What Paul Prayed: Thanks Again

“For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.” (Ephesians 1:15-16)

How should you pray for your friends, your parents, your siblings, anyone you really care about? This week, Paul will show us some essential things to pray for other Christians – and for ourselves – by telling us exactly what he prayed for his friends in a town called Ephesus.

stones_350Notice first that he is praying for believers – people who have trusted Jesus and who love other Christians. These prayers are not intended – and would not make sense, mostly – for unbelievers. For them, the most earnest prayer should always be that they would come into the family of God through faith in Jesus.

But the first thing Paul says to God about these brothers and sisters in Jesus is “thank you.” Then he says it again. Then he says it again. In fact, he says he never stops saying it. To give thanks for others, to remember them to God, is a way of admitting that when God created and saved them, he did a good thing. Their lives matter because they matter to him. Also, of course, we thank God because they matter to us.

Think: How often do you thank God for the Christians in your life? Your parents? Your friends? Why don’t we think to do that more often?

Pray: Ask God to help you to be grateful for other believers and to express that thankfulness to him.

Do: Make a list of five Christians in your life you can pray for this week using Paul’s words in Ephesians. Include at least one person you don’t always get along with. Add yourself to the list at #6. Start today by thanking God for everyone on the list.

What Paul Prayed: Know God Better

“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.” (Ephesians 1:17)

What’s the very first thing Paul reveals to his friends that he prays for them? What’s the first thing that comes to his mind to ask God to give them? His repeated prayer is that they will know God better.

stones_350We’ve already been told that these Christians have faith in Jesus. They have a reputation for loving “all the saints” (other Christians). Paul’s readers were living solid Christian lives at a time where that cost something. Obviously, they already know God.

Paul wants them to know him better. His prayer is that they won’t get satisfied, that they won’t reach a plateau in their relationship with God where they think they know enough about their Creator and just coast through the rest of their days and into heaven. He wants God to take them – and us – to a deeper level of understanding -im.

Think: How much do you desire to know God better? How could you grow your appetite for knowledge of God?

Pray: Ask God to make you hungrier and hungrier for knowledge of him. Thank him for revealing himself to you in the Bible and for giving you the opportunity to grow in wisdom about him.

Do: Pray this verse for the 6 people on your list from yesterday. (Scroll down to the Monday devo if you missed it.)

What Paul Prayed: Spiritual Laser Surgery

“I pray also 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 the saints. . . .” (Ephesians 1:18)

Sometimes Christians don’t see so good. Peter wrote that Christians who have stopped growing spiritually – growing in our ability to live like God is real and really loves us – those people are “nearsighted and blind.” They can’t seem to see past today. They make all their choices based on what they hope will happen now, this week, right away.

stones_350The next thing Paul prays for his Christian friends in Ephesians is for some spiritual vision correction, some laser surgery for the “eyes of your heart.” Why? Remember last week’s heaven study? We all have trouble “seeing” that heaven is a real zip code and placing all of our hope in that life. We can only focus on today; we want this to be heaven. It never will be.

We need God’s help to know God’s hope for us – being home in heaven with him and all the endless wealth of his kingdom. God doesn’t want his princes and princesses (us) to be satisfied with life in a backwoods village. Set your sight on the castle, and don’t settle for anything less.

Think: How’s your spiritual vision for the hope of heaven? Can you “see” it well enough to live for it every day?

Pray: Ask God to make your hungry for heaven. Yes, again.

Do: Pray Paul’s words from this verse for the six people on your list, mentioning each by name. (See Monday’s “Do” section for details.)

What Paul Prayed: Plugged In

“I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know . . . his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms. . . .” (Ephesians 1:18-20)

Powerless. We’ve all felt it, that sense that when we push on the gas pedal of our own lives, nothing happens. “I know the right thing to do; I just can’t do it.” “I’m not strong enough to forgive that person.” “I’m not smart enough, motivated enough, like Jesus enough to trade my desires for his.” We can convince ourselves that being serious about following Jesus is for people who are built for that kind of thing – people more naturally spiritual that we are.

stones_350Stupid, ugly lies. Paul asked God to correct his Ephesian friends’ vision in two areas – to be able to know the hope of heaven and to be able to know the enormous power available to them straight from God.

