"What man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?
Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?
If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give GOOD things to them that ask him?"
"If God be FOR us, who can be against us?
It's often said in jest, "oh, no; DON'T ask the Lord to teach you 'patience,'" or, "better watch out if you pray for greater faith!"
I think sometimes we're not really joking.
I think sometimes there's a real underlying fear we are foolishly inviting a world of trouble if we pray for these things, as the Lord is sure to answer our request by unleashing a hurricane of pain into our lives as we learn only at the most immense cost through God's own "school of hard knocks."
And there IS some truth to that! Borne out in my earlier post of John Newton's "Prayers Turned into Crosses," as well as the testimonies of countless people of God
But we do God (and ourselves!) a grave disservice if we cast Him in the role of mischievous old grouch who takes sadistic pleasure in watching us suffer.
"For he doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men" (Lamentations 3:33)
"In all their afflictions, HE was afflicted" (Isaiah 63:9)
"His compassions fail not . . ." (Lamentations 3:22)
We need NEVER be afraid of asking our precious Lord for patience, greater faith, endurance, or anything else! These are GOOD things that God desires in the lives of every one of His children (Galatians 5:22-23; Hebrews 12:5-14).
God loves His saints as He loves His own Son (John 17:23). He is NOT a cruel, mean-spirited father and would never give us anything that is not for our ultimate good.
It is not some foolish or dangerous enterprise to pray for patience or increased endurance or faith! It is our adoring Heavenly Father who has strategically placed that very desire on our hearts as part of His gentle, continual inner working for our own growth and transformation into the mature men and women of God He designed us to be (Philippians 2:13; Romans 8:26-39; II Peter 3:18).
If His Spirit is prompting us to ask for something that will stretch us through painful trials, it is only because God, in His infinite wisdom, knows it is in our very best interest IN VIEW OF ETERNITY, and He has personally seen to it that WE ARE READY FOR IT (Romans 8:28-30).
"When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace all-sufficient shall be thy supply;
Thy flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine."
Yes, the trials and tribulations we face can be painful in the extreme. Believe me, it can feel like your heart is being ripped right out of your chest again and again and again as your world seems to shatter into a million pieces before your very eyes.
But not a single fractured particle escapes His field of vision. And all is under His infinitely expert control and subject to the precision tuning of the Master Artisan to achieve His perfect result.
The pressure and flame of the crucible are kept to the exact optimal level throughout by His infinitely skilled hand. His Fatherly love tempers the intensity to divine specifications as His unblinking eye never for a moment leaves His beloved subject.
It is never a smidgen more than what is best (Psalm 18:30).
"God uses things that He hates to accomplish the things He loves"
-- Joni Eareckson Tada