For more than two months, I’ve been praying for the fruit of the Spirit to grow in the life of each person in my home.
Every day, every piece: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control—all wrapped up in my One Word for 2015—fruit.
You may wonder how it’s going, if praying through Galatians 5:22-23 so regularly has made any difference. The short answer is yes, it has. But exactly how? I’m not sure I can answer that one.
People seem happier around here. There are more smiles, more hugs, more laughter. It’s noticeable to me, but I’m not about to take credit for it.
You see, I’ve lived with myself long enough to know that sometimes, when certain individuals in my house seem crabby or hard to get along with, they’re not necessarily the ones with the problem.
Other people aren’t really being difficult, it just seems like they are because I am the one who’s lacking patience that day. I’m the one who needs to be kind, or gentle, or more loving.
So when I think about if, and how, my prayers are being answered, all I can say is this. I notice a difference, but I’m perfectly willing to admit that the difference might mostly be in me.
Yes, before I started praying for the fruit, I sensed areas in my children’s lives where they had room for improvement. But I also sensed that same thing in my own life.
Is this starting to sound like a chicken-or-egg scenario? Are things going better because the fruit is taking root in me, or them? Or maybe in all of us?
It’s hard to say, so I’ll just enjoy it while it lasts. Because around here, when it comes to moods and phases and all things attitudinal, the weather can change in an instant.
But when it does, my prayers for the fruit will continue. And not just because I committed to praying this way at the beginning of the year.
You see, writing about my One Word for 2015 made me think about another season of my life when my prayers took on a similar vein, with seemingly different results.
During my years in the wilderness, when I was often anxious, irritable, overwhelmed and exhausted, I prayed for the fruit of the Spirit daily and desperately. Then I’d leave the comfort of my basement office, go upstairs and blow it two seconds after the first little person entered the kitchen.
I don’t know how much of my struggle was apparent to those who weren’t extremely close to me. But when I looked at myself in the mirror of my heart, I didn’t like what I saw one bit.
At the time, I didn’t fully realize that what I was experiencing was symptomatic of the season of life I was struggling through. That doesn’t excuse all my actions and reactions, but it certainly explains the feelings behind them.
I wish I could go back and unspeak every frustrated, irritated word. I wish I would have gone slower, enjoyed people around me more, not gotten so upset when one thing was out of place.
At times, it seemed to me that my prayers for the fruit of the Spirit were having no effect. But in retrospect, I’m pretty sure I was wrong about that.
I’ve come to think, What if I hadn’t been praying that verse? How bad might it have been then?
Those might seem like negative questions, but to me, they are actually quite redemptive. They remind me that God is always present and working, that His efforts often are undetectable (at the time, at least), that His sanctification schedule usually doesn’t match mine.
What if I hadn’t been praying for the fruit back then? I’ll never know, of course. But I do know this. “He who began a good work in (me) will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)
That’s the truth I hold on to, when my prayers seem like they’re being answered, and especially when they don’t.