by Jess Hatton, MA, LCMHC
“First I thank 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.” (Romans 1:8-10, English Standard Version)
“Let love be genuine, Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” Romans 12:9-13
Over the past few weeks I’ve been reading through Romans. I’ve been struck by numerous points as I’ve read, but one of the things I’ve been most convicted of is prayer for my fellow believers as well as unbelievers. Paul, writing to the Roman church and in its complexity it is Paul’s most comprehensive books on the salvation of Jesus Christ. It is so focused on the Gospel in fact that the long used evangelism tool The Roman Road is derived from verses throughout the book. Since he is so focused on the saving power of the gospel to both Jews and Gentiles it makes sense why prayer is so important. But, myself, I like many others I’ve talked to struggle with prayer. Matt Chandler hypothesized in a recent message to The Village Church that perhaps one of the main reasons that we in the western church don’t pray is because “we view prayer as passive”. He went on to ask “Is our unfruitfulness proportionate to our un-prayerfulness?” (excuse me a moment while I take a deep breath from that punch in the gut). The truth of that hurts.
I’m sure my time in the pandemic has been like many of your own, filled with a combination of chaos and beauty. And as a mom of three littles I’ve tried hard to emphasize loving people in the NOW despite being confined to our home. But as we have struggled to minister to people outside of our home, and to share the gospel with those who are lost, it somehow became about what we were doing, instead of what and for whom we were praying. My point: even in our limited abilities and situations we have unlimited access to the Father through Jesus Christ. Let us not also miss the fact that Paul is writing to the church in Rome from Corinth. He is not present with them to minister in person. This means that we never have to leave home to pray for those who are hurting, who are lost. Prayer is the front line of battle and is far from being passive! How much more power the church would have if believers would pray! Prayer calls upon the Holy Spirit to move and act. Here are just a few points from the above scriptures.
- Paul always thanks God for the church and his fellow believers. Romans 1:8
- He prays without ceasing. Romans 1:9
- He asks humbly for the ability to minster in person. 1:10
- He calls the church to do everything in love and to pray constantly.
Jess Hatton, MA, LCMHC