8 First of all, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world. 9 Because God, whom I serve in my spirit by preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness that I keep thinking of you 10 and I am always asking in my prayers, if maybe now at last I may get the chance to visit you, within the will of God. 11 Because I long to see you, so that I may share with you some spiritual gift to strengthen you, 12 but this is so that we may be mutually encouraged by one another’s faith, both yours and mine.
prayer and mutual encouragement
Prayer and mutual encouragement go together. We are concerned about those we remember, and we remember those we take time to pray for. We are more likely to get opportunities to share mutual encouragement with those for whom we regularly pray.
For Paul, this letter was not the beginning of that mutual encouragement. It began as Paul himself was ministered to by the reputation of the Roman Christians. Their miraculous faith was being gossiped about throughout the empire. The gospel had reached the capital city of the empire itself. Paul wanted to get in on that miracle. As he prayed for the Romans, that desire to share grew into a calling for mission work there. Paul responded to that calling by his epistle, and sought every opportunity to go.
LORD, spark within us a desire to encourage — and be encouraged by – those in other lands who need Jesus. Call us to your mission fields.