Romans 15:22-33 NKJV
22 For this reason I also have been much hindered from coming to you. 23 But now no longer having a place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come to you, 24 whenever I journey to Spain, I shall come to you. For I hope to see you on my journey, and to be helped on my way there by you, if first I may enjoy your company for a while. 25 But now I am going to Jerusalem to minister to the saints. 26 For it pleased those from Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are in Jerusalem. 27 It pleased them indeed, and they are their debtors. For if the Gentiles have been partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister to them in material things. 28 Therefore, when I have performed this and have sealed to them this fruit, I shall go by way of you to Spain. 29 But I know that when I come to you, I shall come in the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.
30 Now I beg you, brethren, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and through the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in prayers to God for me, 31 that I may be delivered from those in Judea who do not believe, and that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, 32 that I may come to you with joy by the will of God, and may be refreshed together with you. 33 Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.
In v. 30 of today’s reading, St. Paul urges the Christians in Rome to “join me in my struggle by praying to God for me.” This request is not hard to understand given everything that Paul was facing and was about to face. After his conversion early in the book of Acts, Paul faced difficulty in establishing himself as a legitimate Christian preacher after spending the majority of his life before that as a persecutor of Christ and His people. And he would continue to face challenges while preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles. Among other things, Paul faced imprisonment (Acts 16) for preaching the Gospel.
Paul was probably the strongest proponent of Christianity besides Christ Himself; and because of that, he was persecuted. One quick scan of the Old Testament reveals that, throughout history, every prophet was persecuted, rejected, and marginalized for their faithfulness. Even faithful Noah was mocked for believing that God spoke to him and told him to build the ark…that is, until the rains came and proved God and Noah to be right.
And throughout the New Testament we read that not only Christ Himself was persecuted and rejected, but also all of His disciples; in fact, all but one of the Twelve were martyred for believing and teaching the one, holy, apostolic faith.
So, in today’s reading, when Paul asks for prayer on his behalf, we are reminded to pray for our pastors, for they, too, face all kinds of challenges because of their Call into the Holy ministry. Pray that he remains faithful. Pray that he keeps his ordination vow to preach, teach, and administer the Sacraments according to Scripture and, for us Lutherans, adhere to the Lutheran Confessions as well. Pray for his health and strength. Pray that he would be strengthened against any and all onslaughts he might face for being faithful. Pray for his children and wife. Pray that God would give him clarity of mind to proclaim without compromise Christ crucified for all sinners.
Let us pray: Dear Jesus, thank you for my faithful pastor. Bless and protect him and his family and keep him faithful to you. Amen.