Summary: Just as Paul did for the Ephesian churches, we should pray to have our eyes opened to the fullness of who Jesus Christ is.
1. Introduction (1:15-18)
2. The first eye opening petition is that the church might know the grace of Christ. (18a)
3. The second eye opening petition is that the church might know the glory of Christ. (18b)
4. The third eye opening petition is that the church might know the greatness of Christ (19-23)
Prayer is one of the most wonderful gifts that God gives us. What an awesome privilege it is to boldly approach the throne of our Maker with our petitions. Often times, our prayer life isn’t what it ought to be. Many times we look to God as some sort of supernatural Santa Claus. Our prayers sound like Christmas lists. I want, I need, I gotta have. But I rejoice when I hear prayer requests that are concerned about the needs of others. That was the way Paul was. In almost every one of his letters to churches in the New Testament, Paul told the people he was praying for them. But how did he pray for them? Did he pray for their material well-being? No, he didn’t seem much concerned about that. What about their health and physical well being? No, that wasn’t his main concern either. If not those areas, what was his main concern about the people that he prayed for? We’ll see as we look at one of Paul’s prayers.
READ EPHESIANS 1:15-23
As Paul is writing to the churches in Ephesus, he lets them know he’s praying for them. These people are well known. In his travels, Paul has heard about their faith. He’s heard about their love. Other people were telling him about their faith in Jesus and their love for each other, and Paul thanked God for them. But not only did he thank God for them, he petitioned God for them as well. He petitioned God for wisdom and revelation. He asked that their eyes would be opened. That’s my prayer as well. It’s my prayer that each of us here would have our eyes opened so we can see the fullness of who Jesus Christ is. In order that we might see, we’re going to look into Paul’s prayer at three eye opening petitions for the church. The first eye opening petition is that the church might know the grace of Christ. Look with me at verse 18 for the first thing Paul prayed for:
READ EPHESIANS 1:18a
Like Paul, I pray that we might know the grace of Christ. If I were to ask what grace means, I would probably get a good Sunday school answer. Something like, “grace is getting God’s unmerited favor.” Or, “grace is getting what we don’t deserve and not getting what we do deserve.” Both of those are true. But grace is so much more. Grace is when, before the foundations of the world—God looked down into history—a history He hadn’t even created yet and saw you and me. He saw us dead in our trespasses and sins. He foreknew that, as Genesis 6:5 says, “that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” God knew that from before the foundations of the earth and He created us anyway. And He provided a way of redemption. And He called us to that redemption. That is grace. Grace is God taking a person who is dead and calling them to life in Him. Calling them to life through the blood of His Son Jesus Christ. Paul prays that God will open the church’s eyes to the wonderful hope they have because God called them to salvation. The hope of His calling. Hope speaks of anticipation. It speaks of expectation. Paul is praying that they will realize all of the wonderful things they have to look forward to because God has called them and saved them. If we are saved today, why are we downcast? Why are we gloomy? How can we be pessimistic and negative? We have hope! Hope that nobody else can have apart from the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. I know we go through hard times. I know we have to endure suffering. I know we have emotional and physical burdens. One of the worst things we have to endure on this earth is the loss of a loved one. But Paul even talked about that as hope. In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17, he wrote: “"But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” You see, even in our worst trials, we grieve. But we don’t grieve like those with no hope. Even in your worst times, if you know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you have the hope of His calling. If you’re saved, God has called you from death unto life through His Son Jesus Christ. That is the hope of His calling. You have it. But just like Paul did for the Ephesian churches, I pray that we can see that we have it. That’s the first petition. That the church might know the grace of Christ. The grace of Christ which is the hope of His calling. But not only does Paul pray that their eyes might be open to the grace of Christ, he prays they might be open to the glory of Christ. The second eye opening petition is that the church might know the glory of Christ. Look at the rest of verse 18: