Do you have a prayer list? If so, what’s on it? If you are like me, and most others that I know, it is filled with the personal and physical needs of self, family members, friends, and others you have come into contact with. And it will likely include some whose salvation you are praying for. All of that is well and good. But how do you pray for a believer who does not have cancer or the flu? Who is not having any problems at work or at home? Whose dog hasn’t run away? How do you pray for one who is faithfully serving God and loving others around them?
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Table of contents
An Example of Prayer
For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.Ephesians 1:15-17 NIV
In several of Paul’s letters, he gives us an example of how to pray for each other, and Ephesians 1:15-23 is one of those. Paul prays that the recipients of this letter would be given a spirit of wisdom and revelation so that they could know God better. This is very appealing because I do want to know God better, both intellectually and relationally. I want to know more about who God is, what he is doing in this world, and what he has planned for me. And I also want to have a more intimate relationship with him. I am not satisfied with where I am in my knowledge of God.
Paul’s example tells me that I can pray for increased intimacy with and knowledge of God. And not just for myself. I can pray this same thing for other believers who are in my life, including the members of the church I am a part of.
Knowing Three Things
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know . . .Ephesians 1:18a NIV
Paul also prays that the “eyes of our heart” would be enlightened. Paul is wanting his readers to see some things, not with their physical eyes, but with spiritual discernment. The three things he specifically mentions will all enable us to be more effective and to stand firm in the Lord’s service. Having eyes focused where they need to be will help to prevent discouragement and side trips on the journey he has set before us.
The Hope We Are Called To
. . . the hope to which he has called you, . . .Ephesians 1:18b NIV
The first of these three things is that we would “know the hope he has called us to“. God has called us to escape from a coming destruction and into an eternal future with him. That is currently a hope for us since it has not happened yet. But hope is not just a wish; it is a “favorable and confident expectation”, something we are confident will take place in his time. What a difference it should make in my life when I know what God has invited me to experience with him. The appeal of this world should fade and my desire should be for him.
Paul gives an example of what knowing this hope can do for you in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. Here Paul compared the light and momentary troubles he was experiencing with the eternal glory that awaited him and found that there was no comparison. All of the shipwrecks, beatings, and abuse that he suffered in carrying out the Lord’s commission to him were nothing compared to the hope he had. If we had that same vision of hope, what a difference it would make in how we lived today.
Our Glorious Inheritance
. . . the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, . . .Ephesians 1:18c NIV
The second thing Paul prays for us to know is “the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints.” In the Old Testament, Israel’s inheritance was the land that they lived in. It was given to them by God because they themselves belonged to God. But for New Testament believers there is no promise for a land of our own or for earthly riches. Rather we have a glorious inheritance that awaits us beyond this life; a place in the kingdom of God. Membership in the kingdom is something we have now, but the glory to be revealed in us is still an upcoming event. Why strive for the riches of this world that are temporary and pale in comparison with the glory of the eternal inheritance that awaits me.
In Romans 8:15-17, Paul tells us that as children of God we are heirs of God, co-heirs with Christ. Our inheritance is not just a little pittance or afterthought. Rather we will be joint-heirs with Christ. I don’t know just what to make of being a joint heir with Christ, but at the very least it tells me that what awaits is going to be pretty special. What is there in this world that is worth comparing with the inheritance that awaits us? Why should anything in this world lure my attention away from that?
God’s Great Power For Us
. . . and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.Ephesians 1:19-23 NIV
The third thing on his prayer list is that we would know “his great power for us who believe.” God’s power is directed toward us, shaping and enabling us, conforming us to the image of Christ. That same power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him above all things is also at work in my life. Knowing that God’s power is at work within should keep me from discouragement and thoughts of “I can’t do that” when God calls me to do something. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
To know God better, and to have a better understanding of what he is doing within me and what he has prepared for me; this was Paul’s prayer for other believers. And it is also my prayer for you as well as for myself. What could be better than a closer and more effective walk with our Creator and Lord?
Some Questions to Consider
- What aspect of this prayer is the most meaningful in your life now?
- Is there some portion of this prayer that you can incorporate into your prayers for yourself and for others?
- What does it mean to be able to experience God’s power?
You are welcome to respond to these questions in the comment section below. If you do, be sure to check the “Notify me” checkbox just above the Post Comment button so you can get any feedback. Note that all comments are moderated. Only respectful comments relevant to the topic will be posted.
All Posts In This Series
- Ephesians: A Brief Introduction
- Ephesians: Spiritual Blessings (1:3-14)
- Ephesians: A Prayer for Believers (1:15-23)
- Ephesians: From Death Into Life, An Act of Grace (2:1-7)
- Ephesians: Amazing Grace (2:8-10)
- Ephesians: Tearing Down the Wall of Hostility (2:11-22)
- Ephesians: A Mystery Revealed (3:1-13)
- Ephesians: Rooted and Established In Love (3:14-21)
- Ephesians: Walking Worthy (4:1-6)
- Ephesians: Growing a Mature Church (4:11-16)
- Ephesians: Put on the New Self (4:17-32)
- Ephesians: Imitators of God (5:1-20)
- Ephesians: Life in the Family (5:21-6:9)
- Ephesians: The Bride of Christ (5:25-32)
- Ephesians: Spiritual Warfare (6:10-20)
The views expressed here are solely mine and do not necessarily reflect those of any other person, group, or organization. While I believe they reflect the teachings of the Bible, I am a fallible human and subject to misunderstanding. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions about this post in the comments section below. I am always interested in your feedback.
If you have found value in this post, please consider subscribing to A Clay Jar so that you don’t miss any other posts.
4 thoughts on “Ephesians: A Prayer for Believers (1:15-23)”
Thanks., I appreciated this. I shared on Facebook.
Thanks. I come back to this prayer frequently. It helps me to know how to pray for other believers.
It’s been good to revisit this short but dynamic prayer. I like your 3rd question: What does it mean to be able to experience God’s power?
While we may be attracted to doing miraculous works, the reality is that in the Biblical revelation they do not occupy a significant place at all. Rather, God’s power was seen in enduring in troubling times. This was certainly true for Jesus life and for each of the apostles. The apostle James exhorts us to Count it all joy when we face various (multi-faceted) trials, James 1, and certainly Paul instructs the new believers in Thessalonica to be prepared to suffer.
God’s power is made perfect in weakness, Paul said, after he pleaded with God to remove his “thorn in the flesh.” We are loved well by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, but he was quite explicit that how others treat the Master, so they will treat those who follow also. We have a cross to bear- and that takes the power of God.
I wrote an article about this for another website that was published last week. It relates to your comments.