“Now I urge you, brothers…to strive together with me in your prayers to God for me, that I may be delivered from those who are disobedient in Judea, and that my service for Jerusalem may prove acceptable to the saints; so that I may come to you in joy by the will of God….” (Romans 15:30-32)
The Apostle Paul was in Corinth as he wrote to the Christians in Rome (58 AD). He had collected money for the poverty-stricken saints in Jerusalem, and planned to deliver it to them then head immediately to Rome. While he traveled to Jerusalem, his letter would travel the opposite direction to Rome … and everyone would be ready for his arrival shortly thereafter.
It didn’t work out that way.
We know from the Book of Acts that Paul was arrested in Jerusalem and spent the next two years under protective custody in Caesarea. Eventually, he used his Roman citizenship to appeal to Caesar and was put on a ship for Rome; and got shipwrecked along the way! When he finally got to Rome, he spent a further two years there, waiting for his accusers to come and make their case against him to the Emperor (Acts 28:30-31).
Paul did not see any of this coming.
Everything took longer. His plan came undone. He had to adjust. We don’t know if he ever got to Spain (his ultimate plan), but it seems not. The prayers that he asked the Roman Christians to earnestly pray, did not receive the answers that he hoped.
Ever felt that way?
Holy Week was seemingly filled with “unanswered” prayers for Jesus and His disciples. Perhaps some of them prayed: “Lord, let this be the start of the revolution!” Jesus certainly prayed: “If it’s possible, let this cup pass from Me.” I can imagine His mother praying: “God, don’t let Him die!”
From our human perspective (the small hill we stand on) we pray according to what seems best. Yet, God in His sovereignty (on the towering mountain) sees everything from a vastly different perspective.
Paul’s prayer request in Romans 15 and our prayers today, must all yield to faith. We trust not that God will give what we ask, but that what we receive is what is best. Nothing is as urgent for Him as for us. But nothing we would do can match the glory of what He is doing.
Let’s pray earnestly, and with open hands and hearts.