It’s another snowy cold day in our little town so Ruth and I hauled out a DVD on Ephesians by Charles Price of the People’s Church in Toronto. Every talk I have ever heard Pastor Price give has been a blessing, and this study on Ephesians is no exception. It is part four of a twenty-six part series that he presented to his church and each study is rich in Biblical truth and encouragement. You can’t go wrong to get a hold of this series and study along with the DVD.
This presentation by Pastor Price was taken from chapter one, verses 15 through 23, which focuses on Paul’s first prayer for the Ephesians. Earlier in the book Paul told the Ephesians that they were blessed, “in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 1:3b What an amazing thought for a Christian. When we accept Jesus we are not blessed with a few spiritual blessings or an occasional blessing, but with every blessing in all the heavenly places. In other words, in the entire universe there is no spiritual blessing that is not ours through the blessings of being “In Christ.”
Paul goes on to tell the Ephesians what some of those blessings are in his prayer for them starting in verse 16. There are four areas of the Christian life that Paul refers to and gives insight into in this prayer. He tells us, “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him.” Ephesians 1:17 So, the first part of Paul’s prayer is that a Christian may have the wisdom and revelation to know God. (see 2 Peter 1:3; John 17:3) One of the great spiritual blessings that we receive is to know God. God reveals Himself to us through nature and experience, but utmost through revelation. God has given us a love letter to reveal Himself to us.
When we read, study and ponder the words of the Bible we are uncovering, through the influence and power of the Holy Spirit, the knowledge of God. It is on the pages of the Bible that we discover the reality of our sin, God’s plan to rescue us from those sins and save us through all eternity. When we read the Bible we find the cross and all the ramifications of Jesus death upon it and His resurrection on the third day. Many people believe if you love God you will read and study your Bible, but it is also just as true that if you study and read your Bible you will discover the God of the Bible, and that will change your life.
Paul also prayed that the Ephesians would have, “the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which He has called you.” Ephesians 1:18 The idea of Biblical hope is not wishful thinking, but the assurance of what God has promised in the future. Let me give you an example of what I mean. If I said that I hope to go to the hockey game tonight at the arena and I had a ticket purchased then what I am saying is that I am planning to go to the game tonight and unless something unforeseen happens I will be there. This is the use Paul gives to the word in this verse. The difference between my illustration and Paul’s use of the word is that there are no unforeseen circumstances that would deny us our promised future. Paul writes, “In Him you also who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation and have believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, which is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of His glory.” Ephesians 1:13, 14 Only you can separate yourself from God by rejecting His love and turning your back on Him, because God will never turn away from you. Your hope of eternal life is assured and guaranteed by the coming of the Holy Spirit into your life and He guarantees your inheritance in Christ.
He also prays that the Ephesians would dwell upon, “the immeasurable greatness of His power in us who believe, according to the working of His great might.” Ephesians 1:19 Think about this for a moment. Paul is praying that the Ephesians might not forget that they have the greatness of God’s power in them. There is not just a little power in us, but all the power that is sufficient for our life. John Stott asks, “how shall we come to know the surpassing greatness of the power of God? Because He has given a public demonstration of it in the resurrection and exaltation of Christ “. (v. 20-23) The Message of Ephesians, Stott, pg. 58
Paul also prays that we accept, “the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints.” Ephesians 1:19 It is in this passage that Price gave me food for thought. I have always understood this passage to mean that we receive an inheritance by being in Christ, but Price points out that the passage could also mean that God has an inheritance in us. He understands the passage to mean that God is filled with joy and gladness whenever someone accepts the gospel. In fact God is glorious over the event because it not only means another person saved for all eternity, but another person who God can work through to present the gospel to a lost world. Through our heart God can show His love, through our lips He can speak the gospel, through our feet He can carry the gospel to the lost and through our hands He can touch the broken and bring healing to the discouraged. Our role as Christians is to ask God everyday, “how would you use your inheritance today?”
Paul’s prayer is for the Ephesians to better understand what it means to have every spiritual blessing and to let those blessings change and mold their lives. How different from many of our prayers that are no more than an extensive list of things we want from God. Instead, Paul is presenting to us the God who transforms and remakes us into disciples. Paul’s prayer for us is to allow God to do His work in us and stay connected to God never doubting or rejecting His promises. He wants us to know God and trust Him, to have confidence in the hope for our future, to be willing to allow God to work through us as His inheritance, and connect to the power of God that flows through us through the Holy Spirit. Remember, we don’t need more of the Holy Spirit, but we need to allow the Holy Spirit to have more of us.
I know I am going to seek to put these four aspects of Paul’s prayer into my prayer life and I pray that you will also. I am not saying that you shouldn’t pray for needs, healing, etc., but we need to make our prayers about more than just those needs. Pray to know God better, have more faith, to be used by God and to unleash the power of the Holy Spirit that dwells within you.