There are at least 43 prayers of Paul reflected in scripture. We already discussed his first recorded prayer in the book of Acts. The rest are found in his epistles.
They reflect the whole of his life in Christ. Not once is there found a prayer of him struggling with sin, his sinful nature, or spiritual defeat.
Instead, his prayers abound in the beauty of holiness, standing firm, righteous in battle, all the while abounding in the peace of God.
These prayers are a picture of an abundant and victorious life in Christ that was often beset by persecution from the enemies of God.
Here we will look at one of six prayers found in Romans.
Now the God of hope fill you with all joy
and peace in believing,
that ye may abound in hope,
through the power of the Holy Ghost
~ Romans 15:13
And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy;
as it is written,
For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles,
and sing unto thy name.
And again he saith,
Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people.
And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles;
and laud him, all ye people.
And again, Esaias saith,
There shall be a root of Jesse,
and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles;
in him shall the Gentiles trust.
Romans ~ 15:9-12
The fulfillment of this promise began on Resurrection Sunday when Jesus ascended to His father in heaven, John 20:17 . . . and became the chief cornerstone:
The stone which the builders refused
is become the head stone of the corner.
This is the LORD’S doing;
it is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day which the LORD hath made;
(that bright Sunday and every day forward)
we will rejoice and be glad in it.
~ Psalm 188: 22-24
Paul also noted:
And (we) are built upon the foundation
of the apostles and prophets,
Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.
~ Ephesians 2:20
Likewise said Peter:
Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture,
Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone,
and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.
~ 1 Peter 2:6
Zion, Sion, or New Jerusalem is the city of peace: Heavenly, constructed by the bridegroom for his pure bride, the church. For the description see Revelation 21: 9-26.
At the end of the description is the character and behavior found in those who have inherited the promise noted in Paul’s prayer.
And I, John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem,
coming down from God out of heaven,
prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
~ Revelation 21:2
Christ means “Anointed One”, which is what happened to Him at the river Jordan.
The same anointing of the Holy Spirit happened at Pentecost rushing down upon the 120 disciples, and can happen to every believer, who in faithful obedience lays down his life before the feet of Jesus.
Then we will have the mind of Christ:
He that hath my commandments,
and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me:
and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father,
and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
~ John 14:21
If any man come to me, and hate not his father,
and mother, and wife, and children,
and brethren, and sisters, yea,
and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
~ Luke 14:26
It wasn’t until eight years after Pentecost that the promise in Isaiah began to be poured out upon the Gentiles. Paul is referring to the promise in its entire fulfillment.
All who receive the promise will have met the two criteria initiated by John the Baptist, taught by Jesus, and elaborated in epistles by the Apostles.
John the Baptist cried . . .
Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
~ Matthew 3:2
And Jesus . . .
From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say,
Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
~ Matthew 4:17
Again, saying . . .
The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand:
repent ye, and believe the gospel.
~ Mark 1:15
Paul elaborated . . .
But shewed first unto them of Damascus,
and at Jerusalem,
and throughout all the coasts of Judaea,
and then to the Gentiles,
that they should repent and turn to God,
and do works meet for repentance.
~ Acts 26:20
A discussion of the first criteria, Repentance
John the Baptist preached a solemn message in the barren, parched, and dry wilderness. The wilderness is a picture of our soul.
Without the living waters of Christ, our soul is barren, parched, and void of sustaining, meaningful life. We can not thrive, nor were we designed by God to live in such a desolate and dry place.
The wilderness of our life is built upon a landscape of sin. Every tree, weed, and sprout is tainted by the Devil’s work. Only when we gaze upon the holiness of God do we recognize the depth of this sin.
This happens through grace at prompting of the Holy Spirit. We peer into the darkness of our soul and cry out, “God, be merciful to me, a wretched sinner.”
When we see ourselves for who we are, we realize the need for God’s powerful redemption from our sin.
It is also important to understand how far we have fallen. Our first Earthly parents, Adam and Eve, used to walked side-by-side with God enjoying His presence in human innocence and perfection (free from all sin).
God wants to forgive us, deliver us from sin, and restore us to communion with Him.
The knowledge and consequence of sin will remain until our corrupt body puts on its immortal incorruptible heavenly body.
