Tucked away in my journal is a little list that I find myself returning to often lately. At some point I went through the New Testament of my Bible and jotted down all the times that someone says “and I pray that…” You see, my prayer life isn’t always very rich or powerful or consistent. More often than I care to admit, much of my prayer life is me throwing up quick requests for God to bless my plans as I go about life. So I wanted to comb through the Bible and see what sorts of things Jesus’ earliest followers prayed about.
Two of my favorites are in the book of Ephesians. Ephesians is a powerful letter from the apostle Paul to the newish Christians who lived in Ephesus during the first century. He had poured his heart and soul into the early formation of the church at Ephesus and obviously had some important things he wanted to share with them.
He spends the first half of the letter simply reminding them who they are in Christ. It’s beautiful to recount all the blessings that are ours simply because of riches of God’s grace and the kind intention of His will. It’s like a torrential downpour of spiritual blessings.
Couched among his admonitions and reminders is this precious prayer that Paul utters on behalf of these dear ones. I can’t get it out of my head. Here’s what he prays for his friends in Ephesus:
I pray that they eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will 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 surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.
The bit that I can’t seem to get over… is how different that seems from most of our prayers. Like I mentioned earlier, my prayers pretty much default to the physical realities of my life or the lives of the people around me. Prayers for safe travels. Or for a friend’s frustrations at work. Or for the kids to be more obedient. Or my to-do list.
Please don’t misunderstand me, I don’t think it’s wrong to pray for those things. Paul prayed for healing for himself. Jesus told us to pray for our daily bread. Our daily, physical needs are important. They matter to us and to our Lord. I have a friend who just had her second miscarriage. You better believe I’m praying for God to give them healthy baby.
But, I can’t get away from Paul’s prayer either. It’s like he realized that there was something even more critical for us to catch. That what we need – even more than physical healing or immediate provision – is to know, beyond of a shadow of a doubt, who our God is and how He feels about us. That my deepest need is not a better system of organizing my calendar or more hours in the day or more money to make ends meet or a bigger family room or a healthy husband. That there is a spiritual realm that is just as real as my daily physical one. What if I really believed that? And started praying this for me? And all the people that I love?
I’m going to keep praying for immediate, tangible needs all around me. But, my prayer life could use a pretty healthy dose of praying for the deeper, unseen places – for the eyes of my heart to be enlightened. In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s the best thing I could pray for you too.
- Do you know and exalt in the hope of His calling? Hope does not disappoint!!
- Do you experience the heaping riches of His inheritance? If you know Him, you are a daughter of the King of the Universe. That’s a lot of riches.
- Do you believe He brings His great, raise-people-from-dead-type-of-power to bear on your life? He has the power to help you conquer the most addictive behaviors or failures that plague you.
Oh… how I pray that they eyes of your heart will be enlightened. So that you will KNOW.
Grace and peace,