The Apostle’s Prayer
“15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit[f] of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 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. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” Ephesians 1:15-23 NIV (emphasis mine)
What we pray for often reveals what’s in our hearts. Prayers often reveal our intimate desires, passion, and what our heart longs for. As we move into the last section of Ephesians 1, we observe a prayer of thanksgiving from Paul and for enlightenment for God’s people. Let’s see what we can observe about the heart of the Apostle in the prayer of Paul.
1 – Paul prays for those who are doing well. V 15
Paul’s prayer of thanksgiving presents such a different line of thought than ours. He prays for the saints because he heard they were had a great faith in Jesus and love for God’s people. We have the modern western mindset to go to the doctor when we are sick. Maybe we’d be wise to learn from Paul and seek the King instead to keep us healthy and strong… rather than waiting until we are doing badly and need to be restored.
I have a tendency to pray for people when they are doing badly… when they need healing, encouragement, protection, or are hurting. We learn later in Ephesians about Spiritual Warfare from Paul, and we are going to discover that the enemy goes after those who are strong and have an influence for Jesus. He doesn’t need to come against those who have strayed, are weak, and fallen. The enemy tries hard to take out those who are walking with Jesus, loving others, and leading them to Christ. I wonder how many strong leaders fall today because we fail to pray for them.
2 – Paul prays continuously. V 16
The Greek idea behind this passage when Paul says “cease not” is the same a s a “tickle in the throat.” In other words, Paul prayed for them naturally over the course of his days. It wasn’t one long cough, uggggggggggggghhhhh. It’d be more similar to the clearing of one’s throat. Paul’s prayer was not one long constant prayer, but more of one that continued on with him throughout the day. Continuous prayer meant praying whenever he had a thought or inclination.
3 – Paul doesn’t pray for a change in behavior, but a spirit of revelation and wisdom. V 17.
Paul doesn’t encourage believers to try and pray themselves out of something they behaved themselves into (like we often try too). Isn’t it interesting to see that Paul doesn’t pray for their situations to change and for their problems to go away? He doesn’t pray for their safety or that they would not face persecution. Instead he prays that their eyes of their heart would be opened to the hope for which God has called them.
How many times have we prayed for revelation when someone is struggling? How many times have we prayed for wisdom and for eyes of our hearts to be opened to a greater understanding of the hope that lies before us?
4 – Paul doesn’t pray for easier circumstances, but for greater power. V. 19-20
When times are rough, I like to pray for easier situations. I pray for God to open doors. I pray for God to make the paths straight. I pray for God to make the circumstances easier. I want an easier transition in ministry. I want things to go my way at work. I want my co-workers to be easy to work with. While we tend to pray for easier challenges, Paul teaches us instead to pray for greater power.
Rather than praying for a change in circumstances, we can see Paul praying for a change in perspective (much like Nehemiah prayed). When was the last time, you gave up praying for easier circumstances and started to contend with God for greater power?
Thank You Jesus for this glimpse into the heart of the great Apostle Paul. Lord renew my heart to pray more for my leaders, to pray continuously, pray for revelation, and to pray for greater power. In the awesome name of Jesus Christ I pray, amen.