Been feeling a little “stale” when it comes time to pray? Do you “go through the motions” in your quiet time? Are you longing to find a true connection with God?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are not alone! We all focus more on our to do lists that we exhaust ourselves with all the things we need to do that we forget to truly connect with Him. I have been there. I do that. That’s why I am exploring how Paul prayed.
Paul’s time in Ephesus
We will start with Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians. So, a little background is in order…
At the time Paul was living there, Ephesus was a Major commercial center at the intersection of major trade routes in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey). We learn in Acts 19 that Paul made Ephesus his base of operations for over 2 years while he preached throughout Asia Minor.
Paul wrote the book of Ephesians while in a Roman prison. He knew that they would not have him with them forever, so he penned this letter to the church at Ephesus. It is a basic manual for Christians. He starts with a greeting and review of the gospel he had preached among them. Then he prays for the believers in Ephesus and throughout the world.
Paul’s prayer for Ephesus (and all Christians)
Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church,Ephesians 1:15-22 (NKJV)
We can see in this prayer a very definite outline of items that we should include in our prayers.
Paul gave thanks for the Ephesians and for their faith. He heard about their struggles and how they were remaining strong and following the gospel. But, he knew that it wasn’t because of him or anything he had done.
Acknowledge Who God Is
This can be a tricky one! Paul moved right from thanking God for the lives of the Ephesians to acknowledging God for who He is. He understood who he was addressing. There is power in trying to grasp just a little bit of who God is. If you don’t know Him, ask! He’ll show you! Also, studying the names of God included throughout the Bible will also help to reveal His character and nature. See, when you understand who God is, it doesn’t matter if you are the greatest person on the earth or the equivalent of a dog begging for a crumb of bread. God is the one who provides, who heals, who teaches, etc.
Ask God for His Spirit of Wisdom
Paul knew that they would never be able to measure up on their own. They would never understand who God is or what He was doing without help. He knew that He could not be there in person to explain it all to them. He had no guarantee that he would be alive tomorrow. And, so, He ask God to send His Spirit of Wisdom to reveal Himself.
In 1 Corinthians 2:7-10, Paul said
God’s wisdom cannot be understood with natural human understanding – it must be revealed to us by God. He reveals it to us by and through His Spirit.1 Corinthians 2:7-10
Ask God to Help You Understand
And so, Paul asked that the Ephesians would be able to understand 3 things:
- The Hope of His Calling
- The Riches of the Glory of the Inheritance
- The exceeding greatness of His power.
Wow! If we even just scratched the surface of understanding these things, I think we would all live our lives a little bit differently. I know I would. Prayer is not about giving him my list of wishes. It’s not about avoiding hell. It’s not about being perfect or checking off the next item on my list of things to do today. Prayer is about a relationship with our heavenly Father. He loves us more than we know. It is about His people coming alongside Him and connecting with Him. I like how Lisa Bevere put it:
…prayer is not issuing directives to God so that he might do our bidding. Prayer acknowledges who God is and invites his involvement in our lost and broken world.Lisa Bevere, Godmothers p. 66
So, how about you? What do you need to change in your prayer time to follow Paul’s example?