Summary: Paul’s prayer that we might have both head knowledge and heart knowledge
Eyes of the Heart ¡V Eph. 1:15-19a
Steve Simala Grant, Aug. 5, 2001
Intro: Praying Scripture
Have you ever prayed Scripture? Taken your Bible with you to prayer, opened it, and allowed the words of God to become your words to God? For centuries, the practice of praying Scripture has been common among Christians seeking to know God, as they seek both to hear God speak to them through His Word and also as they seek to express their desires to God using the words found in Scripture.
It is really not difficult to do. Especially if you choose a passage of Scripture which is a prayer already! The idea is simply that you take the words of Scripture and make them your own in expression to God. We do this in our worship ¡V that is what the majority of song writers today are doing, taking Scripture and expressing it in their own words and in music ¡V and that is why worship can be so powerful, because it is expressing God¡¦s Word back to Him as our prayer.
I begin with that question, and with that really brief overview of a spiritual discipline, because today we are going to look at Paul¡¦s prayer in Eph. 1:15-19a. My goal for us today is two-fold: first that we would ¡§own¡¨ this prayer of Paul¡¦s and pray it for ourselves and our community, and second that we would see answers to this prayer.
Read Eph. 1:15-23
There is so much in this prayer that we could talk about this morning, but there simply is not time to mine each nugget of truth ¡V I¡¦ll leave some treasures for you to find in your own study. Instead this week I want to concentrate on vss. 17-19a, where Paul expresses the content of his prayer, and next week we¡¦ll look at vss. 19b-23. He prays first for what we might call ¡§head knowledge¡¨, and second for what we might call ¡§heart knowledge¡¨.
A. Head Knowledge - vs. 17
Paul¡¦s first prayer, and notice that it is a continual prayer, is that God would give us ¡§the Spirit of wisdom and revelation.¡¨ Notice first the capital ¡§S¡¨ on Spirit (NIV) ¡V referring to the Holy Spirit. The passage just prior to this one has taught us that as believers in Christ we have the Holy Spirit ¡V it describes Him as a ¡§deposit¡¨, and here Paul prays that the Spirit might be manifest in our minds as He brings wisdom and revelation. It is the Holy Spirit that speaks to our minds, focussing us and drawing our thoughts to God. It is the Holy Spirit that leads us in right thinking and in the right doing that follows.
He asks that the Spirit would bring us wisdom. I did a little research this week to find out what this word means, and the definition I found was ¡§the ability to use knowledge for correct behavior.¡¨ So the idea is more than simply knowing in our heads, but knowing in our heads in such a way that translates into how we behave. It is the idea of deep knowledge ¡V not just knowing a list of rules for behavior, but knowing the reasons, the concepts, and the correct motivations behind those reasons. Wisdom is understanding that manifests itself in correct behavior.
Alongside wisdom Paul prays for revelation. This is the idea of uncovering, disclosing, revealing. I see this as the point when we really come to understand. I don¡¦t know about you, but I often find myself reading something, then having to read it again, stop and think about it, maybe read it one more time, then finally ¡V ¡§aha!¡¨ I get it. The light clicks on, and it is suddenly clear. Paul¡¦s prayer here is that the Spirit would flip the light switch, and God¡¦s words would be revealed.
The next idea in Paul¡¦s prayer is the idea of knowing God. The NIV translates this idea with the phrase ¡§so that you may know him better.¡¨ Again I did a little digging, and found out that there is more to it than this. The word Paul uses means ¡§to possess more or less definite information about, possibly with a degree of thoroughness or competence.¡¨ Paul is not simply praying that we would know God better, but that we would know God fully. I think this is a key distinction. God does not desire mere familiarity with us ¡V he does not want us to be merely acquaintances. He wants us to know Him definitely ¡V fully ¡V intimately.
That is the first part of Paul¡¦s prayer, for head knowledge. Do you notice, though, that none of these words suggest simply learning more facts about God? It is not about knowing more things, but about knowing a person. It is not just about understanding, but about right action that comes from that right understanding. You and I live in an information culture. We are saturated ¡V the biggest challenge for us is not to gather information, but to sift through it to find what is true and relevant and interesting. And I think it is tempting for us to import that understanding into our spiritual lives as well. We desire more information, more facts, more interesting Biblical tidbits, more training, new perspectives on familiar passages. And sometimes we use those things to avoid intimacy with God ¡V we want to learn about Him without ever getting to really know Him. We wants facts that we can hold in our heads rather than truths that we can live by. The truth of the Gospel is infinitely simple: Jesus died for us, was raised from the dead for us, and invites us to respond in faith and obedience. The hard part is not understanding it but living it.