Ephesians 1:15-23
“Please pray for my aunt who is having medical tests tomorrow afternoon; she needs God’s healing.” “Remember my brother who is looking for employment; he’s been out of work several months.” “Ask God to help my son get good grades on his finals; he’s trying to get a scholarship.”

Sound familiar? These types of prayer requests occur commonly in our churches. How do they compare with the way Paul prayed for his Christian friends? His prayer for the Ephesian believers instructs us how to pray for others.

Pray with Thanksgiving
Paul was especially thankful for the faith and love manifested by the Ephesians. As we think of other believers, we should thank God for their faith in the Lord Jesus, which makes us brothers and sisters in Him. That faith should demonstrate itself in love for others, and Paul thanked God that this was the case. Love for the saints is evidence of genuine faith, and this includes all the saints, not just those in our private circles of fellowship.

Pray for Enlightenment
Paul did not pray for temporal things such as health, employment or school needs. Paul prayed for that which has eternal value, spiritual enlightenment concerning four critical subjects.

Paul first prayed believers would know God (v. 1:17). We need to know God, the Father of glory. God’s character is glorious, and glory proceeds from His character. Knowing God is possible through the Spirit of wisdom, an Old Testament reference to the Holy Spirit (Isa. 11:2). Believers already have the Holy Spirit in our lives (Eph. 1:13-14), but He must work in us to illumine us with God’s truth. He gives us wisdom to know God’s will, enables us to understand God’s revelation in His Word, and directs us to know Him better. The ultimate object of the Spirit’s enlightenment is not temporal, but is God Himself.

Paul also prayed believers would know God’s calling (v. 1:18a). We need spiritual insight, from the depth of our thought process (eyes of the heart, cf. Ps. 19:8) so we can see the grand hope to which God has called us by His grace. That future hope is identified in verse 1:10 as when God will “bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.” We only are able to have this hope through spiritual enlightenment.

Third, Paul prayed for believers to know they are God’s riches (v. 1:18b). Yes, believers have an inheritance in Christ (Col. 3:24), and we are joint heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:17). In this text, however, Paul prayed that Christians would understand fully how they themselves are God’s valuable inheritance.

The fourth petition of Paul is the longest, as he prayed for believers to know God’s power (vv. 1:19-23). He began by asserting that God’s power is incomparably great. It has inherent vital strength which effectively can overcome any resistance and manifest complete control.  Consider the power of engines. Some engines are small and designed for fuel efficiency, such as compact cars. Some are large and designed for pulling great weight, such as 18-wheelers. Some are powerful enough to lift rockets into space, but no such engine can compare to the power of God, and His power is available for those who believe.

Paul also demonstrated how great God’s power is. It is demonstrated first in Christ’s resurrection (v. 1:20a). God’s effective power operated in raising Christ against all the forces of Satan, hell and death. That was not the conclusion of God’s power, however. God’s power then placed Christ in the position of honor and authority above all human and angelic authority (vv. 1:20b-22). Finally, God’s power placed Christ as head over everything that relates to the church (vv. 1:22b-23). All of this is what Paul prayed believers would understand and act upon in their daily lives.

The next time you gather with your Christian friends for prayer, focus on these items. When God answers this prayer, the benefits are eternal, God is glorified, and you are strengthened.

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