In my previous devotional, I wrote about prayer, and today I want to further this discussion by providing another window into a practice that has proved beneficial to me for my own prayer life. As I started to study Biblical prayer more intensely, I decided to read the prayers of Paul to inquire the ways that he had prayed. Through this process, I noticed some reoccurring themes in Paul’s prayers which convicted me of the areas in my own prayer life that I had been neglecting. Dissecting Ephesians 1:15-22 will suffice in understanding these themes. I will break this prayer into three sections: 1. Introduction (vv. 15-16); 2. Prayer for Spiritual Understanding and Strength (vv. 17-19); 3. Words of Praise (vv. 20-23).
Verses 15 and 16 starts off with Paul noting that he does not cease to pray for those in Ephesus. The first question that I need to ask of myself is, do I live a life of continuous prayer for those I love and care about? It is easy to offer up a prayer for someone, then check that request off the list and move on, yet persistence in prayer is something that Jesus teaches us is important (Luke 18:1-8). Like Paul, I want to pray without ceasing for those within my life.
Verses 17-19 reveals that Paul understood that there is a spiritual reality that we as followers of Jesus must engage in. We often recognize that wisdom and knowledge are things to obtain through age and scholarly pursuits, and while that is true, we then neglect to remember that is through the Holy Spirit that we are gifted true spiritual wisdom and knowledge (v. 17). Similarly, we must ask for God to enlighten the eyes of our hearts, as this is not something that we can do through mere human volition, but again through the work of God’s Spirit (v. 18). As the eyes of our hearts are enlightened, it is only then that we can see the hope and inheritance that God has called and promised to us (v. 18). It is often that I forget the hope that I have in Christ, and this prayer helps me to re-open my heart to understanding this beautiful reality. Paul then details that through the Holy Spirit, God’s people receive “the immeasurable greatness of his power,” (v. 19) which is emphasized in the following verses, but before looking at that, I want us to reflect on how truly incredible it is that we have God’s presence residing in us. Take a moment to read 2 Chronicles 7:1-3, and then reflect at how radical it is that God’s intense presence, that was made known in holy fire from heaven, is currently residing inside of you, and furthermore, that power from his presence is made available to us through the gifting of God’s Spirit. This is crucial because do we ever think to pray for people to be experience this power that only is provided by the Holy Spirit (see Eph 3:14-16)? I must say that I have rarely heard this type of language in people’s prayers throughout most of my life. Paul prayed for this and we must follow his example.
In verses 20-23, Paul explains how the power that is gifted to us is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead, seated him in heaven, and gave him authority over everything including the Church (vv. 20-23). It should also be noted that it appears that Paul has now moved into a posture of praise as he details God’s working of power in Jesus. Likewise, I want to live a life that is postured in praising God as I too reflect on all that he has done through Jesus for his people.
I will summarize this devotional in three points:
1. We must pray without ceasing for those around us.
2. We must ask for God to gift us his Spirit to understand the hope we have in Jesus and the spiritual power that is granted to us.
3. Lastly, our praise must result into praise to God for all that he has done and will continue to do for his people.
Brett Carey (Worship Pastor)