- What relationship in your life would you describe as constantly devoted?
- What other words would you use to describe the relationship in addition to constantly devoted?
- What elements of the relationship make it one that is constantly devoted?
- Are you someone else’s constantly devoted relationship?
- What does Romans 12:12 have to do with being constantly devoted in relationship?
Consider our verse from four different translations:
ESV Romans 12:12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
NAS Romans 12:12 rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer,
NET Romans 12:12 Rejoice in hope, endure in suffering, persist in prayer.
NIV Romans 12:12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Paul is writing to both Jewish and Gentile Christians in the Roman province to introduce himself, profess the Gospel of the grace of God through Jesus Christ and to provide practical instruction on how they should be living out their faith with each other.
The verse we are studying today comes from the section where Paul is giving instruction on how believers ought to live in response to the Gospel message.
This instruction was needed due to tensions between the Jewish and Gentile Christians.
- What was the hope they were to rejoice in?
Read Romans 3:21-31 from The Message Translation:
21-24 But in our time something new has been added. What Moses and the prophets witnessed to all those years has happened. The God-setting-things-right that we read about has become Jesus-setting-things-right for us. And not only for us, but for everyone who believes in him. For there is no difference between us and them in this. Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.
25-26 God sacrificed Jesus on the altar of the world to clear that world of sin. Having faith in him sets us in the clear. God decided on this course of action in full view of the public—to set the world in the clear with himself through the sacrifice of Jesus, finally taking care of the sins he had so patiently endured. This is not only clear, but it’s now—this is current history! God sets things right. He also makes it possible for us to live in his rightness.
27-28 So where does that leave our proud Jewish insider claims and counterclaims? Canceled? Yes, canceled. What we’ve learned is this: God does not respond to what we do; we respond to what God does. We’ve finally figured it out. Our lives get in step with God and all others by letting him set the pace, not by proudly or anxiously trying to run the parade.
29-30 And where does that leave our proud Jewish claim of having a corner on God? Also canceled. God is the God of outsider non-Jews as well as insider Jews. How could it be otherwise since there is only one God? God sets right all who welcome his action and enter into it, both those who follow our religious system and those who have never heard of our religion.
31 But by shifting our focus from what we do to what God does, don’t we cancel out all our careful keeping of the rules and ways God commanded? Not at all. What happens, in fact, is that by putting that entire way of life in its proper place, we confirm it.
In other words, whether Jewish or Gentile, God has set things right for all who rejoice in this hope.
- Why does Paul instruct all Christians to be patient to endure or persevere in tribulation?
Keep in mind at the time of Paul’s writing Christians of any nationality were at notable risk of persecution. It was not until A.D. 313 that Constantine the Great eventually legalized Christianity. At least for the area he was ruling.
It is important to remember there is persecution of Christians still occurring across the globe today.
And even when it is “legal” in the eyes of an earthly government, that does not guarantee there will never be times of tribulation.
Paul’s advice to remain patient in tribulation back in the late A.D. 50s rings true for Christians today.
- Why does Paul instruct all Christians to be constant in prayer?
In the weeks leading up to today’s study we spent time looking at Jesus Christ’s instruction to his disciples on how not to pray followed by how to pray.
Take a moment and read through Romans 3:21-31 again.
- To whom do we pray?
- Why do we pray to God, our Father in Heaven?
- What does our Father in Heaven provide for us?
- Based on the verses in Romans and the study on prayer in Luke and Matthew, who would you say has been and still is most constantly devoted to Christians?
- Who all is welcome to join this constantly devoted relationship with the Lord of Heaven?
- Are you as devoted in prayer to the Lord of Heaven as He is to you given the Gospel presented in Romans 3:21-31?
- What will enable you to increase your faithfulness to the Lord of Heaven?
Richard J. Foster’s book Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, has a chapter titled Unceasing Prayer.
In that chapter Foster provides excellent examples on how to develop a personal habit of constantly devoted prayer.
Yes, it is a habit that we can develop.
Remember Christ’s disciples asked him to teach them how to pray. They too needed to practice learning how to do this.
Paul, in Romans, is reminding us to put Christ’s teaching on prayer into regular practice so that we will be effective in sharing the Gospel of God’s grace with each other.
- How have you practiced prayer?
- What changes have you experienced when you are consistent with prayer?
- What other resources on prayer have you found helpful? I would love to hear from you!
May your relationship with our Father in Heaven be one of constant devotion in such a way that you may rejoice in the hope He has provided you and so you may have the endurance to withstand any difficulties you face along your faith journey.