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?
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. And 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 an 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; for the other 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 their heart’ would be enlightened. Paul is wanting his readers to see some things, not with their physical eyes, but with a spiritual discernment. The three things he specifically mentions will all enable them 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, or invited, 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 can make in my life when I know what God has invited me to experience with him. How the appeal of this world should fade and my desire turn toward him.
Paul gives an example of what knowing this hope can do for you in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. Here Paul compares the light and momentary troubles he is experiencing with the eternal glory that awaits him and finds that there is no comparison. All of the ship wrecks, beatings and abuse that he suffered in carrying out the Lord’s commission to him are nothing compared to the hope he has. If we had that vision of the hope he had called us to, 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 after thought. 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. 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 1:15-23 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 that a closer and more effective walk with our Creator and Lord.
All Posts In This Series
- A Brief Introduction to Ephesians: Who and Why - This brief introduction to Ephesians will share some of the ideas of authorship, audience and purpose that many scholars see, as well as my views.
- Spiritual Blessings – Ephesians 1:3-14 - God has given his spiritual blessings to us in the heavenly realm. And we have these blessing because we are in Christ. Praise God for all he has done.
- Prayer – Ephesians 1:15-23 - In Ephesians 1:15-23, Paul's prayer for the recipients of this letter is for a spirit of wisdom and revelation so that they could know God better.
- From Death Into Life: An Act of Grace – Ephesians 2:1-7 - In my natural state I was spiritually dead, separated from the life of God. But by his grace, I have been made alive, with a life that will never end.
- Amazing Grace – Ephesians 2:8-10 - Grace. More specifically God's grace. As believers we talk about it a lot, frequently defining it as God's unmerited favor towards us. And indeed it is. It is by God's grace that we are saved, and not by anything we can do (Ephesians 2:8). God's grace has dealt with our sin and we now have a future with him. It is unfortunate however that we often leave it there.
- Tearing Down Walls – Ephesians 2:11-22 - In Christ it makes no difference whether we are Jew or Gentile. We are all one body in him because of grace. It is by faith in what Jesus did that we come into relationship with God now; not by adherence to the commands and regulations of the law. Because observance of the law as a means to righteousness has been replaced by God's grace, we are all equally able to stand before God, not because of what I have done, but because of what he did.
- The Mystery of Christ – Ephesians 3:1-13 - And the mystery is not only that the barrier that separated Jews from Gentiles has been eliminated. But also that the need for a priestly intermediary has been removed. All believers now also serve as priests and each have direct access to the throne of God.
- Rooted and Established In Love – Ephesians 3:14-21 - Paul prays that the Ephesians would be rooted and established in love, a suitable dwelling place for the Holy Spirit.
- Walking Worthy – Ephesians 4:1-6 - What does walking worthy of our calling mean? In the context of Ephesians 4:1-6, it refers to our role in the body of Christ. Be the best member you can be.
- Growing a Mature Church – Ephesians 4:11-16 - Christ provides his church with the necessary equippers to that we can be a mature church, fully equipped to do the work he has called us to.
- Out With the Old, In With the New – Ephesians 4:17-32 - How do I live as an effective member of the body of Christ? It involves personal transformation, putting off the old self, and taking on the new self.
- Imitators of God – Ephesians 5:1-20 - Don't be like the world around you. Instead, be imitators of God by living a life of love, living as a child of the light, and living with wisdom.
- Married to Jesus – Ephesians 5:22-33 - One of the images for the church in the New Testament is the Bride of Christ. This image pictures the intimate relationship between Christ and his church.
- All In the Family – Ephesians 5:21-6:9 - Paul's instructions to first century families contains useful information for families today. It also contains advice for workplace relationships.
- Spiritual Warfare – Ephesians 6:10-20 - A spiritual battle is raging all around us. So take up the armor God provides so you can stand your ground and be engaged in that spiritual warfare.
- May 26, 2011: Original post
- July 20, 2018: Updated for content and SEO