Rejoice In Hope
Continuing In Prayer

In a Brief Survey of the Epistle of Paul to the Romans
Based on sermons preached in PCC Worship Services, July 2003 to Sep 2005
Part 63c of 83


“Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer” (Romans 12:12).

[Our text is part of a series of participial clauses which augments Paul’s instruction to the members of the church to be kindly affectionate one to another (v. 10). In this third part exposition of it, we will study what it means to be “[continue] instant in prayer.” –JJL]

3.  Continuing Instant 
in Prayer

What does it mean to continue instant in prayer? Well, the words ‘continue instant’ is one word in the Greek (προσκαρτερέω, roskartereō) which means ‘to attend constantly,’ or to be steadfastly attentive to something.

It speaks of being prayerful and having a disciplined prayer life. When the New Testament church was first established, the apostles were doing everything from preaching and teaching to serving tables. But eventually, the apostles, under the guidance of God, decided to appoint deacons in the church. They told the church:

3 Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. 4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:3-4)

The word translated “will give ourselves continually” is the same as that translated “continuing instant” in our text.

The apostles recognised that they were so overburdened with the cares of the church, that they were being hindered in praying for the church in a disciplined manner.

The apostles and ministers and elders must be “instant in prayer.”

But not only ministers and elders! In teaching us to “continue instant in prayer” in a general exhortation, Paul is telling us that all members of the church should give ourselves continually to prayer. Ministers and elders must lead by example. And they must especially pray for the church. But all members must also have a disciplined and persistent prayer life.

We must especially have a disciplined and persistent prayer life in view of the tribulations or pressures that we face day by day.

Now, it is a very ironic thing, but very often when believers are under pressure they cease to pray. But this should not be the case. The more pressure you have the more you should pray!

There was a famous saying which was attributed to the church father Jerome: “He who works faithfully prays twice.” That is to say: we must not think that prayer is not work. There may be many things to do: but we cannot faithfully do those things without prayer.

John Bunyan puts it this way: “You can do more than pray, after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed.

The prayer warrior George Muller has another famous saying: “Four hours of work after an hour of prayer would accomplish more than five hours without prayer.” 

Are you facing tribulation, dear Christian reader? Are you facing tribulation because you have much to do? You must pray. You must never give up praying. You must be instant in prayer—not just praying as you do your work, but setting aside time to pray.

Mothers, remember to pray. Be patient in tribulation and remember to pray. Martin Luther, the great Reformer once said: “I have so much to do [today] that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” We don’t know if he actually did so, but he would certainly have spent much time on his knees every day. Now, you may not be able to spend three hours in prayer every day, but surely a disciplined prayer life is what we all need regardless of our profession, whether we are homemakers, students, employees, employers, etc.

Listen to a practical piece of advice given by Luther to a barber who wrote to him:

It is a good thing to let prayer be the first business of the morning and the last at night. Guard yourself carefully against those false, deluding ideas which tell you, “Wait a little while. I will pray in an hour; first I must attend to this or that.” Such thoughts get you away from prayer into other affairs which so hold your attention and involve you that nothing comes of prayer for that day.

Isn’t it true? If you do not resolve to pray and discipline yourself to pray, you will never pray. This is true for homemakers, for those of us who are unmarried, for husbands, for elders, for deacons, and for children.

Conclusion

Dear Christian, may I urge you with the words of Paul to rejoice in hope, being patient in tribulation and continuing instant in prayer.

Let us not allow the pressures that we face day by day to overwhelm us. As the psalmist say:

“Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD” (Ps 31:24).

If you trust in the Lord and you manifest your faith and hope by prayer, then take courage, the Lord will strengthen your heart so that nothing will overwhelm you. He will give you joy. He will make you a joyful gossiper of the Gospel. And if all of us will learn these principles, God will make this church not only united in love, but aflame with joyful zeal. Only then, will the church be a city set upon a hill to call sinners unto Christ to find salvation in Him and to live a life worthwhile in Him.

Oh may the Lord grant us the desires of our heart and the desires of our Saviour who laid His life down for us! Amen.

—JJ Lim