“Wrestling With Romans”
The Need for Prayer – (Chapter 15 Verses 23-33)
An appeal for prayer finishes the penultimate chapter (vv30-33). That the fruit of the love of Christ’s Spirit in them (Romans 5.5). It would direct and enthuse them, as congregations, to pray for Paul (v30).Paul understood he was walking into a den of lions (v31). For not only in Jerusalem, but the whole country of Judea was full of these persecuting Jews, who hated Christ and his gospel. Yet for all this Paul was compelled to go, he could do no other (Acts 20.22-23), in spite of the Holy Spirit expressly telling him he would suffer for it. At this time of writing, had the Spirit already spoken, and is that why he asks for prayer here? But there’s another concern for Paul, and that’s that his ministry may be acceptable amongst God’s people. Why of course it will, you say! Well, Paul knew only too well there had been a lot of evil talk about him, especially the way he had been receiving Gentiles into the Church (Acts 21.21), believe me, religion dies hard, and now here he is, bringing Gentile money to relieve them. The leaders, James and others, received him with warmth (Acts 21.17), but warned him of how much he had been slandered, and how that gross untruth needed to be quashed. Paul needed faith, and lot’s of it, and the prayers of these Roman saints too.
The human heart of Paul longs for the Jerusalem job to be over (v32-33), and that in the will of the Lord there amongst them he will be refreshed (v32). Because in the Roman Church there was no harassment, no danger, but a lovely, quiet haven of rest, everything a Church should be. This is no pity-party, but a man who sees himself storm-tossed, battling on in the work of the gospel, and sees directly in front of him nothing but more trouble. And over and beyond it, he sees this haven, he longs for the day when he will touch down on the tarmac at Rome and rest awhile. Ephesus he left in uproar (Acts 20.1), the Galatians had to have the sharp edge of his pen, and he longs for rest. But then this is a picture of the Christian ministry really in any day. So you see how Paul needs the prayers of those Christians who are going on with the Lord? You see how Christian ministers and evangelists need your prayers today, for exactly the same reasons? There are always those who are opposing them, dragging them back and down, keeping them from the real work of ministering Christ to those who need the gospel. Pray for God’s servants today (Ephesians 6.19-20; Colossians 4.3-4; 1Thessalonians 5.25).
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1997)