“Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;” (Romans 12:12)
The Christian is commanded to be continuously rejoicing in Jesus Christ. This is a heart attitude. The man who is most controlled by the Spirit is not necessarily the one who is always smiling. In and of itself, a continuous smile is not wrong, and may indeed be indication of the Spirit's filling; however, there is a danger in equating the Spirit's filling with a smile. Some of the most carnal, miserable Christians have a constant smile. The rejoicing of this verse is a result of allowing Christ to be all sufficient. The Lord Himself is the best example of how a man can continually rejoice even though he may face extremely difficult circumstances. The believer is enabled by the Spirit to rejoice in the sure and solid hope of Jesus Christ, but he will have to make a choice to do so (Psalm 57:9). The flesh does not delight in praising God regardless of the situation. The flesh is self-centered, and enjoys attention and sympathy from others. Rejoicing oftentimes will not draw in people's attention in the way the flesh desires; however, rejoicing will bring the favor of God, and, in the end, this attention will prove to be the only type which truly sustains the soul.
The word patient is comprised of two parts, which, when put together, give the meaning of remaining under. Human nature encourages a man to remove himself from the pressures at hand; therefore, one's own feelings cannot be the guide by which decisions are made, especially during trials. God commands the Christian to remain under the trials which He has allowed. God permits such things so that He might work out profitable chastening. Such chastening encourages the believer to focus on Jesus Christ. During the course of such events, the believer is being sanctified by the Spirit as he is taught to disregard his own feelings and live by faith in biblical principles (Hebrews 12:5-11). This doctrine is contrary to what the flesh wants to hear; yet, it is biblical. Trials build positive Christian character while encouraging the saint to look for the “...blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13).”
Continuing instant has the idea of being busily engaged in or devoted to. This powerful weapon of prayer is often the last to be wielded in battle when it should be the first. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself, though God in the flesh, busied Himself with an attitude of prayer. A man need not be constantly on his knees throughout the day in order to be in obedience to this command. Prayer can be a frame of mind as easily as anything (I Thessalonians 5:17). Times for stopping all else and bowing in prayer are right and good, but why not carry this heart attitude right into the daily actions? Would God be displeased with the man or woman who chose to seek His approval in all that they do throughout the day? Would He be bothered by the child who considers his responsibility to the higher Authority while completing his chores? God's presence and life-giving principles may be considered and meditated upon at any time. God's approval may be sought at any moment. A prayer of dependance and godly fear may be uttered at any hour. Let the saint of God spend time on his knees in devoted prayer, and let him continue this attitude in his business for the day. With such a lifestyle, the flesh will truly have a more difficult time in getting the better of a man.