The devil seemed to sense impatience in John the Baptist as he was being held in prison before his death. Impatience is the inability to wait or bear afflictions calmly. And when we grow impatient with God—eager to receive answers from Him—and we mix impatience with faith, our attitude in prayer becomes a “strange incense” to the Lord. It fills our being, His temple, with a noxious odor. And instead of sending up a sweet-smelling incense of prayer, we exude a foul smell. Satan picks up this scent quickly.

Impatient believers are offended when they see God working miracles all around them but not in their lives. They’re offended at what they believe is God’s slowness to answer them, and over time they feel neglected and imprisoned. Hebrews tells us such impatience is a form of spiritual laziness: “Be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Hebrews 6:12). We are instructed to follow Abraham’s example: “After he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise” (6:15).

Scripture also tells us that “the Word of God tried [Joseph]” (see Psalm 105:17-19). Likewise today, God’s promises can try us at times, and if we don’t add patience to our faith during these trials, we’ll end up being offended at God. Proverbs 18:19 states, “A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle.” The Hebrew word for offended as used here means to “break away, apostatize.” In other words, when we’re offended by God, there is a danger of spinning out of faith completely. And the longer we hold on to our offense, the harder it becomes to break through our prison bars of unbelief.

Yet James 1:2–4 gives us the cure: “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”