Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality (Romans 12:11-13, NIV).
Paul’s letter to the church in Rome from the first century is often limited to a well written lesson on systematic theology. This, however, is the very reason due to which most of the letter’s today’s readers miss seeing the practical guides which make up the message. After all, Romans is a letter by a caring spiritual father to his children in the faith. Thus, after clarifying for his brothers and sisters in Christ the basics of the Christian faith Paul does not forget to also remind them how to show this faith through practice in their lives. The whole chapter 12, as well as much of the following ones, is a description of how the life of a believer ought to be like. So, before you continue reading this devotional, please, do read the whole chapter 12 of Romans (you may also read till the end of the letter).
It does not come by surprise that in the middle of this description one finds the phrase “faithful in prayer.” Multiple times already we have turned our attention to how seriously Paul takes prayer. In most Bibles there is two references attached to this phrase. These two other passages confirm the apostle’s teaching.
The first text is in Luke 18:1-8 where Jesus is teaching his disciples about faithful or continual prayer by the means of a parable. The parable is about a widow who does not cease seeking justice from an unrighteous judge in the city. Although, as the Bible tells us, the judge did not fear God, nor did he care much about people, he does respond to the widow’s request because she did not stop bothering him. Now, God, on the other hand, does not respond to your sontinuous or faithful prayers just because you won’t stop bothering Him, but because by your faithful prayers you confirm your faith and trust in God.
The second passage is found in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, which states simply “pray continually.” This verse is also a part of a larger piece of text which deals with the type of Christian life which is pleasing to God. What is noteworthy in this case is Paul’s reminder about continuous prayer towards a church which has testified of its faith in a powerful way (see 1 Thessalonians 1:7-10). This is because he knows how important the continuous prayer is, and he cannot skip over it. So do we try to remind you of this by this devotional.
If you have read the previous devotionals published on the site you will clearly know that our prayers are much more than a mere declaration of our wishes and desires before God. In fact, our own wishes and desires are far from being the foundation of the prayer God wants to hear from us. The God-pleasing prayer is our way of communication between you and Him. And just as any other communication between two persons, prayer is critical to the relationship these two persons have with each other. Our prayers (or the lack thereof) testify as to whether we have a relationship with God or not. Let us look at an example from the daily life of many young people today.
Every college or university student living and studying in a town different from where their parents live has received (at least once, but mostly more than once) a package from home. Whether this package was requested or not, it makes for a wonderful example of God’s blessings in the life of the believer. Usually, the recipient of the package will call back to their parents to say “Thank you!” – just as we thank God in our prayers. This, however, does not mean that our example student calls his family only when a package comes in! On the contrary – each and every responsible daughter or son calls their parents regularly – to share how their life is going (as a symbol of thanksgiving, but mostly out of love for the parents); to share a need; to ask how their parents are doing; to continue the relationship with the people they love. God’s Word calls us to turn to God regularly in a similar way. Not only when we have a need. Not only when we are joyful. Not only when we are hurt. Not only when we have free time to do so. Not only… Now you can finish this sentence with whatever your excuses for not praying sometimes (or often) are.
Pray honestly and continually and you will witness a growth of your faith which will reach far beyond your bravest expectations. Always put aside time for talking to God (which also means that sometimes all that you will have to do it listen!) and you will feel God’s presence with you in each and every moment, at any place. Be faithful in prayer!