In Romans 12 Paul encourages us to “never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.”He says we are to “be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”
When Paul calls for “zeal” here he does not mean that we should be some sort of militant extremist. Rather he is calling us to be fully committed to serving Jesus with whole-hearted enthusiasm. The Lord is always to be our first love. The word that he uses for fervor there literally means “to boil over” or to be “hot.” To put it another way, we are to be on fire for the Lord! Those who follow Jesus Christ should never be accused of being lukewarm in showing His love to others!
As I contemplated these verses, I remembered the powerful story of Henry Martyn. Born in 1781, Martyn was a missionary to India and Persia, which is modern-day Iran. He had a gift for languages and felt such an urgency to take the message of Christ to the lost that he travelled to even the most inhospitable places at that time in order to translate the Bible for people to read God’s Word in their own languages. It was hard and lonely work.
Martyn was well known for often praying: “Now let me burn out for God.” No exertion or cost was too great for this man; and he did burn out for God, dying of tuberculosis at the age of just 31. Some might look at the cost of Martyn’s devotion and think “what a waste!” — but in reality, he knew that he would live just as long as God still had work for him to do. His deepest desire was to expend himself in order to promote the kingdom of God.
In his brief life Henry Martyn was never lacking in zeal. He was utterly invested in eternity and he lived with a sense of spiritual urgency that is both inspiring and convicting for us today. How many of us view life in that same way? Are you praying “Lord, wherever You send me, let me burn out for you” or are you perhaps praying “Lord, please don’t send me!”? Paul urges us to serve God with dedication and commitment, always making good use of every opportunity we have been given to show His love to others, irrespective of the difficulties we may face.
Then Paul also says we are to be “joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” We can be joyful because God is faithful to His promises, no matter how our current circumstances may appear. We will need to be patient as we wait for God’s purposes to prevail, and we will need to be “faithful in prayer.” Prayer is as vital to our life with the Lord as breathing is to our bodies.
Why then is it often so difficult to do? All of us know that it can be challenging to pray at times — particularly when life seems to be overwhelming — but we have to realize that our enemy Satan does his best to keep us from faith-filled prayer because he knows just how powerful it is! Prayer not only develops our relationship with the Lord, it also builds our faith! For as we spend time in prayer, casting all of our anxieties on the Lord, we come to know Him in new and deeper ways than we did before; and as we see Him answer, our trust in His faithfulness increases. Let me encourage you to burn brightly for Christ, knowing that He is faithful to His promises. No matter what your current circumstances, be faithful in prayer — for it is there that He will strengthen you and give you joy no matter what you face.
May God bless you