all our adversities.

The second of these prayers for patience, while a bit longer, brings up many things we need to take into account before losing our cool in trying situations:

Teach me, my Lord, to be sweet and gentle in all the events of my life, in disappointments, in the thoughtlessness of others, in the insincerity of those I trusted, in the unfaithfulness of those on whom I relied. Let me forget myself so that I may enjoy the happiness of others. Let me always hide my little pains and heartaches so that I may be the only one to suffer from them. Teach me to profit by the suffering that comes across my path. Let me so use it that it may mellow me, not harden or embitter me; that it may make me patient, not irritable; that it may make me broad in my forgiveness, not narrow or proud or overbearing. May no one be less good for having come within my influence; no one less pure, less true, less kind, less noble, for having been a fellow traveler with me on our journey towards eternal life. As I meet with one cross after another, let me whisper a word of love to You. May my life be lived in the supernatural, full of power for good, and strong in its purpose of sanctity. Amen.

And, finally, along these lines, we have a short prayer that can be easily memorized and can come in handy when you’re having car trouble, problems with your family, or difficulties at work:

My dearest Jesus, teach me to be patient, when all day long my heart is troubled by little, but troublesome crosses.

Patience is necessary in so many situations, such as while waiting on a very slow line at the Post Office; in dealing with relatives and co-workers; or in trying to find work in this troubled economy. It is also an important antidote to anger. Our faith recognizes patience as the corresponding virtue to fight that vice, which is one of the seven deadly sins.

Keep in mind here, when we refer to anger we’re not saying that you should never feel displeasure when mistreated nor try to defend yourself or loved ones from injustice. It’s what you do with your anger that matters. Do you let it simmer? Does it cause you to relish harsh judgments? Do you nurse grudges, or can you, with God’s help and grace, let them go?

As we read in the second of these prayers for patience above, it is all too easy for us to become hardened or embittered by others’ slights against us. Scripture often warns us against this, most famously in the Lord's Prayer and in Jesus' admonition to forgive sins “not seven times but seventy times seven” (Matt. 18:22). As Christ also put it most tellingly “if you do not forgive [others] neither will your Father in heaven forgive you your offense” (Mark 11:26).

The late President John F. Kennedy once noted famously that which we all already know: “Life is unfair.” And yet, as all three of these prayers remind us, who knows more about the unfairness of this world than our Lord? Unjustly executed for a crime He did not commit, preaching a ministry of Love only to be spat on, scourged, and crucified!

And yet he endured His misery on the cross for our redemption. As these prayers for patience note, in keeping with St. Paul (Col. 1:24), we are called to offer up our sufferings for salvation in imitation of Christ. (We have some more thoughts on this subject here.)

Thus, whether it’s a petty annoyance, such as having to wait online forever at the Department of Motor Vehicles, or something more serious, such as waiting to hear the results of a medical test, we are counseled to show patience, so that we might better bear with equanimity both the good and bad things that happen to us.

We also have to have patience with our own flaws and foibles as well. As St. Francis de Sales once wrote “Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections, but instantly set about remedying them--every day begin the tasks anew.”

This isn’t easy, of course. Jesus never promised that our earthly pilgrimage would be. But if we turn to Him constantly in prayer and in sincerely seeking His will, He’ll help see us through our rough patches with His grace.

However, if you’re always impatient with others, and let anger and resentments fester, you might wind up with more heartache (and heartburn as well, perhaps) than you would have otherwise, in any case. We hope these prayers for patience can help you keep calm as you offer up your problems to the Lord!

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