A discussion of the second criteria, Salvific, Believing Faith
Once we have appreciated God through our repentance and the forgiveness of sins, that same faith guided by the Holy Spirit teaches us about God’s nature and how He wants to change ours;
Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved,
what manner of persons ought ye to be
in all holy conversation and godliness,
looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God,
wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved,
and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?
Nevertheless we, according to his promise,
look for new heavens and a new earth,
wherein dwelleth righteousness.
Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things,
be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace,
without spot, and blameless.
One of my favorite pictures of sin, our complete inability and deep need of God’s holy redemptive work is the story about the 10 lepers:
And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem,
that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.
And as he entered into a certain village,
there met him ten men that were lepers,
which stood afar off:
And they lifted up their voices, and said,
Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.
And when he saw them, he said unto them,
Go shew yourselves unto the priests.
And it came to pass,
that, as they went, they were cleansed.
And one of them, when he saw that he was healed,
turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,
And fell down on his face at his feet,
giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.
And Jesus answering said,
Were there not ten cleansed?
but where are the nine?
There are not found that returned to give glory to God,
save this stranger.
And he said unto him,
Arise, go thy way:
thy faith hath made thee whole.
~ Luke 17-11-19
Literally in the Greek – Jesus said, “thy faith has saved thee. ” Remember thee is singular. Jesus was not referring all 10 lepers who were cleansed of leprosy (which is symbolic of sin in scripture).
He was only referring to the leper that fell at Jesus’ feet and gave Him due honor.
It is very important to see this because many who have been cleansed of their sin do not recognize the need to make their calling and election sure by giving God everything.
Instead, they choose to compromise. One way the Jesus describes this compromise is:
No man can serve two masters:
for either he will hate the one, and love the other;
or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.
Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
~ Matthew 6:23-25
When we compromise our walk by allowing sin to remain in our life, this disobedience causes our conscience is darkened and our faith is shipwrecked ~ 1 Timothy 1:19.
We are told in no uncertain terms:
He that committeth sin is of the devil;
for the devil sinneth from the beginning.
For this purpose the Son of God was manifested,
that he might destroy the works of the devil.
~ 1 John 3:8
What else is the work of the Devil than to sow sin in the hearts of man!
. . . our old man is crucified with him,
that the body of sin might be destroyed,
that henceforth we should not serve sin.
~ Romans 6:6
The works of sin is supposed to be destroyed. Why go back to the mire to lick the vomit?
If we are doing well in serving God sin doth not lieth at the door. This is also a promise and the very words of God to us!
For this purpose the Son of God was manifested,
that he might destroy the works of the devil.
Whosoever is born of God doth not commit (practice) sin;
for his seed remaineth in him:
and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
~ 1 John 3:8-9
This is a hard saying but the purpose of God is clear: We are not to practice sin if God has been manifested in us.
I am confident that this must be a reality in our life if we are, “to be filled with all joy and peace in believing, abounding in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost,” as Paul prayed.
How does God fulfill this? I believe the key to being made whole in Christ happens by:
. . . our diligent obedience:
Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed,
not as in my presence only,
but now much more in my absence,
work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
For it is God which worketh in you
both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
Do all things without murmurings and disputings:
That ye may be blameless and harmless,
the sons of God, without rebuke,
in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation.
~ Philippians 2:12-15
Whereby are given unto us
exceeding great and precious promises:
that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature,
having escaped the corruption
that is in the world through lust.
And beside this, giving all diligence,
add to your faith virtue;
and to virtue knowledge;
And to knowledge temperance;
and to temperance patience;
and to patience godliness;
And to godliness brotherly kindness;
and to brotherly kindness charity (God’s Love).
For if these things be in you, and abound,
they make you that ye shall neither be barren
nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
But he that lacketh these things is blind,
and cannot see afar off,
and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
~ 1 Peter 1:4-9
When we come to live our life humbly in a holy and solemn walk Christ, we can experience, “The Kingdom of Heaven” in out hearts, mind, soul, and strength and shine upon the souls of others.
The Grace of God replaces our sin stained heart with purity basking the love and peace of God’s holiness.
For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink;
but righteousness, and peace,
and joy in the Holy Ghost.
~ Romans 14:17
May God find the fruit of His holiness in your soul