Spurgeon once told a group of pastors, “When a man is upstairs in bed, and cannot do any hurt, you pray for him. When he is downstairs, and can do no end of mischief, you do not pray for him.”
Neglected prayer is far too common among the people of God. I don’t know about you, but I’m good at pushing prayer aside. I whisper a prayer for those who are sick. I pray for those in pain. But if God’s people appear to be doing well, I rarely pray for them. And I hardly ever pray like Paul does in Ephesians 1:15-23.
Let me show you.
“For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all” (ESV).
If you’ve been with me for the past few weeks, you know what Paul writes in verses 3-14. He explains who the family of God is. Those who belong to the family of God are chosen by God in Christ (vv. 3-6), redeemed by God in Christ (vv. 7-10), and kept by God in Christ (vv. 11-14).
Now, Paul begins to intercede on their behalf. He prays for his brothers and sisters in Christ to experience the fullness of what he has just explained to them. And the essence of Paul’s prayer can be found in verse 17, when he writes, “… 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” (ESV).
So, Paul prays for the Ephesian believers to know God.
Now, it might seem strange that Paul prays for Christians to know God. After all, we’re accustomed to praying for non-Christians to know God. But when Paul talks about “knowledge” in verse 17, he’s referring to an intimate, relational knowledge.
There’s a difference between knowing about God and knowing God. And when it comes to God, there’s always more to know. Paul prays for these believers to know God more fully.
Paul first prays for their hope (v. 18). And this hope is the result of being chosen, redeemed, and kept by God. As God’s possession, the family of God rests assured in the power of God. And this power is now at work in the lives of God’s people (v. 19).
And what is that power? Well, that’s where verses 20-23 come into play. Paul reminds the Ephesian believers of Christ’s resurrection and exultation. Then, he ends his prayer by emphasizing the headship of Christ over all things, including the church. And as the family of God, we are His church. We are His body.
As we consider Paul’s prayer, I hope we consider the importance of praying for our brothers and sisters in Christ.
We’re quick to pray for those who are sick. We’re quick to pray for those who are suffering. And rightly so. But as the family of God, we’re called to pray for each other in the area of Christian growth. In other words, we should be praying for our brothers and sisters to behold the beauty of Christ more and more each day.
As Paul says elsewhere, “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6 ESV).
Let’s behold Christ and know God. And let’s pray for our brothers and sisters to do the same.