Explore the Bible
with Cyndi Grace
Sunday, September 8
This week I lost a family member with whom I was rather close. I put it on Facebook which is something I usually wouldn’t do, but I found myself needing assurance that everything was going to be okay. I received an enormous number of comments which read: “Praying.” Somehow knowing others thought about me even for a nano-second gave me comfort. We all need prayer for those special times in our lives when grief raises its ugly head or sickness takes away our joy, but we also need prayer for the daily living of life. Paul knew of the struggles of the people in Ephesus and he knew the one thing they needed more than anything was prayer — but not a typical prayer for safety or help in times of trouble. They needed a prayer that could carry them through any situation.
We find this rich prayer in verses17-19 of the first chapter of Ephesians. Space does not allow us to cover the meaning completely so I will briefly focus on three points. Paul prayed they would have a knowledge of God, a hope of His calling, and assurance of His power.
Many of these believers had been delivered from pagan worship or occultism. They had grown up with a very different understanding of worship, so Paul prayed they would have a developing knowledge of who was this God. We have a God whose desire is to show Himself but seeing Him requires an opened heart. Paul expressed his personal need to know Christ in Philippians 3:10, “I want to know Christ — yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (NIV 1984). This word “know” is an active verb meaning to perceive or understand more fully. Paul had more than a head knowledge of Christ. He knew the glorious revelation of Him and so this was his prayer for the Ephesians — and should be our prayer for ourselves and our fellow believers.
Paul also understood he could never fully explain Jesus and His death no matter how hard he tried, so he prayed the Holy Spirit would give this revelation. Our feeble words and testimony provide only a second-hand view of God’s goodness and power. We need to pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal Christ to unbelievers. Unlike us, the Holy Spirit can reach deeply into the places of a believer’s heart to reveal Himself. We also must ask ourselves if we truly seek to know more about Him, or are we satisfied with a little? We often fret over situations because we have settled for ritual instead of relationship. There is victory in truly knowing Christ.
Paul then prayed for the “eyes of their hearts be enlightened.” He prayed the Ephesians’ desires would change and they would begin to understand following Christ was the best decision they could have ever made. The pagan world surrounding them was going to scoff at their beliefs. Unless they truly knew and understood what they had given was valuable, they would certainly fall prey. Paul prayed they would understand the hope of their calling and all it entailed. It was worth clinging to when things became hard. They didn’t have to guess about this hope but they could be assured of His calling. We face that today. On every front our beliefs and faith are attacked. Unless our true desire is for the riches of knowing Christ, we could fall.
Finally, Paul prayed that by following Him they would receive His power with immeasurable greatness through the Holy Spirit (v. 19).
It seemed the prayer ended in verse 19 but wait — there’s more. We read: “He exercised this power in Christ by raising Him from the dead and seating Him at His right hand in the heavens.” What power? Paul was referring to verse 19: the immeasurable power which was given to those who believe. Do not miss this. The power we have as a Christian is the same power that raised Christ from the dead, and is the same power that subjected everything under His feet. Oh, let that sink in. When we are adopted into the family, part of our inheritance is power over the evil one. We will see this theme throughout the book of Ephesians because our fight is not against others but against God’s enemy — Satan.
Yes, pray for hurting people, but always include a prayer for knowledge, hope, and power.
Grace is a conference speaker, author, and member of First Church, Clinton.