THE EPHESIAN PRAYER
Ephesians 1:17-23 & 3:14-21 are powerful statements of Faith and Hope in Jesus Christ.
When personalized, it becomes a beautiful prayer.
Here is an example of the personalized prayer; feel free to pray this version, or put it in your own words.
I pray to you God of my Lord Jesus Christ, Father of glory, that You would grant me a spirit of wisdom and revelation of insight into the mysteries and secrets and deep and intimate knowledge of You. By having the eyes of my heart flooded with light so that I can know and understand the hope to which You have called me and how rich Your glorious inheritance is in the saints, Your set apart ones. I ask to know and understand what is the immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of Your power in and for me as I believe, as is demonstrated in the working of Your mighty strength, which you exerted in Christ when You raised Him from the dead and seated Him at Your own right hand in the heavenly places far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named, above every title that can be conferred, not only in this age and in this world, but also in the age and the world which are to come. And You have put all things under His feet and have appointed Him the universal and supreme Head of the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all, for in that body lives the full measure of You who makes everything complete, and Who fills everything everywhere with Yourself.
For this reason seeing the greatness of this plan by which I am built together in Christ I bow my knees before You, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ for Whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, You Father from Whom all fatherhood takes its title and derives its name. May You grant me, out of the rich treasury of Your glory to be strengthened and reinforced with mighty power in my inner man by the Holy Spirit Himself indwelling my innermost being and personality. May Christ through my faith actually dwell, settle down, abide, and make His permanent home in my heart! May I be rooted deeply in and founded securely upon love so that I may have the power and be strong to apprehend and grasp with all the saints, Your devoted people, the experience, the breadth, the length and the height of that love. That I may really come to know and experience for myself the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge without experience; that I may be filled through all my being into the fullness of You. May I have the richest measure of Your divine Presence and become a body wholly filled and flooded with You dear Heavenly Father.
Now to You Who by the action of the power that is at work within me are able to carry out Your purpose and to do superabundantly far over and above all that I dare ask or think and infinitely beyond my highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes or dreams—to You be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Father God I thank You for granting my request. I trust that I have it because I my confidence is in You and I asked according to Your will in the Name of Jesus Christ, I believe the eyes of my heart are flooded with light. Amen
This is the third lesson for an online Bible study through the book of Ephesians. The entire lesson is posted below. You can read it here and answer the questions in a journal or you can download the PDF or Word Doc and print a hard copy. Either way, I would love for all of you to interact with me and each other in the comments section of this blog page. Post insights, ask questions, and discuss the lesson. Let’s get started!
I love technology. I have a laptop, an iPad, an iPhone, and a Kindle. There is no end to the wonders I can perform with these four marvelous tools. With my iPhone alone I can remotely turn on my porch lights, record my favorite television show, and never again lose my car in a parking garage.
The power to do all that and more is in the palm of my hand. Just one problem: My knowledge of how to do it is limited. I can do a lot with these tools – in fact, I’ve even taught others who know less than me. But I still have much to learn before I will be using these devices at their full potential.
The Christian life is similar. Last week we learned that God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ. As Peter put it, we have everything we need for life and godliness. All this is available to us through the presence of the Holy Spirit. But have we learned how to stand on, rest in, and apply these blessings to our lives?
In the passage we studied last week (1:1-14), Paul beautifully elaborated on the spiritual blessings we have in Christ. Then, beginning in verse 15, Paul shifts from praising God for what He has done into thanking God for his readers and interceding with the Father on their behalf.
Read Ephesians 1:15-23.
When Paul wrote this letter, it had been at least five years since he had seen the believers in Ephesus, but he had heard wonderful reports about their faith. Their continued growth encouraged him and fostered thanksgiving. In turn, Paul encouraged them with his letter and prayers for them. Paul’s relationship with the believers in Ephesus demonstrates that God designed our faith to be relational. He never meant for us to be lone Christians! We see this truth all throughout Scripture and will look at it more closely later in this study.
These believers had “every spiritual blessing” and strong faith in Christ, yet Paul still prayed for them. Why? Although the full power of the Holy Spirit resided within them, they had not accessed everything God had already made available. They still had some growing and learning to do. It sounds just like me! How about you?
Look back at verses 15-23. Make a list of the specific things Paul prayed for the believers in Ephesus. Focus on verses 17-19.
One thing that helped me see the heart of Paul’s requests for the Ephesians was to temporarily take away the descriptive words and phrases. Here’s what I ended up with:
I pray God will give you insight and discernment so you will grow in your knowledge of Him. I pray God will help you understand: 1) the hope to which He has called you; 2) the riches of your eternal inheritance; and 3) the resurrection power that is available to believers.
Before we take a brief look at each of these, let’s recall how this “insight, discernment, and understanding” is possible. To do that, we’ll take a quick detour to two of Paul’s other letters.
Read Romans 8:9-10. Who lives within every believer?
Read 1 Corinthians 2:9-16. How are believers able to understand spiritual things? How is it possible for believers to grow in their personal knowledge of God?
Growing in Knowledge and Understanding
Now that we’ve confirmed that God is able to answer these prayers through the presence of the Holy Spirit, let’s get back to Paul’s requests. First, Paul prayed that the Ephesian believers would grow in their knowledge of God. The Greek word translated as “know” in the NIV and “knowledge” in the ESV is epignosis. It refers to the “fullness of knowledge acquired through personal acquaintance.”
