32 That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed.
This was one of the several personal requests that Paul made to the believers in Rome for their prayer. He appealed to them for prayer (vv. 30-32). Though he was a man of great faith, abundant wisdom, astounding courage and extraordinary success in his Gospel endeavours, he constantly solicited prayers of fellow brethren (Ephesians 6:18-19; Philippians 1:19; Colossians 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 5:25; 2 Thessalonians 3:1- 2; Philemon 1:22; Hebrews 13:18-19). Paul was acutely aware of his needs and weaknesses, and humbly sought the co-operation of his brethren to fulfil his desires in the LORD. Like a thriving businessman dependent on those around him, the apostle in his increasing “business” for the Lord sought the prayers of fellow Christians.
Paul asked them to pray for his upcoming ministry in Jerusalem, where there were many hostile unbelievers who could cause him serious harm. So he would have them to pray for his deliverance from the violence of the hostile unbelievers, and for his service to be accepted by the saints in Jerusalem. He then desired the earnest prayers of the believers in Rome concerning his plan to visit them. Even as he yearned to have the joy of seeing them and of being refreshed by their fellowship, he knew there were many obstacles that could impede his intended journey to Rome.
To God’s servants like Paul, nothing is more reviving and refreshing to their hearts than the loving presence and communion of God’s people. How we ought to pray that we will be used of the Lord to minister joy and comfort to His servants who labour in His vineyard! We should not only pray for safety and success in their ministries, but also for us to be a means of spiritual and physical refreshing to His faithful servants. There is no better way to show our brotherhood and solidarity with the ministers of the Gospel than our prayerful availability and refreshing fellowship.
Though Paul desired the joy and comfort of their fellowship, he remained submissive to God’s sovereign will. So he asked them to pray that he “may come … by the will of God”. He trusted in the wise disposing of God’s providence. For Paul, God’s will mattered more than his own desires. He only finally arrived in Rome as a prisoner for the Gospel to testify before Caesar (cf. Acts 21:17-28:16; Philippians 1:12, 13; 4:22). Truly, man proposes, God disposes! God’s greater purposes must prevail in and through us.