“For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers; Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you.” (Romans 1:9–10, KJV 1900)
When we were growing up, we would take a trip once a year to see my grandmother in Wellsville NY. Dad would pack us up in the 59 Plymouth Station Wagon and we would head off for an eight-hour trip. We would stay a week and then have to leave. I would watch my mother’s face as we left and realize how much she longed to go back and see her mother every year. I am sure that she made my dad take this time out of his schedule every year because of her strong desire to return to Wellsville. Our longings propel us to do things that often require time and energy.
Paul had such a longing to go to Rome. Yet his longing was much different than my mother’s. Serving the Lord was Paul’s passion and he had longed to go to Rome to serve Him there. To this end he prayed passionately. He desired to see the believers there to do ministry among them, imparting a spiritual blessing to strengthen them and to preach the gospel. He knew that in doing this, that both the believers there and he would be mutually encouraged.
Paul had a holy longing to serve the Lord in Rome. What about our longings? Are they holy longings? Do we have a drive to serve the Lord? If we do, it will drive us to fervently pray for the Lord to open a door of opportunity, according to His will, just as Paul did. Perhaps our longing will not require going to Rome, or even an eight-hour car drive. Yet, it might require walking across the aisle to minister God’s grace to another. It might require visiting someone nearby that needs to hear the message of hope. It might require visiting or calling someone who is hurting. The key is to have the passion to serve the Lord as Paul did, and then pray for the Lord to grant the longing of your heart.