I want to be like the Apostle Paul when I grow up....
He traveled the world, giving everything for the sake of the Gospel. He poured himself out, serving the wider church to see it grow.
And he prayed like a beast.
Whenever Paul shares one of his prayers in the New Testament, it makes me perk up, lean in, and listen. His prayers challenge me and refocus me on what’s most important.
Check out one of his prayers for the church in Ephesus:
For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 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, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.
Ephesians 1:15-19 (NIV)
A Prayer without Self
Though this prayer is not a template prayer (like the Lord’s Prayer), there are some notable things missing from it:
- Comfort. Paul doesn’t pray for the believers’ comfort here. Though they lived in Ephesus, a city which would have valued comforts, he doesn’t list that here.
- Himself. Paul isn't asking the church to pray for him (though he does elsewhere in the New Testament). Rather, he's letting them know how he prays for them continually.
So, what stood out to you in Paul's prayer so far? For me, a couple things jump out...
A Prayer of Joy
Paul's love for this church is just oozing in this prayer. He hasn't "stopped giving thanks" for them and has prayed for them continually since he heard of their faith in Christ.
This challenges me: Am I in continual joy over others' faith in Jesus? Is it sparking a daily habit of prayer for them to be strong and to grow in their faith?
How many of our prayers focus on ourselves rather others? Of course, nothing is wrong about praying through your own situations (Jesus did that), but if it's all we pray about...well, it reflects we need more of Paul's perspective.
A Prayer for Spiritual Victory
Paul knows the secret to a successful life. He prays for them to "know" God fully through His wisdom and power. To live a life with a heart receiving His hope, looking forward to His coming kingdom.
"Am I in continual joy over others' faith in Jesus?"
Paul also targets his prayer on their greatest need: Knowing God and living in His victory.
Historically, this was an important prayer for the church at Ephesus. This ancient port city boasted a large temple to Artemis, an outdoor theatre, marketplaces, and "lavish" wealth according to the ESV Study Bible notes. Paul saw the fledgling church's spark of faith, so he prayed for it to deepen. He knew, if left untended, idol worship or the distractions of wealth would choke-out their faith.
Paul's prayer, in its historical context, seems relevant to our culture. Though we don't have temples to idols, we do house our own spiritual distractions. We are surrounded by wealth and comforts.
May we adopt this prayer of spiritual victory for ourselves and for others.
"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, and his incomparably great power for us who believe."
- The Apostle Paul
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For more on powerful prayers, check out this post...
For some background on the book of Ephesians:
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