January 8, 2018

Paul Persistently Prays and Eagerly Plans to Reach a Diverse Population with the Gospel

Romans 1:13–15

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13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers,1 that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. 14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians,2 both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.


[1] 1:13 Or brothers and sisters. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, the plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) may refer either to brothers or to brothers and sisters
[2] 1:14 That is, non-Greeks

In Context:

8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. 9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you 10 always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God's will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— 12 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. 14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

Paul Persistently Prays and Eagerly Plans to Reach a Diverse Population with the Gospel

Bio | Victoria Alexandria Bragg

Hi. I'm Victoria Bragg, and I'm not your regular Texas chica. I grew up in Ireland where I was surrounded by people just like myself. We were white, ate Shepherd's pie, and spoke with an Irish brogue. God added a splash of color to my world when He moved me to Dallas. I love getting to know my international neighbors and volunteering at the QuestCare Clinic, a health clinic that partners with Watermark to meet the needs of an underserved community while sharing the gospel. God has given me a passion for other cultures because He has a heart for the nations. God sent His Son Jesus into the world so that all could have a relationship with Him.

Central Truth

Pray persistently and eagerly. Share the gospel with whomever God puts in your path.

Devotional | Romans 1:13–15

Paul loved all kinds of people. When he met Jesus on the road to Damascus, he was called to tell Jews and Gentiles alike about Jesus. For those of us who have committed to follow Jesus, that's our calling, too...

Paul loved all kinds of people. When he met Jesus on the road to Damascus, he was called to tell Jews and Gentiles alike about Jesus. For those of us who have committed to follow Jesus, that's our calling, too (Matthew 28:19-20). Paul is pumped about visiting the believers in Rome. He's been praying like crazy that God would make it happen. Although Paul was a godly apostle and a prayer warrior, he was prevented from going to Rome at that time. It was not until 60 AD that Paul traveled to Rome as a prisoner.

Ever wonder why God didn't answer Paul's prayers immediately? Perhaps it was because God was doing a fruitful work through Paul elsewhere (Romans 15:17-22). This encourages me to be persistent in prayer even when I don't see God working. Ever since I was a wee lassie, I prayed for my granddad to know Jesus. Years later, six months before he died, he trusted Jesus. So never give up praying and sharing the gospel!

Paul is not just persistent in prayer; he's audacious, too! In verse 13 we read that Paul is expecting people to put their trust in Jesus. How audacious are we? Ephesians 4:20-23 encourages us to believe that God is able to blow our socks off! I love that Paul prays expectantly before he acts. I have learned that prayer comes before serving. As a volunteer at QuestCare Clinic, I have learned to trust God to help me share my faith in a winsome way. We are not only interested in healing the body, but also to introduce others to Jesus, the divine healer!

Not only is Paul prayerful and audacious, he's also an eager beaver! Paul desires to communicate the truth about Jesus to people unlike himself. Paul was a Pharisee and educated in the Harvard of his day. He had a heart for all, no matter their ethnicity or education level. Paul was often rejected, but he chose to obey God rather than to remain in his comfort zone.

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Discussion Questions

1. Who are you praying for? How persistent and expectant are you in your prayers?

2. What is your attitude toward sharing Jesus with others? Are you eager, afraid, or apathetic? If you need to learn how to share your faith, check out the many opportunities at Watermark, including Unashamed Weekend (Watermark's weekend-long urban discipleship trip), Equipped Disciple (Watermark's discipleship training classes), or volunteering at the QuestCare Clinic.

3. How relational are you with people who are different from you? Pray and ask God to help you see other people the way He does, with compassion and dignity.

33 Comments available

Aaron Thomas 11 months ago

Romans is considered the central book of the Bible. Imagine, had God answered Paul’s prayer to allow him to go to Rome, he may not have written this letter to be available to us today.

Tonni Shook 11 months ago

My granny prayed for me constantly when I was growing up. After years of praying for me, never giving up, I turned my life over to Jesus. Now I pray for my youngest daughter, Tara, with that same faith of my granny.

Michael Macomber 11 months ago

I commented on earlier post that I was going to make sharing my faith the main focus this year. This post reminds me of my disobedience in my lack of prayer life. I think as I move my way through ReGen, it will help me with these areas in my daily walk.

Gary Herta 11 months ago

Victoria, thank you for the wonderful devotional. You’re enthusiasm for sharing the gospel is very contagious! I must say that I’m persistent in prayer but need to be more expectant. Thanks again for sharing your faith.

Lisa Olsen 11 months ago

Thank you Victoria! Today’s reading makes me think of my brother who is a non-believer, and the conviction I feel at times about not being as persistent in prayer as I should, for his salvation. After years of praying and talking with him, his heart continues to grow colder, and it can be hard to trust prayer is going to make a difference. However, I believe that God wants me to be faithful in prying for him.

