“Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer” (Romans 12:12). These three virtues: hope, patient endurance, and perseverance in prayer are essential to our Christian faith lives. They are the basis of our ability to love God and one another. This verse comes in the 12th chapter of Paul’s letter to the Romans, which is a perfect “mini-catechism,” teaching us the things that are necessary for us to really live out our Christian faith in our daily lives.
Among those necessary virtues are those listed in our verse for today. Hope is the proper response to God’s promises. This can be seen in Abraham, who even though he was old had the confidence to believe that God would fulfill his promises. “Against all hope, Abraham in hope, believed” (Romans 4:18). Generally speaking, the Scriptures are a means of engendering our hope. The Holy Spirit is the source of our hope and his power causes hope to abound (Romans 15:13). Hope is ultimately a gift from God through grace (2 Thessalonians 2:16). It is hope that leads to joy (Romans 12:12) and to faith and love (Colossians 1:4-5).
We can endure the spiritual and social trials that come our way, because of our hope in God. The virtue of patient endurance gives us the ability to wait. It is a virtue that is associated with both moral and spiritual maturity. It is this virtue that give us the strength to delay gratification in the things of the world, and the moral courage to endure even great suffering for the sake of the higher goods that God calls us to in this life. It is a virtue that gives our love for others stamina. With it we can be patient with the weaknesses and failings of others, more importantly, with our own weaknesses and failures.
But it is perseverance in prayer that keeps us close to God. It is in prayer that we deepen our relationship with the One who is the source of all that is good, true, and beautiful. It is prayer that opens our hearts to his love for us. Prayer helps us to see the wisdom of bending our wills to his alone. Prayer strengthens us in trials. Prayer binds us to God, opens us up to his graces. We need to practice this virtue of perseverance in prayer by praying for one another. It is also our finest means for praising God, and for giving him thanks for all he has done on our behalf.
Lord, increase our hope and our joy in you. Help us to learn the virtue of patient endurance in all things, and give us prayerful hearts, so that we may always draw near to you throughout our days. We pray these things in your name, Jesus. Amen!
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