Let me say first that I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith in him is being talked about all over the world. God knows how often I pray for you. Day and night I bring you and your needs in prayer to God, whom I serve with all my heart by spreading the Good News about his Son.
One of the things I always pray for is the opportunity, God willing, to come at last to see you. For I long to visit you so I can bring you some spiritual gift that will help you grow strong in the Lord. When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours.
I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, that I planned many times to visit you, but I was prevented until now. I want to work among you and see spiritual fruit, just as I have seen among other Gentiles. For I have a great sense of obligation to people in both the civilized world and the rest of the world, to the educated and uneducated alike.
A reading of the first few verses of Romans relates Paul’s ardent desire to visit Rome and the sovereign hand of God that had prevented him from getting there for quite some time. The combination of these two factors—Paul’s impassioned desire to go to Rome and God’s sovereign “no”—resulted in his sitting down to write this letter to the Romans. This letter is a powerful exposition of the Christian faith and has helped countless millions of believers across the centuries since Paul first penned it to the group of believers in Rome.
Paul prayed for the chance to visit these Christians so that he could encourage them with his gift of faith and be encouraged by theirs. As God’s missionary, he could help them understand the meaning of the Good News about Jesus. As God’s devoted people, they could offer him fellowship and comfort.
Is there someone or something for which you, like Paul, ardently pray? When you sincerely pray, God will answer—although sometimes with timing and in ways you do not expect. Are you willing to persist in prayer no matter how long it takes and no matter how God answers?