Paul is continuing with his greeting to the new church in Rome. In our reading he emphasizes how much he wants to actually see them in person instead of just through a letter. All in due time Paul.
I cannot begin to imagine how long Paul’s daily prayers were. He states in all his letters that he earnestly prays for the believers where he is sending his letters. I do not doubt his sincerity. I don’t think he would have stated, “God is my witness” unless it was really true.
It sounds almost as if Paul has been pleading with God to let him go to Rome. But God keeps saying, “No.” Actually God was saying, “Not yet.” Paul does go to Rome but it is not until it is time in God’s plan to do so.
So why does Paul want to go there so badly? He starts off by saying that he wants to see them so he can “impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you” (verse 11). But he also says it is so both he and they may be encouraged. His final reason is that he wants to “reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles” (verse 13).
Paul is not saying that this church NEEDS him personally to make them grow. He knows that there are many brothers in ministry that are building up the churches with great success. But he wants to be a part of every group he can. His heart’s desire is to share the gospel. He wants to share his testimony and own experiences with God to inspire others.
Since his confrontation with Jesus on the road to Damascus Paul is compelled to share with everyone he can. His drive can be likened to Jeremiah’s words, “But if I say, ‘I will not remember Him Or speak anymore in His name,’ Then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire Shut up in my bones; And I am weary of holding it in, And I cannot endure it” (Jeremiah 20:9). God made Paul His spokesperson to the Gentiles and he is driven to speak anywhere, anytime, and to anyone who will listen. I often think my dad “suffers” from this same “fire.”
God tells him, “A little longer Paul. Your prayers are not in vain. You will be in Rome but only in My time.” As for his prayers for all the different churches, those are GREATLY appreciated by each and every one of them. I wonder if he mentions each by name or uses a blanket prayer for all of them. I would say he tries to keep abreast of each groups difficulties, as evident in the individual instructions in his letters. I wouldn’t mind having that kind of prayer warrior on my side! I have a few but I can always use more.
Father God, I wish I had the prayer life of Paul but I fall FAR short of it. There are times I feel You ask me to step up in regard to certain issues but I don’t feel called to be the heavy duty intercessor. Did Paul have that calling along with being a missionary to the Gentiles? He had so many gifting areas.
NO prayer is ever wasted. You hear each and every one of them and You answer them too. Sometimes You say, “No.” Sometimes it’s “Not yet.” And sometimes it’s, “Yes.” You know which one I like best. I’m sure Paul preferred the latter too but he accepted the others as well. Help me recognize Your answers and stop pushing when You say “No” or “not yet.” Help me also use restraint and wisdom with the “yes” answers. Thank You for taking the time to listen to each prayer sent Your way.