Week of Dec. 6

Putting Power in Our Prayers

Read: Ephesians 1-4

“. . .I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him . . .”
Ephesians 1:16-17, ESV


Pastor Jack Wellman writes, “The Bible mentions prayer a lot, but prayer is much more than simply repeating words or wishful thinking. Prayer is talking and listening to God. Prayer, like a conversation, can be done at any time, anywhere – because God is always with us and is always listening.” It has been said that the entire letter of Ephesians was written with an attitude of prayer! We have before us today a wonderful example of a prayer that we may find in Ephesians 1:15-23. Paul has given to us a template of how we may appeal to God on behalf of others in the community of faith. Let’s learn and apply the truth that God has for our hearts today.

A Biblical Lens

We all will do well to take a moment for a quick review on Ephesians. Paul penned the letter while he was in prison (cf. 3:1; 4:1; 6:20). Some scholars believe that he was imprisoned either in Caesarea (Acts 24:22) around 57-59 A.D. or in Rome (Acts 28:30) about 60-62 A.D. Tradition holds that he wrote the letter along with Colossians, Philemon, and Philippians while in Rome. The apostle decided to write the letters to respond to new religious philosophies that were impacting the area.

A key purpose in writing was to teach that Jewish and Gentile believers are one in Christ which was to be evident in their love for each other (1:4-6; 6:23-24). David Dockery writes, “Central to the message of Ephesians is the re-creation of the human family according to God’s original intention for it. The new creation destroys the misguided view that God accepts the Jew and rejects the Gentile” (HCBC). Got it? Good!

We have before us a prayer that was written in one long sentence (1:15-23). The entire prayer falls beneath the main verbal idea, “I do not stop giving thanks” (1:16). He offered four requests: “to know and experience God, to know the hope of his calling, to know of his glorious inheritance, and to know of his great power” (HCBC; cf. HNTC).

Make our prayers personal and continual: Sometimes we may find it difficult to know how to pray effectively for those we love deeply in the church. Paul uses an expression that means he always is giving thanks to God for them. I also find it deeply meaningful that Paul likely used the names of those for whom he was praying when he prayed. I certainly blanket entire churches in prayer, but there are also specific names that I mention to God when I pray (1:16, “remembering you”) [EBC; Handbook].

Request that God grants insight into his word and will: We may begin by calling on God to give our fellow believers the “Spirit of wisdom and of revelation” so that they may know God better. Wisdom involves the practical ability to act on what we believe, and revelation involved God making it possible for Christians to experience him and his truth (HNTC; Handbook). Overall, we should pray for our fellow believers in Christ to be able to understand the Bible and to apply its truth to daily living (1:16-17)!

Ask God to grant others a deep awareness of the Lord: We always do well when pray that our brothers and sisters in Christ are fully endowed with the Spirit so that they may know God better. There are three ways that Paul asks for this to take place. First, we are wanting others to know fully the full hope that God has made available to them when he called them to salvation (1:18). Simply pray that God will open the hearts of others to understand God’s will. Secondly, he asks God to help these loved ones to appreciate the full wealth that they have inherited from the Father (18b). This includes awareness of the significance of salvation and reconciliation. God calls people and this produces hope in them. They find that the barrier between them and God has been removed and the same has happened in respect to others (2:12). Thirdly, we may pray that believers will see the enormous power of God. This expression of his might was evident in raising Jesus from the dead and the giving of new life to us in Christ (EBC). Indeed, that same power may be released on the church to enable it to fulfill God’s purposes even in overwhelming circumstances.

A Moral Pathway

Both of our adult children and their spouses are extraordinarily giving. They enjoy benefiting others with blessings both large and small. Each one spends a considerable amount of time pondering the meaning of the gift and how it may be a blessing to the person who will receive it.

Now, they do have their own unique personalities, so the manner in which they give is somewhat different. The oldest child enjoys wrapping gifts in multiple layers with a seemingly endless amount of tape that requires a person to spend several minutes attempting to see what has been given! The entire process can be exhausting, but the end result is always well worth it. The younger child, by way of contrast, cannot wait to give a gift, so it is often handed to the recipient unwrapped and is given well in advance of birthdays or Christmas!

The point is not the style of the giver but the intent and the gift! Listen. I am encouraging you today to simply give of yourself totally to the prayers you offer on behalf of other believers. You will be blessed to see God throw open the gates of heaven in response. The church has a willing Father, but sadly it does not avail itself of the best he stands ready to offer.

For Your Journaling

1. Take time to focus your prayers for those you know that are unsaved, now that we have been shown a wonderful way to pray for others. Call on God regularly and ask him to bring them to salvation.

2. The church will benefit from this type of prayer. The power that raised Christ will enable your church to find healing in this deeply divisive time. It will provide strength and direction when your church feels weak and ineffective. So, devote yourselves to specific prayer needs in your church.

May all your paths be straight,
Larry C. Ashlock