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“keep on praying”
“Keep on praying” is our final effort in the list of three actions, Christ-followers are encouraged to take, found in verse 12 of Roman’s chapter 12, “Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying” (NLT).
At first, we may treat this step as a Sunday School answer and brush it off as cliche, but the Greek word here is proseuche and it gives prayer a different spin when walking through a difficult season.
Proseuche differs from the Greek word proseuchomai, which solely means to pray. Proseuche, on the other hand, used in Romans 12:12, emphasizes the location prayers were offered. The importance was that one would position them self where they could wash their hands before they prayed.
The priest predominately practiced the washing of hands before prayer in accordance with the law in Exodus 30:17-21. Temples were often built close to the water for this purpose.
In seasons of attack or drought or the mere distance from such a place would have made it tough to follow through with this detail preceding prayer. This is the spin. Paul encouraged us to continue to pray in this way during times of trouble.
The washing of hands before prayer for the early church would have had a deeper meaning as they would have grown to understand how water can symbolize the washing away of any impurities, a cleansing from actions that separate us from God. Washing the hands on the outside represented God cleansing their hearts on the inside.
The act of proseuche means we give our hearts to God first and continually as we walk through a dark time. We give our hearts over to be cleansed from bitterness, unforgiveness, anger, a hardening of our hearts, and any harmful seeds planted in our souls when going through a tough season.
In the struggle where Romans 12:12 became my battle cry, I experienced and am still working through the shame that is associated with depression along with other emotions and pain that can cloud my heart. When I offer my heart first for cleansing, my heart is placed in a position for healing from the words of people who meant well but whose words were hurtful and cleansed by receiving forgiveness for sins like pride.
To keep on offering my broken, hurt and sinful heart to God as a regular practice significantly affects my experience of walking through hardships.
To “keep on praying” is to continually offer our hearts to be purified by God’s grace before we make our requests of Him. Romans 12:12 is an encouragement for us to be:
“faithful in prayer” (NIV)
“constant in prayer” (ESV)
“devoted to prayer” (NASB)
“persistent in prayer” (HCSB)
“keep on praying” (NLT)
Faithful, constant, devoted, persistent, keep on – these varying descriptive words convey a level of determination to continually commit to a conversation with God with a heart that also seeks to be cleansed.
In Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians, he fired off a list of actions with one being, “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17, ESV). Here Paul uses the Greek word, proseuchomai. We are always to be praying, but when times become unbearable, our devotion to prayer needs to include persistence in proseuche, the prayer that consists of a place where we allow God to refine our hearts.
Action three teaches us we can walk through it when we first position our hearts to be purified in our persistence with prayer.
Imagine the difference in hardships if we continually did a heart check each time we prayed. Match that with patient endurance and confidence built on Jesus Christ; the three together provide a trifecta method for walking through the rough rocky times in our life.
It is my prayer that while you walk through your tough times, you will be about:
“constantly rejoicing in hope [because of our confidence in Christ], steadfast and patient in distress, devoted to prayer [continually seeking (a clean heart), wisdom, guidance, and strength]. Romans 12:12, AMP (added)
Meditation: Create in me a clean heart, O God.
Reflect: Is there anything in your heart that needs cleansing/healing? Are there any other items on the list in Romans 12:9-21 that speak to you in your current situation? Of the three methods mention in Romans 12:12 on how to walk through a difficult season, which one do you need to focus on most right now? Rejoicing in Christ as your confident hope? Patient endurance? Faithfully praying with offering your heart up for cleansing?
Digging Deeper: Psalm 51:1-2, 7-12; Ephesians 1: 16-19; 1 Thessalonians 5:14-22
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(Bible References: NRSV – New Revised Standard Version, NIV – New International Version, NASB – New American Standard Bible, ESV – English Standard Version, Holman Christian Standard Bible, AMP – Amplified Bible)
“G4335 – proseuchē – Strong’s Greek Lexicon (KJV).” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 20 May, 2021. <https://www.blueletterbible.org//lang/Lexicon/Lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G4335&t=KJV>.
“G4336 – proseuchomai – Strong’s Greek Lexicon (KJV).” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 20 May, 2021. <https://www.blueletterbible.org//lang/Lexicon/Lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G4336&t=KJV>.