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A Prayer and Fasting Devotional

Recently during a Bible study I am in with men in my community, I made the happy “discovery” of a verse I‘ve read a hundred times but never really noticed. Sometimes when we read Scripture, it passes through our mind like water runs through a pipe, leaving no trace. How much better when we slow down to savor and meditate on God’s precious Word. Here’s the passage that arrested me:

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” -Romans 15:13

I have been rolling this over and over in my mind because it speaks so directly to the basic longings of my heart, and I suspect yours as well. As you fast today, consider the three things that are offered to us here: joy, peace, and hope. What could we possibly want more than these? Whatever it is that you are facing right now, wouldn’t it be more easily borne, or more richly experienced if you were “filled with all joy and peace,” and “overflowing with hope”?

I chase those things on a continual basis. Shamefully though, my strategy is often different from what Paul outlines above. By default, I seek peace by trying to solve the problems that are vexing me, joy by doing something distracting and fun, and hope by begging God to intervene (despite often not really expecting He will).

Contrast all this to Romans 15:13. I’ll reorganize it to show the sequence:

  1. You trust in the God of hope.
  2. God fills you with all joy and peace.

  3. You overflow with hope.

It seems I’ve been doing this wrong. My job is not to fret and beg Him for things I don’t think He’ll do, all the while running worrisome scenarios through my mind that compel frantic activity. It is simply to trust Him. To relax and believe that whether through my circumstances, or despite my circumstances, He is working and will work for my ultimate good.

As I do that, He will fill me with all joy and peace. He provides those things; I don’t generate them, collect them, or earn them. They flow from Him as my anxious heart rests in His goodness. That is how He designed the universe to work.

All that joy and peace is converted to hope which spills out with such abundance that I have plenty to share with others.

I pray that God would give you the grace to trust Him with whatever you are facing, and that as you exercise trust, He would fill you with all joy and peace, resulting in overflowing hope, to His glory.

Tim Henderson
Vice President University Christian Union