it's worth sharing because it's sure.
"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."
Just reading this verse makes my heart say, “Yes! And amen!”
It’s a blessing, a prayer that is just so rich and beautiful I am overwhelmed by the promise of it. So, I keep saying it to myself on repeat, praying it for others, and speaking it over my kids. May it be true of me and of them and of you too! In fact, before we get going, I just want to pray it over you.
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.
These are God’s words—as true, as good, and as trustworthy as the God who gave them to us. They’re meant to be shared with others. And they are for us.
But they weren’t for us first.
They were for someone else. And when we look at this verse’s original intent, we get a more complete and beautiful picture of what they mean not just for them, but for us too. So, though this amazing blessing is meant for us, it was originally written to another people—people who were actually a lot like us, living in a “melting pot” place, figuring out how to love God and live out their diverse lives together in unity. These people were not neat and tidy, anything but, and they needed some instruction (just like we do). So, Paul spends three and a half chapters in his letter to the Romans explaining how they can and should get along just like the interdependent parts of a body (Romans 12:3-8). This was a tall order for newer Christians coming from very diverse backgrounds. And it’s no accident that this prayer comes at the end of his instructions for Christian living. It is the overflow of his heart for them and a reminder of their shared and sure hope.
A shared hope.
Paul’s prayer reminded these diverse believers that because of Jesus they now were far more similar and unified than they were different. Paul went to great lengths to make that clear, not just in this verse, but in the preceding verses. He quotes four Old Testament verses about God’s great unifying plan of salvation for all people (including non-Jews, known as Gentiles, which most of us reading today are), ending with these words, quoted from Isaiah 11:10 “...in him the Gentiles will have hope” (Romans 15:12). Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of this verse, the hope of the Jews and the Gentiles—the hope of all people. Paul jumps from that quote right into his prayer calling on the “God of hope” to bless them. This hope they have is in the same God.
A sure hope.
There’s something else we can learn from these ancient promises from Isaiah: our hope is a sure hope because it is rooted in the God of hope. Those promises made hundreds of years earlier were once just a hope, a not-yet-fulfilled promise. But now, in Christ, they are no longer just a hope, but a firm reality. God, in his power, goodness, and faithfulness has fulfilled the words of those promises in Jesus.
Much needed joy, peace, and hope.
Remember that this prayer comes at the end of a section on Christian living? It’s a tall order, and I imagine those Roman Christians thinking, “We could never do all of that!” And they would’ve been right. They couldn’t. But this little prayer at the end of that section works against despair, reminding them that they didn’t have to muster up the much needed joy, peace, and hope on their own. God himself would equip them with everything they needed to fulfill what he was calling them to do. God would give them abundant joy to guard their hearts when things were difficult. God would give them peace—peace in spite of differences, peace they desperately needed if they were going to get along. And the God of hope would supply them with overflowing hope even in seemingly hopeless situations. They didn’t have to grit their teeth and work hard to please God. No. God was pleased to empower them and equip them with the joy, peace and hope they needed.
This is a shared prayer worth sharing.
This prayer isn’t just for them, it’s for us too! Don’t we need joy in trials, peace in our uncertainties, and hope when we feel hopeless? This is the prayer for us, right now! Even across the boundaries of time, this prayer still stands, because the God of hope transcends all boundaries. The same God of the Jewish-Gentile Romans is our God today. And his offer of abundant joy, peace, and hope still stands. We can pray this prayer for ourselves today. We can ask for God to bless all our people and even (and maybe especially) those who are not “our people.” We need this prayer. It’s a prayer worth sharing, because it is sure.
Who will you share this prayer with this week?
Thanks for reading,
Meet Natalie,Dwell co-founder
Hi there, I'm Natalie. I'm so glad you're here. I'd love to connect with you and hear more about what God is doing in your life!
ON THE PODCAST
What Is Hope? // Natalie Abbott
Have you ever wondered what “hope” really means? Is it just a wish, or is biblical hope something more? In today’s teaching episode, Natalie fills us in on the context of Romans 15:13, how we can understand this verse rightly, and why it is so important and encouraging for our everyday lives. But this hope isn’t just for us—it’s an overflowing hope for those around us as well, that they too might meet Jesus, the source and sustainer of our hope. This prayer from Romans is a message we need to hear!