“First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.”
Hello everyone! I’ve been excited to share another promise from scripture with you. For today’s post, I chose to focus on Romans 1:8. I wasn’t expecting this verse to be as complex as it turned out. When I first read it, I thought… “Wow. I love this! I can relate to this!” I wanted to tie it in with all of my travels and the encounters of faith I’ve had around the world. Through people, places, churches, experiences – you name it! My faith has grown leaps and bounds and been shaped immensely through my travels. Not many things can compare to the spiritual feeling that ignites within your bones when you walk into a new church in a foreign country, regardless of differences. From these experiences, I’ve learned that faith can never be defined by borders, language, or nationality. But… As I began to read more about the context behind Romans 1:8 and the meaning of each individual word… I realized that my travels weren’t what God wanted me to focus on. And I ended up learning A LOT. So much that I can’t wait to share it with you. I hope this brings a bit of Kingdom Perspective and encouragement!
First, let’s dive into a little bit of context behind the verse… Paul is expressing his gratitude to Christians in Rome because together, they have fulfilled Paul’s greatest calling (given to him by God); which is to see belief in Christ spread throughout the world and all nations. What an incredible calling! But… quite intimidating too! Could you imagine having that as your calling from God? To ignite faith throughout the world. To think of it amazes me, to envision accomplishing it gives me chills! For more background on this, you can take a look a few verses back:
“Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name.”
Looking at Romans 1:8 and what it speaks to me, one thing really seems to stand out… And that is the specification of Paul’s communication with God. He writes that he “thank[s] God through Jesus Christ” which brings our focus to Paul’s prayer life and how we can use it as an example for us today – as a way to continue to Walk in His Promises. The first standout thing here is that Paul is praying and giving thanks to God through Jesus. I’ve been praying my whole life – and I can’t tell you the rhyme or reason for why I ever pray specifically to God or Jesus. I subconsciously will pray using the verbiage of Lord, Jesus, Christ, Father, Healer – you name it. So, I did some research and found that the New Testament has a handful of verses that nudge us to present our thanks to God through Jesus. Here’s a couple of verses for reference:
“.. .always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.”
I continued my research and found many theologians to express the belief that prayer should always be brought to God through Jesus. Jesus is our gateway to Heaven and our Creator. One Biblical commentator and theologian – Albert Barnes, explains that “He has made the way to God accessible to us, whether it be by prayer or praise; and it is owing to ‘his’ mercy and grace that ‘any’ of our services are acceptable to God.” As you can imagine… All of this made me go “hmmm” and look introspectively to my prayer life and relationship with God and Jesus. The more I read, the more this began to make sense. And a distant memory of a pastor preaching on prayer habits popped up. I remembered him saying we should start every prayer with praise, and then ask God for whatever our needs may be, closing again with gratitude for our blessings.
You can call it an ah-ha moment! Or what I feel to be more fitting – a confessional moment! But, a lot of times… I find myself running to God in times of need – whether it be rooted in frustration, disappointment, or anxiety. I run to God with all of my problems, but I don’t always run to Him with all of my celebrations – my gratitude and thanks, like Paul does in Romans 1:8. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve closed my eyes and begged for provision and answers to specific needs in my life. At times, it has been for guidance in relationships, while others it has been bigger obstacles such as major life decisions. One of my most recent prayers was for provision in my career and guidance on where to go, what to do, and why I was in pursuit of what I am chasing after. I’m sure you’re thinking… That’s great! We’re supposed to go to God for guidance and communicate all of our worries and fears with Him. But, what about the rest? What about when that issue I brought to God resolves or when I’m finally given the answer I waited months for. Do I remember to run back to Him and praise Him with gratitude and a heart full of Thanksgiving? And more importantly… What am I doing in-between the asking and the receiving? What does my prayer look like in the waiting?
There’s a famous praise and worship song called Ever Be by Bethel Music. In this song, one of my favorite lines comes from the start of the chorus… “Your praise will ever be on my lips, ever be on my lips.” Hopefully the dots are connecting here… In Romans 1:8, Paul is praying to God through Jesus – praising Him with a heart full of gratitude for the people of Rome, that faith can be found throughout the nations. This verse signifies something so meaningful and important that we can carry with us as we Walk in His Promises. God’s praise should ALWAYS be on our lips – or ever be, as the song goes. We should bring all of our gratitudes and celebrations to Him through Jesus – in prayer.
For me, the significance of this verse wasn’t necessarily found in the second half, like I had initially anticipated. While it’s incredible and exciting that faith is spoken of throughout nations, it’s also equally as important that we bring praise and gratitude to God through Jesus in prayer and learn from Paul’s prayer life. One of my favorite things to think about is that the Bible is the Living Word. Various words and verses will jump out to you in different ways, at different times. When I read this promise, God knew I didn’t need the confirmation that faith is spoken of throughout the world. Those weren’t the words He was trying to speak to me, because my life experiences have already shown me this to be true. Now don’t get me wrong, I love the second half of this verse! It brings so much joy to my heart to know faith can be found in every corner of this earth. But my faith needed to be stretched by soaking up the first half and learning more about what those few words mean for me.
I hope this sheds some light on this particular verse and perhaps even your prayer life and how we can use Paul as an example. There’s always room to grow – in faith, in prayer, in general! So together, let’s try to always have His praise upon our lips. In the peaks of life and in the lower valleys.
P.S. If you haven’t read the previous post for this series, make sure to check it out here!