I really enjoyed the ‘Lent for Everyone’ devotional series of blog posts that we just completed. It helped me to have a little ‘non-sermon’ Scripture to think about every day. I also got a pretty good amount of positive feedback on the posts.
I’d like to continue with a daily devotional thought and have decided to start with thoughts (and possibly links) on Paul’s prayers and prayer reports in Scripture. I made a pretty comprehensive list of these years ago, and I have often used them to provide content as I pray for others. Most of these are not actually prayers – they are reports of how Paul has been praying. But we can turn them back into prayers of our own!
So, let’s start with the first one, which is, of course, from Romans 1. I’m going to put the text in each blog post, and link to the chapter if you want to explore further on Bible Gateway.
Romans 1:8-10 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. 9God, whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you 10in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you.
This is both a typical and an unusual example of Paul’s prayers. It’s typical in that he gives thanks for them. It’s unusual in that he also prays for himself.
As you pray for people, it’s really helpful to find ways to give thanks for them. You may be praying for someone in deep need, or struggling with sin, or with real attitude and behavior problems. But God says to give thanks in all things, and Paul’s example shows that he thought about giving thanks for everyone he wrote to. So look for something to give thanks for.
In this case – and this is borne out in the letter – Paul is well able to give thanks for the faith that the Christians in Rome have displayed, and which has become well known. This is the first instance of something we’ll find over and over in Paul’s prayers – that he focuses on character and heart issues to the almost complete exclusion of circumstantial issues. And that is a great model for us as we pray for others, since we tend to focus on circumstances.
But that makes Paul’s second prayer even more unusual: he prays for his own circumstances, that God would open a door for ministry to the Romans. It’s still not a self-centered prayer: he tells them later that he has long felt led to come to them, but God has not yet allowed that door to open. He’s still praying, though, and he wants them to pray as well.
I looked too long for some media to go with this and didn’t really find much. But this Thanksgiving Song by Mary Chapin Carpenter is at least people-focused, as Paul was. So is this Don Henley song, My Thanksgiving. Henley was lead singer of the Eagles back in the day.