The Productive Prayer Life of Paul-Romans 1:8-15
We now come to the prayer life of the apostle Paul, which is very instructive.
We will select four intercessory prayers he offered up to the Father for the Roman, Ephesian, Philippian and Colossian Christian communities.
In Romans 1:8, Paul states to the believers in Rome that he thanks the Father for them in prayer because of their faith, which was well-known throughout the Rome Empire.
Romans 1:8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world. (NASB95)
“First” is the adverb of degree proton which expresses a priority in the prayer and spiritual life of the apostle Paul, which was thanking the Father for the Roman believers.
The causal clause “because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world” gives the reason why Paul thanked the Father for the believers in Rome.
“Your faith” refers to the faith of the Roman believers in the Word of God after justification, which demonstrated itself in obedience to the Word of God and was reflected in their conduct and Christ-like character.
The prepositional phrase “throughout the whole world” is hyperbole meaning throughout the Roman Empire.
Romans 1:9 For God, whom I serve in my spirit in the preaching of the gospel of His Son, is my witness as to how unceasingly I make mention of you, 10 always in my prayers making request, if perhaps now at last by the will of God I may succeed in coming to you. (NASB95)
Verse 9 is used to advance Paul’s statement in verse 8 by emphasizing that he makes it a habit to pray for the believers in Rome and also prays that he might be able to visit them at some point in the future.
“Unceasingly” is the adverb adialeiptos which refers to the manner in which Paul prayed for the believers in Rome indicating that he prayed for them on a “habitual” basis.
The word denotes “perseverance,” which is steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, and a state and suggests activity maintained in spite of difficulties, steadfast and long continued application.
The statement “I make mention of you” indicates that Paul prayed in generalities for the believers in Rome since he did not know their specific set of circumstances or needs.
“Always” is the adverb of time pantote, which refers again to Paul’s perseverance in prayer.
“Prayers” is the noun proseuche which literally means a “face to face audience with God the Father” and refers to the general concept of prayer that is directed toward God the Father without reference to the content of the prayer, which will be indicated by the context.
“Making request” is the verb deomai, which refers to the action of making a specific detailed request of the Father in prayer for another and thus denotes the concept of “intercessory” prayer.
In context, the expression “the will of God” is a reference to the “geographical” will of God meaning the geographical location where God wants Paul to be.
Therefore, Paul’s statement “if perhaps now at last by the will of God I may succeed in coming to you” means that if it is according to the geographical will of God for Paul to be in Rome, then God will open the doors for him to be there.
Whenever Paul intercedes in prayer for the believers in Rome, he always made the specific request of the Father that he might visit them.
In Romans 1:11, Paul writes to the believers in Rome that his purpose for wanting to visit them was that it had been his great desire for some time to impart some spiritual blessing to them that would strengthen their faith.
Romans 1:11 For I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established, 12 that is, that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other's faith, both yours and mine. (NASB95)
Verse 11 presents the reason why Paul prays to the Father that he might be able to visit the believers in Rome in the future.
The expression charisma pneumatikon, “spiritual gift” does “not” refer to the spiritual gifts that Paul spoke of in 1 Corinthians 12 or in Romans 12 since they were given to the believers in Rome at the moment of their justification by God the Holy Spirit (See 1 Corinthians 12).
In Romans 1:12, Paul expresses his desire that the faith of the believers in Rome and his faith would receive encouragement through the impartation of this “spiritual gift.”
This indicates that the “spiritual gift” is a reference to the communication of the Word of God in the form of some spiritual insight that Paul received from the Holy Spirit since in Romans 10:17 Paul teaches that faith comes by hearing the Word of Christ.
The expression “spiritual gift” in Romans 1:11 can be translated “spiritual blessing.”
“Established” is the verb sterizo, which means that Paul desired to communicate the Word of God to the believers in Rome in order to cause them to become stronger in their faith and stabilized in their relationship with God.
Consequently, this would produce greater obedience and consequently, greater spiritual growth.
In fact, in Romans 16:25-27, Paul writes to the believers in Rome that God the Father would establish (sterizo) them according to the communication of his gospel and the proclaiming of Jesus Christ and the mystery doctrine of the church age.
In Romans 1:12, Paul is speaking of the “companionship” aspect of fellowship, which is the interchange or communication (communion) that exists among companions, those associated together through a relationship they hold in common.
In Romans 1:11, Paul expresses his great desire to impart a spiritual blessing to the believers in Rome that would strengthen their faith but in Romans 1:12 he qualifies this statement, which taken by itself, could be interpreted to make him appear conceited.
Therefore, Paul is saying that when he is together with the believers in Rome that they will be mutually encouraged by one another’s faith.
He is saying I will encourage you and you will encourage me by the exercise of our spiritual gifts and fellowship with one another.
Paul is saying to the Romans that your faith encourages me and I am a stronger Christian as a result.
In Romans 1:13, Paul states to the believers in Rome that it had been his intention to visit them in order to reap a harvest among them but his evangelistic work and care and concern for the churches he had established from Jerusalem to Illyricum had prevented him from doing so.
Romans 1:13 I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that often I have planned to come to you (and have been prevented so far) so that I may obtain some fruit among you also, even as among the rest of the Gentiles. (NASB95)
The epexegetical clause “that often I have planned to come to you” completes the thought that Paul began with the statement “I do not want you to be unaware, brethren” and defines what he doesn’t want his readers to be ignorant of.
The fact that Paul had planned to visit the believers in Rome is confirmed by his statement recorded in Acts 19:21 towards the end of his third missionary journey.
A comparison of the parenthetical clause “and have been prevented so far” in Romans 1:13 and Paul’s statements in Romans 15:13-25 reveal that his evangelistic activity and his care and concern of the churches he established had prevented him from visiting the Roman churches.
Once Paul had delivered the contribution from the churches in Macedonian and Achaia to the poor in Jerusalem, he would be free to visit the believers in Rome.
Paul eventually reached Rome but not in the way he might have expected since he arrived as a prisoner of the Roman government and was appealing his case to Caesar as a Roman citizen (Acts 27:1-28:16).
“Fruit” is the noun karpos, which is a figurative expression for the production of Christ-like character that is accomplished by the Holy Spirit in the believer who is obedient to the Word of God.
Romans 1:14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. (NASB95)
In Romans 1:14, Paul’s statement reveals that he did not communicate the gospel because of personal reasons or because he liked the occupation.
But rather he felt obligated to because he was redeemed by the death of the Lord to be the Lord’s servant and the Lord bestowed upon him the unmerited spiritual communication gift of apostleship to bring about among all the Gentiles obedience to God that is produced by faith.
The fact that Paul was obligated to communicate the gospel to all men because he was a servant of the Lord who had given him the spiritual gift of apostleship to bring about obedience to God that is produced by faith in the Word of Christ indicates that Paul had a “stewardship.”
Romans 1:15 So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. (NASB95)
The expression “to preach the gospel” refers to communicating the good news to believers regarding their deliverance and victory positionally from the power of Satan, the old sin nature and the cosmic system of Satan (See Romans 5-7).
Paul greatly desires to communicate this good news to the believers in Rome so that they might appropriate it by faith and experience the victory and deliverance that the Lord Jesus Christ accomplished for them through His crucifixion, death, burial, resurrection and session.
Paul’s statement in Romans 1:15 reveals that his sense of obligation to communicate the gospel to all men was “not” a burden but rather an act of love and service for the Lord Jesus Christ and His body, the church.