What do you pray for others? What informs and motivates your prayers?
Read Ephesians 1:15-23.
The apostle Paul founded the church in Ephesus in the first century. After being imprisoned, he wrote the letter of Ephesians to them. “For this reason” points back to v 3-14, which motivates everything else in the letter and should be read with these verses. V 15-23 contains the author’s (Paul) prayer for the continuing work of God in his readers, which grows out of his thanks for what God has already accomplished in them. Summary: A) Paul has received a report of their faith and love (v 15). B) Because of their actions, he gives thanks and prays for them (v 16). C) Paul prays for the gift of revelation to know God better (v 17-23).
Five Implications for Us
First, Paul’s prayer in 1:15-23 reveals a conviction of prayer and a commitment to other believers. It reveals a depth of relationship he felt with people who were important to him and his faith – his example encouraged the Ephesians to pray continually for all of God’s people (6:18).
Second, Paul’s understanding of God’s actions formed the basis of his prayer and was reflected in his prayer. It means he knows the kind of God to whom he was praying.
Third, Paul’s request that God give the Spirit of wisdom and understanding means Christian living requires a continual openness to the Holy Spirit so we can better know God. One of the tasks of the Spirit is to help Christians know what God has given us (1 Cor 2:12).
Fourth, Paul’s prayer offers a basis for hope. We know meaninglessness, and not hope. We have a sense that we cannot solve our problems – individually or as a culture. Hope is as rare today as it was in the first century. The truth is that all humans live oppressed by meaninglessness and evil. We are taught to insulate ourselves from despair with social media and other forms of entertainment. We believe that “all will live happily ever after.” While life and God’s creation are good and to be enjoyed, we must always remember the truth that there are no happy endings – at least not in this life. We must all deal with meaninglessness, evil, sickness, and death.
God’s work in Christ addresses our meaninglessness, the problem of evil, and even death. Christianity really helps those who are desperate because death is not the end. Paul’s prayer points to God’s power to bring life from death – a power available both now so we can deal with the death in which we live and for the future when the dead are raised. This hope is grounded in the resurrection of Jesus and in Pentecost. Christians need to live “from the future” God has established – a change from meaninglessness to an awareness that God’s new age has begun and hope is given to us.
Fifth, Paul’s prayer reveals a need to emphasize the resurrection and exaltation of Jesus to the highest place. He is Lord and all is and must be submitted to him.
Grow devotionally. Would you be willing to pray Ephesians 1:15-23 for your friends each day for a week? Using Paul’s prayer, what could your answered prayers look like? Imitate Paul’s example and pray a prayer that Christians may realize God’s purpose and power.
Love is a verb,
©2019 by Mike Olejarz