Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. (ESV)
In the previous chapter the Apostle Paul speaks of the unbelief that plagues his Jewish brothers and sisters. He could have simply given up on them. They had been the main instigators behind the persecution he faced in preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He was not willing to give up on them. He belonged to them, and they to him.
Paul's heart's desire and prayer was that the Jews would be saved. I love how Paul does more than desire that the Jews be saved. He also prays to God that salvation would come to the Jews. This is not a small thing. Sometimes people say, "All I can do is pray," as if praying was a last resort, or a small thing. Praying is the very thing we should be doing as an action plan for our unsaved friends.
In the next chapter of Romans Paul actually describes himself as an apostle to the Gentiles. Romans 11:13 says, "Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry." Paul was called by God to bring the message of the Gospel to the Gentiles, yet he had not forgotten his roots.
Paul's desire was for his own people. He wanted them to know the life transforming power of God that turned him from a persecuter of the church to one of it's greatest spokesmen. Paul was driven by a heart of love. A heart that loved those who no longer loved him. This is the key to all true evangelism. We must love others, in spite of their reaction.
Who is part of your family that gives you grief for following Christ? Make it your heart's desire and prayer to God that they may be saved. Prayer is not the last resort. Prayer is a powerful connection with a God who is able to work on our behalf and for his glory.