Ephesians 1:15-23: 10 Lessons from Paul’s Prayer
June 2, 2019
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
When we listen to godly men and women pray, it is worth observing exactly how they pray and what they pray. How much more so when we have the opportunity to overhear the apostle Paul pray, as he prays here in this second half of chapter 1 of his letter to the Ephesians. What can we learn from Paul’s prayer? Here are ten lessons from Paul’s prayer.
First, Paul begins with thanks. “I have not stopped giving thanks for you.”
Second, though, notice what Paul gives thanks for. He is thanking God for their “faith in the Lord Jesus and [their] love for all God’s people.” That is the focus of Paul’s thanksgiving: the spiritual matters, the gospel matters, the faith and the love of God’s people.
Third, we should also notice how frequently Paul prays. “I have not stopped giving thanks for you.” This, presumably, does not mean that Paul was in a perpetual prayer meeting. From reading the Book of Acts, we know that he did many other things besides pray. What it means is that Paul did not stop praying for them – they were on his prayer list, and he was faithful in praying for them. It may also mean that Paul carried around him an ongoing continual attitude of prayer in addition to his daily times set aside for prayer.
Fourth, but what then does Paul actually pray for? He is praying that they might “know [God] better.” His focus is their knowledge of God. Their relationship to God. Their knowing about who God is, and their personal knowledge of God being experientially true.
Fifth, how, according to Paul’s prayer, are they to achieve this getting to know God better? They will do it as God gives them “the Spirit of wisdom and revelation.” The knowledge of God is increased by an increasing revelation of the Spirit, through God’s Word, as he illuminates our hearts to understand his revelation in the Bible.
Sixth, this knowledge that Paul is praying for is not merely information, it is transformation. He is asking that the “eyes of [their] heart may be enlightened.” This is the work of the Spirit to give them a spiritual sense of who God is.
Seventh, what is the purpose of this ongoing getting to know God better? It is so that they might live in the light of the certainty of heaven. It is “in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.” When Christians know God better and better, they are assured of the reality of heaven and reassured of their destiny.
Eighth, he wants them to know the power of God. “His incomparably great power for us who believe.” How little do we understand of the power of God for his people who believe! How differently would we live, with what greater boldness and confidence, if we knew the incomparable power of God for us who believe!
Ninth, what then is this power that is at work in us who believe? It is the very same as the power that raised Jesus from the dead. “That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead.”
And so, finally, tenth, Paul closes his prayer with overflowing praise for Jesus. “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.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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