Yesterday I was unable to put together a devotional. It got a bit hectic and I could not get focused enough to put the post together, but I could not stop thinking about Ephesians and the two prayers Paul prayed in the first 3 chapters of Ephesians. The first was a prayer of thanksgiving and the second was for spiritual strength. Both were prayed with very specific purpose.
The first was a prayer of thanksgiving and the second was for spiritual strength. But ultimately both were prayers of purpose focused on the needs of the church. I read these prayers and I cannot help but think how important it is for me to pray like prayers like this for my church family, and for the ones that I have not met yet.
As I was thinking about theses prayers and writing out my thoughts I remembered when we were building the new worship center and we were putting the chairs in the sanctuary for the first time and we all prayed that these chairs were for people that we had not yet met and God would fill them. And he did, and we continue to grow, so this first prayer is for my church family and those that I have yet to meet.
Ephesians 3:14-21 Prayer for Spiritual Strength
I meditated on these two prayers. This morning my first focus was on the prayer in chapter 3.
Ephesians 3:14-21 (ESV) Prayer for Spiritual Strength
14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.*
20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
I looked at this prayer and then considered the prayer he prayed in chapter one and in both he knew that we could not do this on our own. We needed the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit to stand. I went back to the first prayer and reread it.
Ephesians 1:15-23 Thanksgiving and Prayer
When I began with it I was the same appeal to God on our behalf. But first, it was for wisdom and knowledge of God.
Ephesians 1:15-23 (ESV) Thanksgiving and Prayer
15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 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, 18 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, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 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.* 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
Paul prayed for the indwelling Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him. As I read that this morning I see a specific order to the prayers and even to the things that Paul reveals to the people of Ephesus.
As I reread these three chapters again this morning and meditated on them the order became clear. In Chapter 1:3-14 Paul reminds us of the gift we have received in Christ Jesus. He reminds of all that He did for us and the purpose was to unite us with him. Then in verses 15-23 he offers a prayer of thanksgiving.
In this prayer Paul asks for the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that we as believers may be able to see and understand what God has done and will do for us, and that prayer was not only for Ephesians but believers that were to come, and the prayer was to prepare their hearts for the message of chapter 2.
In Chapter 2 he spoke of the wonder of faith through grace and being one in Christ. Without the Holy spirit, how would we understand such things as these and in the beginning of chapter 3 he reveals the mystery of the Gospel; that it is intended for all people.
After these things Paul comes to the prayer for Spiritual strength. It is as if the strength is a compliment to the wisdom and revelation. This strength also comes from the Holy Spirit. Our own strength is not sufficient.
That strength he speaks of in that prayer is not directly for battle, but it does provide God’s armor through understanding. I love this passage.
Ephesians 3:17-19 (ESV)
so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
So first we need wisdom and revelation, then strength to comprehend all that we would learn through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as He guides us through God’s Word and the world around us.
When I consider the order that God revealed these things to us through Paul I get goose bumps. Just thinking about it I am blown away. As I look ahead in Ephesians these things had to come first to prepare me for the instruction in the coming chapters.
As I consider the prayers alone I am reminded of how important it is to prepare myself for study by praying for these things that Paul prayed for me. These are not my only prayers, but they should be part of what prepares me to study God’s Word.
Every day I am more and more amazed at the precision of God’s Word. The order with which He placed each word and paragraph. What an awesome God He is.
Heavenly Father help me always to prepare my mind before study and rely on the wisdom and strength of the Holy Spirit in me for every thought I consider and every step I take.
Help me Lord always keep me focused on your way and when I fall short please remind me so that I may come to you in repentance that nothing may hinder my relationship with you.
I pray all this Lord in the name of your blessed Son Jesus Christ! Amen!