Christopher Hyland 11 months ago

your comment and question about praying persistently and expectantly. So often I pray knowing it is powerful but not necessarily expecting the outcome.

Christopher Hyland 11 months ago

Good afternoon JTJ and thank you Victoria

Brian Childers 11 months ago

Fantastic devotional, Victoria! Loved reading it. Your passion definitely comes through. Very convicting for all of us to not just “be in prayer”, but to STAY in prayer. The story of your Granddad is a testimony to persistent prayer.

Julie Goodale 11 months ago

Happy Monday sweet Victoria! Loved seeing your sweet smile on JTJ today & as always I loved your devo! Your last sentence hit home with me today about Paul being rejected but he carried on b/c he chose to obey God rather than remain in his comfort zone. Great reminder for me!!

Julie Goodale 11 months ago

Happy Monday Victoria!! Loved seeing your smiling face on the Devo today & as always loved your Devo!

Autumn VerHoef 11 months ago

Thank you Victoria! It’s always a pleasure to see you at Questcare with your radiant smile and joy! Thank you for pointing out Paul’s eagerness and expectancy for his prayers to be answered. So many times I pray for people in a half-hearted manner 1) just to check it off my to-do’s, or 2) because I don’t really think God is going to answer in the way I am asking or 3) I doubt that God really cares about such things as He has more important things to worry about than our temporary suffering and short lives. These are all lies and discouragement I need to repent of and get back to the basics of my faith, and pray for God to change my heart.

Greg Jones 11 months ago

Paul struck blind on a road in order to be liberated from a blinding paradigm. The vision of who God is informed the knowledge of who God is.

Stephen DeLay 11 months ago

Thanks Victoria for the Devo. One can sense the desire that Paul has to be with the Church in Rome. Paul never stood still and was always looking for an opportunity to spread the gospel to everyone. I think that Paul especially understodd that the gospel and his experience was not something that was just a gift for himself, it did not belong to him. This is something we must always be aware of. As we grow in our faith and become stronger in our faith journey, we are obligated to share this good news. In doing so we continue to grow, as well as helping others to grow. And in all of this we give glory to God as we remain in joyful obediene in sharing the gospel with the world.

Alma Barber 11 months ago

Your devo today is very timely Victoria, and has encouraged me (not to mention convict me!), to not only pray for my nail technician of 10+ years- who is a devout Buddhist-but to respond to her in a Christlike manner-even when I think she doesn’t deserve it! I was all set to give her a taste of her own medicine for a recent offense (I know I know none of you would think this way​:slight_smile:️), but the Holy Spirit kept bringing her to my remembrance as I read this devo and some of the responses. Now y’all can pray for me! that I would be audacious in sharing the gospel with her, instead of making an audacious remark against it.

Georgia Littlejohn 11 months ago

Good morning and thank you for telling us about your uncle. I pray for my grown children. They both have there reasons for where there at but my son especially will have a wonderful testimony when that day comes. I pray one day I am able to quote verses with a stranger. I talk about trust, faith and my friends see God working in me. I’m not in a community group and that is a goal for this year. Im eager and afraid at time because I don’t now verses that would help others. I have love and faith for Jesus and I share that.

Linda Aland 11 months ago

You will weekly meet people - known to you or unknown to you - who are having issues in life. Being sensitive to what that person needs, asking if you can help in any way, and listening to her story if she shares something with you, allow her to let you closer. Offer to pray for the issue either with her or after you leave her. And take the time to pray at either time. Most people willingly accept the offer. And then “expectantly” seek that God would allow His story to become part of her story - that she would come to know Jesus.

Michael Davidson 11 months ago

Jesus was the example and he shared that even from the beginning. I didn’t matter who was around or what they thought about Him, he would go and share His love with those that needed it most, the sinner. We al have sinned and need Him. Romans 3:23

Theron Smentek 11 months ago

Good morning Victoria and fellow JTJ’ers. I really appreciated what you pulled out on these few verses. I love Paul’s eagerness to “fill heaven” with people who look differently and thought different than he did-a Pharisaical no-no, because He was more concerned with fulfilling this “obligation” than he was his very own comfort and status. I think of the life of Paul and some of the versions of the Bible have eager in 15 translated “ready” and Paul’s life could be marked by that eagerness, that readiness. Paul was always prepared to do what the Lord called Him too. That’s my prayer for myself! What could I witness God do, if only I was always ready or eager? I too get to pray diligently for family to come to know Jesus.

