Zev Porat

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Paul's Prayer for the Ephesians: Ephesians 1:16ff

As a student of God's Word there are moments when one is confounded by the simplicity of the principles within God's Word yet awestruck at the deep level of application stemming from those principles. One of these places where a simple principle garners deep application is found in Ephesians 1:16 and following. As Paul was writing to the believers of Christ in Ephesus, he made a statement about his prayers for the Ephesians. Now, on the surface one may think, "Prayer is a basic element within the Christian life," but there lies the simple principle. If one has come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, then prayer should be a basic principle. Prayer is communication with God Almighty through the leadership of the Holy Spirit, based upon Jesus providing a bridge for humanity to be right with God. While there are different types of prayers (prayers of forgiveness, prayers of thanksgiving, etc…), prayer in its most basic understanding should be a common occurrence within the life of a believer. In 1 Thessalonians 5:17 Paul instructed those within the church to "pray continually." Jesus thought highly enough of prayer to teach the disciples how to pray in Matthew 5:5-15. Moreover, Jesus modeled having a regular time of quiet prayer with God in Mark 1:35 and Luke 5:16. We can liken this regular time of prayer to the need for regular communication within friendship relationships, husband/wife relationships, and parent/child relationships. Without regular and meaningful communication there is no relationship intimacy or growth; without communication these relationships resemble those of acquaintances instead of their intended design as committed relationships. Thus, prayer is regular communication with God in which one talks and, more importantly, listens to God for the purpose of deepening one's relationship with God.

As basic as the principle of prayer may seem, Paul took the application of prayer to a deep and personal level. In Ephesians 1:16 Paul wrote, "I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers." Paul was writing to the body of believers in Ephesus in the early days of Christianity; thus, the body of believers was spiritually young and had much to learn about how a relationship with Jesus Christ affected every area of life. Paul heard of the faith of the church in Ephesus and began praying for them. His prayer, however, was not half-hearted, shallow, or self-centered. Paul's prayer for the Ephesians was that the believers would know personally and intimately God's wisdom, God's enlightenment, and God's incomparable power. Paul wanted the people to grow spiritually deeper on a regular basis.

Can you imagine what would happen if those of us who have surrendered our lives to Jesus Christ would model Paul's prayer to the Ephesians when praying for our fellow believers around the world? Can you imagine how much the whole body of believers could be built up if the individuals who make up the body would stop tearing each other down and start praying continually for our fellow brothers and sisters to know God better and be enlightened by God's great power? Imagine with me what marriage would look like if husbands and wives pray like this for one another. Imagine how children would experience a deep knowledge of God if parents would pray for their children as Paul prayed for the Ephesians in Ephesians 1:16 and following. My prayer for all who read this is that God may transcend your thoughts and actions so that you may come face-to-face with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit and have your minds open to the incredible power of God displayed in Jesus Christ's death on the cross. I also challenge all who read this to stop being trivial in prayer. Embrace prayer as an opportunity to speak to God Almighty and to lift up our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, our husbands and wives, our children, and our hearts into the throne room of God.

James Christopher Powell has served as assistant minister in Northwest Florida for ten years. 
He studies at The Baptist College of Florida where he is working on a Master's degree in Christians Studies.
He married his wife Jennifer in March 2014.

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