What an insult to God’s power when we refuse to believe he can make us able to do what he has asked us to do. His “mighty strength” made Jesus alive again! His power lifted Jesus off the earth and out of time and right back into his reserved seat in heaven. What is it that he can’t do through us?

Think: Can we really live in God’s power even when we feel powerless? Is it a choice we make or just something God does in us?

Pray: Ask God for the courage to believe that you really can do all things through his power.

Do: Pray today’s passage for the 6 people on your life. (See the “Do” section of Monday’s devo for details.)

What Paul Prayed: Knee Power

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” (Ephesians 3:15-17)

For the weekend, we jump to chapter 3 for another of Paul’s prayers for the Ephesians. First he gives us a glimpse of how he prays – on his knees. It’s amazing what actually getting on your knees does for your mind when you’re praying. You’re less likely to fall asleep than when you’re laying down, and you’re less likely to let your mind wander than when you “pray on the run.” Paul took his prayers for his friends seriously enough to make these requests on his knees.

stones_350Next, notice whom Paul prays to – the Father. And it wasn’t just the ritual greeting we sometimes use: “Dear Heavenly Father.” Paul knew that in praying, he was taking his best hopes for his friends not just “to the top,” but to the ultimate patriarch, the head of the family, the great and loving Father of us all.

So what did he ask? He wanted his friends to have God’s huge power to keep Christ living in their hearts through faith. Note he’s not asking God to keep them from losing their salvation. He’s asking that they’ll have the supernatural ability to always keep Jesus as the center of their lives.

Think: Why do you think we need so much help from God to keep our focus on our Savior?

Pray: Ask God to help you take prayer seriously enough to really talk to the Father with reverence and focus.

Do: Pray this verse for the 6 people on your list. (See Monday’s “Do” section for details.)

What Paul Prayed: Give Me Power

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” (Ephesians 3:17-18)

Another day, another power prayer. Have you noticed how all of Paul’s prayers for his Christians friends in Ephesus come back to the issue of power? He wants them to have supernatural sight to see the power they have from God. He wants them to have the power to keep Jesus in the center of their lives. And now he asks God to give them the power to somehow, some way understand Jesus’ giant love for them.

stones_350Most people don’t think of following Jesus as an experience that involves and requires great power. Christians are supposed to turn the other cheek, right? To forgive as forgiven? To honor others above themselves as Jesus did? Isn’t Christianity all about giving up power?

No. Read that paragraph again. Following Jesus is all about giving up self – and that takes enormous power. Giving up self requires us to believe that we are loved by a Savior good enough and strong enough to provide everything we need while we’re not focused on ourselves. To understand and receive a high, long, deep, wide love like that takes off-the-charts power.

Think: Do you think of faithful Christians as powerful people? Why or why not?

Pray: Thank God for rooting and grounding you in love. Thank him for the endless love of Jesus.

Do: Pray today’s passage for each of the 6 people on your list. (See Monday’s “Do” section for details.)

What Paul Prayed: Know Love?

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. ” (Ephesians 3:17-19)

I wanted to be a dad for several years before I actually got there. During that time, I paid attention to how other guys described the experience of being a father. I noticed how that relationship was pictured in movies and books. I had a certain knowledge of what it was like to be a dad. I could imagine it.

stones_350But when I held my son for the first time on the night he was born, I felt something completely unexpected. I’m not usually an emotional guy, but I was overwhelmed by powerful feelings of connection, protection, and love for 7 pounds of crying baby wrapped in a blanket. Honestly, it was weird and wonderful.

Paul prayed that the Ephesians would have the power to “know this love that surpasses knowledge.” He wanted them to move past knowing about God’s love to experiencing it in their souls. To be rocked by that weird, wonderful love connection with our Father God is the key to filling our whole lives up with him. It’s a knowing beyond words that leads to satisfaction with him.

Think: Do you feel like you “grasp” Christ’s love for you, that you have experienced his overwhelming love in a way words can’t quite describe? If not, why do you think that is? Have you ever prayed this passage for yourself?

Pray: Thank God for his enormous love for you in Jesus – and that his love doesn’t change even on the days you can’t “feel” it.

Do: Pray this final passage for the 6 people on your list. (See the “Do” section for last Monday’s devo for details.)