What’s the difference between knowing about someone and knowing them personally?
What are some things you are purposefully doing to get to know God better? Is there something else you could be doing to experience God, His character, and His ways?
Next, Paul prayed that the Ephesians would grow in their understanding of three specific things. He asked God to help them understand the present benefits of their salvation in Christ, their future inheritance as children of God, and the power that made both possible.
The Greek word translated as “calling” or “called” in verse 18 is “used especially of God’s invitation to man to accept the benefits of salvation” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words). Paul uses the same word in Ephesians 4:1 to refer to our current earthly life. Our relationship with God gives hope for this life, not just the next.
In what ways have you experienced God’s blessings in this life? How does your relationship with God give you hope for today?
Read Titus 3:7, Matthew 25:34, and Galatians 3:26-4:7. Compare these passages to Ephesians 1:5 and 18. These passages help us understand the nature of our “future inheritance.” Check all of the following statements that accurately reflect the teaching of these passages.
___Those God saves become His child and Jesus’ sibling and co-heir.
___God’s heirs will inherit eternal life.
___God’s heirs will share in His Kingdom.
___Each of God’s heirs are on equal standing with all God’s children.
___God’s heirs are Abraham’s seed, children of promise.
___God’s heirs also receive the Spirit of His Son.
Are you reeling yet from the enormity of all God’s promises? If you’re still on your feet – or in your chair – the impact of this next truth should take care of that.
Reread Ephesians 1:19-20. What miracle does Paul say was accomplished by the same power that is working inside believers?
Did you tremble when you answered that question? The exact same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead and gave Him authority over all things is the exact same power that is available to believers today!
Believer, what area of your life needs to experience this power today? Are you facing an overwhelming challenge? Does some stronghold have a stranglehold on you? Has God called you to a task, ministry, or area of service for which you feel inadequate? If so, write that below.
Considering the “incomparably great power for us who believe,” how can God work in the area of your life you wrote above?
As Paul ended his prayer in chapter one, he reflected on the power and position of Christ. We serve a Savior who has both the power and authority to rule and reign!
Reread Ephesians 1:20-23. Rewrite these glorious truths about Jesus in your own words.
Here’s two ways we can interact with each other this week:
- Respond to any of today’s questions in the comment section of this post. Share insights, ask questions, or simply praise our God.
- Share ways the rest of the group can pray for you. If you see a request, feel free to post a prayer. That way we can all pray for each other this week.
- Wait! One more thing! I’d also like to know if you accepted last week’s challenge and memorized Ephesians 1:3.
(Each week, in addition to the weekly lesson, I will provide an opportunity – for those who have the time and desire – to go a little deeper. If you are unable to do this, please don’t worry, but if you can, take the plunge!)
Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians can help us pray for ourselves and others. When we pray Scripture, we can be assured we are praying in God’s will! Print a hard copy of Ephesians 1:15-23. Put it in your Bible or where you have your quiet time. Use it this week to pray for others.
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Paul’s first Ephesians prayer focuses on spiritual revelation. He crafted it like a prayer tripod. Tripods are devices that provide good stability but with the minimum number of legs—they can stand on their own even on rough ground where four-legged devices would wobble. Paul left us a prayer for illumination in three broad areas that together can make every Christian rock-solid in their faith.
1. The Hope of His Calling
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling . . . (Eph. 1:18)
As God answers this Ephesians prayer in our lives, what should we expect to happen? Clearly, hope will rise—a hope connected to our calling, an increasing realization of the immense value of our calling. So it’s the calling that we need to investigate.
In Greek, the word “calling” (klēseōs) relates to the word for church, the “called out ones” (ekklēsia). The hope-filled calling in Paul’s prayer is common to all Christians1. We’re actually called in two directions—out of one life and into a wonderful relationship and a new life.
Peter explains it as a calling out of darkness into light, from an orphan identity to being a new people of God. We become aliens and strangers to the fleshly world2. Whatever cultural, social, national, or religious memberships we once treasured, those groups become secondary to our adoption in the family of God3. The door to His household has been flung wide open; hope has come to the Gentiles4. Now God calls all His children “Beloved” and “Saints”5.
That’s just a beginning. Our calling extends beyond the horizon of this life to the hope of the resurrection6. We are called into God’s kingdom and glory too7. Christ living in us gives us hope of that glory because He brings it about8.
In case anyone thinks that the Christian calling is nebulous or otherworldly, the New Testament writers stress the everyday outworking. Later in his letter, Paul exhorted the Ephesians to walk worthy of their calling9. The word “saints” anchors us to the practical. In the first place, we become saints by nature because God changes us. He breaks sin’s power over us, mercifully removes our guilt and shame, and counts us righteous. The designation “saints” is a free gift. Our calling is to freedom from sin and legalism; it carries the expectation of a saintly lifestyle10. The fruit of the Spirit will mark the transformation11.
Walking the walk is entirely possible when we remember that Jesus is given as “head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Eph. 1:22-23). All power and every resource we could ever need are at our disposal to follow our calling. Now there’s a reason for hope!
“The Christian hope is not simply a trembling, hesitant hope that perhaps the promises of God may be true. It is the confident expectation that they cannot be anything else than true.” William Barclay
Please share this devotional with others who might be blessed.