Paul has a prayer for the church of Ephesus that took my breath away when I heard it the other day. Here is the prayer:
I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit[f] of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 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, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.
The things that Paul was asking God for in his prayer are rarely prayers I hear from Christians. Paul isn’t praying for people to be healed, for more money to be made available, for more attendees to the church, for budgets to be met, for a better facility to be made available, or for the church to avoid persecution. Though a different context and on a different level, we must realize that the churches that Paul is writing to had the same physical, financial, institutional, and political struggles that we have and probably more so. Paul doesn’t address any of that in his prayer. Also, you don’t get the sense that he is just trying to impress his readers with his profound prayer of depth and eloquence. He tells them that this is not the first time he has prayed for these things. He says he “keeps asking” because this is a prayer that he has repeated many times. Instead of attendance, health, and the political debate of the day, Paul is asking that God provide the church with wisdom and revelation so that they may know God better. How strange.
Oh, how I wish someone was praying this prayer over me. What a powerful thing it would be to see this prayer fulfilled in my life. Wisdom, revelation, a Christ filled enlightenment, hope, God’s glorious inheritance, and divine power are so what I need and long for and I suspect the same for everyone else that I know. Take a few common things that might have been prayed this past year and put Paul’s prayer over those things and you have such a richer, more meaningful, and Grown Up life.
If my wisdom increased and I contracted COVID then I would know how to think about myself and God and my body in a way that would help me persevere and be a benefit to others. If my heart, which is the center of my spiritual life and the place where intention and will operate, is enlightened and awakened to receive God and experience him then my compassion and sense of duty when it comes to race and those that suffer injustice will reflect God’s own heart and action. If my knowledge and experience of God’s great power was more evident in my life then I would see my financial and vocational challenges not as impediments to my growing faith but as part of my testimony to God’s provision and goodness based on his promises.
You see, the gifts that are provided for us of the spiritual nature, though not on the tip of our prayer tongues, are so much more helpful and needed for life than some of the prayers that often take up our prayer list.
I am not encouraging anyone from praying for financial health, curing of diseases, or political and societal peace. I am saying that we should follow Paul’s example and keep praying for wisdom, for revelation, for experiential knowledge of God, for hope, for spiritual and eternal riches, and for power. Paul knew that if his hearers in Ephesus had these things in abundance that so much of their earthly problems would begin to take care of themselves or at least be handled with perseverance, strength, courage, understanding, depth, maturity, trust, and love.
Please pray for me that I can experience all that God promises me in my character and spirit. This is what my heart truly desires and I will keep praying for you. For Paul’s prayer is life giving and enriching and needed more than we know.