For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him, having your eyes enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which He has called you, what are the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His great might that 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 rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that in named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things under His feet and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all.This truly is one of the greatest recorded prayers we have in Scripture, and if we unpacked all the glorious gems contained in this opulent mine, all the blogs in the world could not contain the glory therein.
So we'll just touch on a few.
First, note what stimulates Paul's prayer(s) for the Ephesian believers: he prays for them simply because they are believers. As the letter unfolds, Paul tells us that all believers are integral parts of God's temple (2:21-22), and thus all play an integral part (1:22-23; cf, 4:16) in God's eternal purpose to sum up all things in the Son (cf. 1:9-10). Regardless of one's 'functional importance' in the church, all Christians have the Holy Spirit (1:13-14; 4:30) and represent on earth the Christ is who ruling from heaven.
Of course, it is not wrong to naturally pray for those in our churches who are nearest and dearest to us. But this ought to encourage to be intentional in praying for those in our midst who might be easily overlooked or neglected. One example worth emulating is that of Mark Dever, who makes it a habit to systematically pray through the church's membership directory* throughout the year, so that none of the saints will be forgotten in prayer.
- There are many hurting Christians in our membership that are 'falling through the cracks.' Let us ask God to bring them to our remembrance, that we might pray prayers like Ephesians 1 for them.
Second, notice when and how Paul remembers them: "in [his] prayers." The present tense of the verb and plural nouns perhaps suggest that Paul indeed had regular times of prayer that he intentionally set apart to pray for the Christians in the various churches he had planted.
- Let us pray for the discipline to intentionally set apart times of prayer where we pray not only for ourselves and our family and our close friends [as necessary and important as this is], but also for others in our midst who bear the badge of heaven as new creatures in Christ.
When Paul remembers these believers, he prays. He doesn't gossip about them. He doesn't remember their faults and follies. Nor does he simply 'move on.' No, when God brings them to his remembrance, he prays for them (cf. Phil. 1:3). What a glorious habit!
- Let us pray that God would give us such a 'heavenly perspective' and love for His people that we would immediately pray for them when they are brought to our minds by the Holy Spirit.
Third, and lastly, we see the content of His prayer: that God the Father would give them "the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him."
Because the wisdom that comes from the revelatory Spirit is a gift, we must ask for it - not only for ourselves, but also for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Of all the things Paul could have prayed for - safety, riches, influence, giftings - Paul chooses rather to pray for what these Christians truly needed: a God-revealed wisdom that enables them to see the world from His perspective (cf. 2 Cor. 5:16), resulting in practical and intentional decisions that reflect this Spirit-wrought 'heavenly-mindedness', something that is diametrically opposed to the kind of mindset and lifestyle that is characterized amongst the 'sons of disobedience' (see 2:1-4). What this practically looks like is seen in chapters 4-6.
- Let us then simply pray that God would grant us as a church this kind of "Spiritual wisdom and revelation" that produces a "growing knowledge" (NET) of our great God and Savior. For when a Christian truly knows God,** everything changes!!
In Christ, and for His glory in His church,
* It is interesting that the believers in Ephesus did not keep their faith to themselves. When Paul says he "has heard of their faith," it likely means that one of his apostolic emissaries (e.g. Timothy, Titus, etc.) had come back with a report, revealing that these Christians were going public with the gospel (cf. Rom. 1:8). We also see that their faith in the Lord Jesus is inseparably coupled with their love towards the saints. "Towards" is a great translation of the preposition, and infers more than just a sentimentality here; rather, this love was demonstrated in tangible expressions of love that could be seen flowing from the source towards the recipient. Those who confess faith in Christ and submission to His lordship will also possess a genuine and concrete love towards those who belong to Him.
** The Greek word used for "knowledge" here, epignosis, often carries the connotation of an intimate knowledge. That is, this is more than just 'head knowledge.' As important as it is to devour and learn a systematic theology textbook, this is not the kind of 'knowledge' Paul is praying for. Rather, he is praying that the believers would so "know" God - which can only come about by the Spirit's "revelation" (and not just mere study) - and be transformed in their minds and hearts and wills and lives.