It is natural for missionary or preacher to bring prayer requests before a congregation. This section contains the prayer requests of an Apostle to a New Testament Church.
Paul, The Apostle to the Gentiles
(e) Roman Prayers
Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me; That I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judaea; and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints; That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed. Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.
It is characteristic for pastors and missionaries to present prayer requests to God’s people. As Paul concludes this section where he explains his own vision and plans for future service he brings forward items for prayer. As he issues this appeal he teaches us not only what we should prayer for but also how we should pray.
1: The Character of their Prayer
The Appeal for Prayer – The word “beseech” would indicate that Paul believed it was absolutely necessary that God’s people should be in prayer. God’s servants cannot labour effectively without the prayers of God’s people in the church.
The Avenue of Prayer – We are here taught to pray for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ. Using all of our Lord’s blessed titles Paul in few words shows the way to God, through our only mediator.
The Ability for Prayer – The love of the Spirit is another factor in true prayer. Only prayers energised by the Holy Spirit will succeed. He is the Spirit of Love. We need a spiritual love for the work and for those whom we pray for.
The Agony in Prayer – The Romans were encouraged to “strive” in their praying. The Greek word is synagonizomai. The word consists of syn meaning with and agonizomai. This is the word from which agony is derived but which means much more. An athletic contest was an agonizomai. Likewise this word in its forms as noun and verb was used of battles and warfare (2nd Timothy 4:7). It described Christ’s intensity in Gethsemane (Luke 22:44). Prayer is a battle and it is only by perseverance that we can win the blessing.
“I must pray, pray, pray. I must put all my energy and all my heart into prayer. Whatever else I do, I must pray.” (RA Torrey).
The Attachment through Prayer – The prayer of the Church could only be effective when they strove “together”. Unity is a vital ingredient in the prayer life of the Church. They would also be united with Paul who prayed many miles away. The man who taught the people to pray was praying himself. He would pray with the Roman Christians.
2: The Content of their Prayer
Paul’s Admission – The greatest Missionary Apostle was not too proud to admit that he needed to be prayed for.
Paul’s Apprehension – It is clear that he had deep concerns about travelling to Jerusalem, because of the intense hatred n the heart of the Jews not only towards the Gospel towards him personally. There were deep forebodings in many hearts that the trip to Jerusalem would not go well (Acts 21:10-14). Fears are natural and teach us our need of prayer.
Paul’s Activity – He was anxious to complete his work in Jerusalem and deliver the gift that he had raised among the churches in Greece. It is important that God’s servants complete their work through prayer.
“I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom, and that of all about me, seemed insufficient for the day” (Abraham Lincoln).
Paul’s Acceptance – He was anxious that the gift he raised would be accepted by the saints in Jerusalem. There is no-one who does not fear rejection. In the case of missionaries and pastors rejection by the people means that their ministry has no value. Acceptance by the people is proof of God’s continued blessing; therefore he asked that his service be accepted in Jerusalem among the Christians.
Paul’s Attitude – Finally he pleaded with them to pray that he would then be able to visit Rome, by the will of God. He had made his travel plans but he wanted them to be sanctified by the will of God through prayer. He is also wanting them to prepare for his visit prayerfully. Then they will be refreshed though his ministry when he finally arrived.
Paul concluded this very personal passage with a benediction. He often concludes his letters in this manner, praying that God’s blessing and peace would be the portion of God’s people. The enjoyment of the God of peace is a truly Christian and Gospel experience.