By Christina Fox
What are the top three prayers on your prayer list right now? Perhaps there’s a prayer for God’s provision or one for a loved one’s healing. Maybe there’s a prayer for a friend’s salvation or for someone whose marriage is struggling.
When it comes to my own prayers, most of them center on the things I want God to do for me. I tend to ask God to make my life easier and to take away all my problems. I also pray for friends and family, that God would provide for them and help them through their own struggles and trials. These kinds of prayers aren’t wrong because God wants us to cry out for his help. Though prayer is certainly not less than this, it can also be so much more.
The Apostle Paul shared some of his prayer list in his letters to the various churches he ministered to. This passage in Ephesians is one such prayer. It is a prayer that shows Paul’s deep love and concern for the spiritual growth and well-being of the Ephesian church. It is also a prayer that we can learn much from, particularly for our own prayer lives.
“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. 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, and his incomparably great power for us who believe” (v. 17-19).
Paul’s prayer here raises the bar for what prayer can look like. He shows us that we can go deeper. There are places we can go in prayer that we’ve never imagined. These places draw us closer to knowing God, his goodness, his power, and his promises for us.
In verse 17, Paul prays that the Ephesians would know God better. This is a prayer that God delights to answer. This prayer draws us into deeper levels of intimacy and knowledge of who God is and what he has done for us. The more we know of God, the more we trust and believe him.
The second thing this passage tells us we can pray for is to know the riches of God’s glorious inheritance (v. 18). What is our inheritance? It is the promise of salvation and eternity with God. This inheritance comes to us through our new birth in Christ. Paul tells us elsewhere that as God’s adopted children, we are co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:16). Peter tells us that this inheritance is one that can never perish, “He has given us new birth into a living inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:4). This kind of prayer seeks to know and better understand our salvation and what God has done for us through Christ.
Lastly, we can pray to know God’s power (v.19). It was this power that raised Jesus from the grave and placed him at his right hand, “far above all rule and authority, power and dominion” (v. 20). This same resurrection power also has given us new life, raising our dry bones from the grave, giving us new hearts that love God, and breathing in us the breath of life. Paul tells us that Christ has been placed as head of the church, which is his body (v.22-23). In this prayer, Paul wants the Ephesians and us to know God’s resurrection power, the power that saves, sanctifies, and sustains us. And when we know this power, it moves us to deeper trust, awe, and wonder.
In these few verses, Paul shows us that our prayers can be more than just a list of needs. While we can never plumb the depths of God’s love and grace for us, we need to pray that God would help us understand more and more about who he is and what he has done.
Christina Fox (@toshowthemjesus) has her Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology and is licensed in mental health counseling. She is a writer, blogger, and regular contributor to ministry publications and websites such as Desiring God and The Gospel Coalition. She spends her days homeschooling her two boys and in her free time enjoys reading, writing, and antiquing. Christina and her husband of seventeen years reside in sunny South Florida. You can find her sharing her faith journey at www.toshowthemjesus.com and on Facebook atwww.Facebook.com/ToShowThemJesus.