HOW & WHY TO PRAY
Today, as we begin Ephesians Chapter 1, the apostle Paul gives us his very own prayer for the Ephesians, which we can learn and pray for ourselves and our loved ones! I love this prayer, in particular, because it is asking God to help us learn and understand his truth, by the power of his Holy Spirit. This is our memory verse prayer for the first few weeks of this study. Memorizing it and learning to pray it in faith will greatly increase our ability to understand God’s Word. Praying it with our families will equip them to pray with power and to receive revelation from the Lord, too!
17 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. 18 I pray 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 his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. — Ephesians 1:17-23
This prayer is a really long, complex paragraph! It can be hard to read. Let’s break it down to help ourselves understand what Paul the apostle is praying and why. Doing this can help our own prayer lives. Is this a one-time prayer? No! Paul specifically says he prays this prayer continually.
Many people pray over a grocery list of people and concerns, from healing for people who are sick, to protection for loved ones, to comfort for those who are grieving. How is Paul’s approach different from just praying for a specific need someone may have?
Paul is praying that the Ephesians will know and understand God himself, and who
believers are in Christ, by inviting the Father to fill them with the Spirit of wisdom
and revelation. He is also praying for their faith in the resurrection power of Jesus.
The same power that raised Jesus from the dead fills every believer! When we pray
and invite the Holy Spirit to enlighten our eyes to know the hope to which we are
called, it changes the way we read our Bibles. We can read with hope! This intimate
interaction with the Holy Spirit makes all the difference between reading the Bible
in a chore-like manner or academic way and reading it as an interaction with the King of kings and the Lord of lords.
Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians is for them to have hope from the Holy Spirit to see the glorious calling and inheritance they have in Christ. Our hope is in Christ and in his power to save us and work in our lives. People filled with the knowledge and understanding of God’s work in their lives will have faith to trust the Lord to answer those long grocery lists of prayer requests. Whether your prayer is for a child in college, a conflict in a marriage, a financial need, or a future spouse, knowing who you are talking to and his great power, ability, and desire to meet your needs, will increase your faith in the Lord to intervene in the situation. This spiritual revelation and ability to trust God comes from the Holy Spirit.
Take a minute right now. Pray this prayer for yourself! Instead of praying the word “you,” insert your own name or say “me” or “mine.” For example,
“I, __________, ask you, the God of MY Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, that you may give me the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that I, may know you better. I pray that ...”
Continue this example of praying scripture through all of the memory verse.
Ladies, you have to pray for yourself before you can pray for anyone else! Why? It’s like being in an airplane. In case of an emergency, flight attendants always teach you to first put the oxygen mask on yourself, so you can then help your children or friends around you. This is exactly the same concept! You need Christ to enlighten you and strengthen your faith. As you know him more, through every hardship and situation you may face, you will gain confidence in his ability to work in the lives of the people you are praying for. Read Romans 5 for more information about this topic.
Why is it so easy to pray for other people and not for ourselves? Well, perhaps, it comes from the nurturing nature of a woman. This is a God-given ability to put aside our own needs and take on the needs of a child, spouse, or friend.
We are created to propagate the human race. We birth life out of our bodies. When I was a new mom, one of my mother’s lifelong friends called to wish me well on our new arrival. She asked me how nursing was going with my little Ariel. This woman was a leader in a women’s nursing support network. I related to her that we had overcome the initial difficult phase and that Ariel was nursing like a champ. “How are you eating?” she asked. “Um, I’m eating okay, I guess.” I looked at the box of Oreo cookies on the table that I had tapped for my breakfast. I felt a twinge of guilt.