The Transformation of our Community Through Prayer
First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.
When we pray for people, God is letting us in on some activity that is far beyond what we can see. God is sovereign over all, and doesn’t need anything, but regularly yields or reacts to people’s requests. He did this over and over for Moses, Joshua, Gideon, David, Joseph, Naomi, Paul, Esther, Peter, Ruth, and Jesus. If all of these people prayed and asked God to change something, we are in good company when we do the same.
Paul was always mentioning the Roman church in his prayers. We don’t know what they looked like or what he said. Maybe it was “Thanks for the Romans, Lord,” or “Lord, the Romans need you today, please help them.” It may have been thanksgiving or requesting, but it was frequent and often prayer on their behalf.
The unintended progression is spelled out in these few verses. Paul was thankful for them. Then he prayed for them. Then he wanted to see them. Then he wanted to serve them and give them something. Then he knew they would give him something too and they would be mutually encouraged.
- Mutual and equal encouragement and help
What if all of our mission efforts and outreaches worked like that? They would probably be as successful as the church in Rome would ultimately become. Good or bad, within 250 years of this writing, Rome was the political center of the church and the Gospel was being proclaimed in one way or another throughout a third of the world.
From thanksgiving to mutual encouragement. That’s what Christ does in us as we pray for one another.