Michael Davidson 11 months ago

It’s always been a challenge for me to share my faith. Probably because I don’t always know what to say, but I know now that if I let Jesus lead me, then the right words will come out. I just needed to have faith that He would lead me and I have gotten better at stepping out in faith and sharing the love of Christ. Matthew 17:20

Michael Davidson 11 months ago

There are several people in my life that need prayer. Unfortunately, I don’t pray for them as often as I should, but this has made me realize that ibshould do more. So, every morning when I do my devotion, I will pray for them and when they come to mind during the day, I will stop and pray for them at that time too. I know that pray is important and He hears every one of them. Psalm 4:3

Sharhonda Conner 11 months ago

Thanks Victoria for the reminder to pray persistently. We don’t always know what God is up to, but we can rest assured He is up to something good.

William Breazeale 11 months ago

This is a JTJ that I needed to read. I am not persistent with my prayers, and tend to only pray for those people near me. Very rarely do I find myself praying for the nations, praying for others in different scenarios, or praying for others in different life stages. I MUST allow God to change this mindset in my life. Thanks so much for this reminder today!

Sara Fusco 11 months ago

Ouch, there’s a reminder I need. Prayer is our most powerful “weapon” yet I struggle to be consistent. Paul is a great example of fervent, effective prayer. The answer was sometimes “no” but that did not change his attitude towards prayer. May fall on my knees before the throne and consistently speak with my Heavenly Father.

Trey Collins 11 months ago

Great devo today Victoria. I am challenged and convicted by Paul’s passion for the gospel. It’s his overwhelming focus and “all he talks about”. God make the me! Praying for you this morning Victoria!

Michael Scaman 11 months ago

A heart for others but knowing God has promised and commanded the world be reached various ways

Michael Scaman 11 months ago

Of course in the book of Acts, Paul was blinded and while blind told he was being sent to the gentiles to open blind eyes. Humanly impossible but promised

Sue Bohlin 11 months ago

Thanks so much, Victoria, especially for your testimony of faithful prayer for your granddad. Recently I got to be part of an end-of-life prayer team for the salvation of a stubborn-hearted man facing imminent death. (I shared the request with Click and Pray.) He finally gave up fighting and submitted to Jesus about 48 hours before he crossed over into heaven instead of hell. What a joy—and a relief! I think sharing “God stories” is part of preaching the gospel/good news to all people, including believers (as Paul longed to do with the believers in Rome) because the good news of life in Christ is SO much bigger than just how to be saved. It’s about the Adventure of walking with Jesus every day!

Hope Harris 11 months ago

Good Monday Morning JTJ friends! Victoria thanks for pointing out that Paul brought the gospel to multiple ethnic groups and cultures. What stands out to me is Paul’s greatest desire was to return to Rome to his people. Perhaps that is why the LGBT community and my gay identified friends weigh so heavy on my heart. Praying my gay identified friends today

Ted Mattos 11 months ago

Thanks, Victoria, for this passage today. I appreciate your reminder that we must pray persistently. I’m currently praying for my nephew’s awakening to God. He is angry with God for an illness his younger sister had. But thanks to God, He saved my niece from a death sentence with leukemia. I just pray my nephew can see that our Father is merciful.

Brent Voorhees 11 months ago

Thanks be to God for your excellent devo, Victoria! I loved how you described Paul’s persistent prayer, even when (for years) God had other plans for Paul. I have known that it would be wise for me to submit to God’s will, but I learned today that I can be encouraged to pray for that which I desire as I submit to God’s will (think Jesus, “take this cup from, yet not my will, but your will be done.”)! And as your Q1 implies, I can pray expectantly.

Lindsey Driscoll 11 months ago

Thanks Victoria for encouraging us to share the gospel with all people. Glad you get to do that at the Quest care clinic as well, thank you fo serving there. Q1- Who- one person in my life particularly comes to mind when i read v.14 the wise and the foolish. I think about he person who I believe will never accept the gospel as truth. Great reminder today that no one person is apart from the grace of Christ who died for all. I’m reminded of the desire of our Great God that none should perish.

Hugh Stephenson 11 months ago

What I see in this passage is the intensity of Paul’s mission. Clearly, he sees that this is what God has called him to do. His model for me is to be on mission with passion, intensity and purpose. Paul is not a people pleaser. He does not care what others think. Truly, he has an “audience of one”. Further, his mission is to all - not just to those who he is comfortable talking to. One mentor of mine suggests that if I truly know God I would be “tackling people in the parking lot” to tell them about God’s kindness and goodness. As the shepherd in our Christmas Eve video says, “people must know! people must know!” May I be on such a mission today.

Amy Merritt 11 months ago

Paul has a heart for others, a heart that wants others to know the good news of Jesus, both Greeks, non-Greeks, gentiles, Jews. He wants all to share in the love and truth that has radically changed his life and he boldly speaks even to the wise and foolish. His faith and trust in Jesus, as well as the overwhelming love and grace of Jesus is what motivates him to share with everyone. Radical life change is pretty hard to argue- and sharing with others the reason is pretty easy. God sets us up to go forward with confidence and share hope with the hurting and enslaved. I pray that I would be motivated out of the same place to share with anyone God puts in my path.

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