When you read through the Pauline epistles, you can’t help but notice that Paul was a man of prayer. In every one of his letters he mentions prayer. At times, he asks for prayer (Romans 15:30-33, Colossians 4:2-4), sometimes he explains how to pray or what the church should be praying for (Philippians 4:6-7, 1 Timothy 2:1) and in most of his epistles he prays about how thankful he is for the church of the Living God.
An exhaustive study of Paul’s prayers reveal his heart for God and his heart for the church. Each prayer is rich with lessons that can change our own prayer life.
When he wrote to the church at Ephesus, he mentioned two specifics prayers he was praying for the body of Christ in that Greek city on the west coast of Asia Manor. They are found in Ephesians 1:15-19 and 3:14-21.
Paul’s prayers for the church of Ephesus have become prayers our own hearts often echo. Prayers for our families, our friends and ourselves.
Paul prayed because he knew it mattered – he understood that prayer changes things. Paul knew that prayer was getting ahold of Heaven for the needs we have on this earth – asking the God of heaven to intervene in the affairs of man.
Sometimes people don’t pray because they don’t think they know how. Maybe some don’t believe their prayers matter. Perhaps they have a hard time believing God will really respond to the cries of their heart or maybe they just don’t realize the gift they have beautifully packaged the privilege of prayer.
And while this example falls woefully short in significance, prayer is kind of like voting. Your prayer counts…it matters…it can change a destiny.
One prayer caused the sun to stand still. One prayer caused fire to come down from heaven. One prayer caused the Creator of the Universe to speak to Abraham, Moses, Jacob and David.
Do you think your one prayer is any less significant when it stems from a heart of faith?
If you struggle with how to pray, what to pray for or if you’re wondering if God will hear your prayer, take a look at what Paul’s prayers looked like in his prayer for the Ephesian church:
Thankfulness – Paul was thankful for the faith and love displayed by the church at Ephesus (I have not stopped thanking God for you).
Consistent Prayer – Paul was consistently thankful and consistently prayerful. (I pray for you constantly)
Wisdom & Insight – Paul was concerned enough about the spiritual growth of the church to pray for them. (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)
Enlightenment – Paul knew that only God could shed spiritual light on their understanding. He prayed they would have a confident hope and understand their calling in light of their position in Christ. (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).
Power & Strength – Paul prayed for the Ephesian church to understand and walk in the power that was theirs through Christ – to be strong. (that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being).
God’s Unmistakeable & Welcomed Presence – When Paul prayed, “Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him” he used the word “dwell” meaning to settle, to find His home there, as well as govern and prompt. Paul prayed that the church would be surrendered to God’s work in their individual hearts and in their midst.
Love – That they would grasp the depth of the love God has for them which would enable them to fully become who they were created to be. (to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God).
Worship – Paul finishes up his prayer with words of praise for the Living God and in so doing, he gives the Ephesian church (and us) a glimpse of what worship looks like. (Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen)
If you ever feel as though you aren’t sure what to pray for, you can always follow Paul’s lead as you pray for your family, your friends, the church and even yourself like he did.
Does Paul’s example of prayer help you in your own prayer life? What other lessons can we learn from Paul’s prayers for the Ephesian church? What does your prayer life reveal about your heart?
By the way – since we’re talking about prayer today – would you make it a matter of prayer to pray for the Scripture Dig team this weekend while we speak and minister to some wonderful women in Pigeon Forge?