This morning Garry started a new series on the prayers of Paul. Prayer is a staple part of the Christian life, though sometimes we complicate it and think that it’s impossible (how can we possibly pray continually, as Paul urges us to do in 1 Thess 5:17?!) In Romans 1:8-10, Paul prays that ‘now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you.’
Praying really involves surrendering to God’s will. Paul had tried many times to go to Rome previously, but God had prevented him from doing so (see Rom 1:13). God sometimes does put obstacles in our way (see also Acts 16:6-10), but Paul was confident that He would lead him always. He had his own plans for evangelisation (based on common sense and his calling to be an apostle to the Gentiles, to go where the gospel had not previously been preached, see Rom 15:20), but he was well aware of the need to be led by God.
This is always the Christian’s experience. Even Jesus was led by the Spirit (see Luke 4:1), and all of us are sealed with the Holy Spirit (Eph 1:13) who can lead us into the paths God wants us to take. Rom 8:14 reminds us that those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.
God leads us in different ways, sometimes through visions (see Acts 16:9-10), sometimes through discernment (see Acts 14:8-9) and sometimes through the voice of encouragement (see Is 30:19-21). There is nothing magical about being led by God, but there is something supernatural about this. We need sensitivity to hear God’s voice and the ability to surrender to even His prevention. Prayer is a conversation; we need not only to talk to God but also to listen to Him.