"First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God's will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you—that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine. I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome."
Paul seemed to be writing to the Romans as if they were his own children. His words are like those of a proud father who is taking glory in the fact that his children have been proclaiming their faith in Jesus Christ throughout the known world. Paul was thankful for the opportunity to write to and encourage the hearts of the Roman Christians.
His heart was full for the Romans, as he prayed for them continually, without ceasing. We know that Paul is using a figure of speech and is not praying every second of the day for them. However, he is constantly in prayer--probably praying small prayers throughout the day at different times—and when he prays, he is praying for the specific needs of the Roman church, and also that the Lord would grant him the opportunity to visit them. We should use Paul’s example of prayer, taking time out of the day to continually pray for the needs of the saints.
Paul’s hope and desire was to finally visit the Roman believers in order to encourage them and to impart a spiritual gift of grace to strengthen the congregation through the message of Christ, general blessings from God, and specific ministerial gifts. His hope and prayer was that both he and the Roman believers would be encouraged by each other’s faith in and testimony to Christ. Not only did the Apostle seek to impart the spiritual wisdom and discernment that the Lord had provided him, but he also sought to be encouraged by and learn from the Romans’ faith.
Paul’s great desire was to come and personally minister to the Roman church. He no doubt had tried, but he was under divine obligation to preach the gospel to the Greeks, which prevented him from visiting the Romans. We know that God is sovereign and works in all things. God did not want Paul to visit the Romans at this time, but instead to continue to minister to the Gentiles in Greece and Asia, and to those who professed themselves to be wise, but were actually fools (1:22).