Summary: What Paul prayed would happen in the lives of the Ephesians and what God want to happen in our lives today.
"Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in the prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him" (vv. 15-17).
Paul makes four requests in this prayer. His first request is that God would give the believers at Ephesus "THE SPIRIT OF WISDOM AND REVELATION IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF HIM."
This knowledge of God is more that just an INTELLECTUAL knowledge of God; it is a PERSONAL knowledge of Him. It is more than knowing FACTS; it is knowing a PERSON.
How do we grow in the knowledge of God?
Spend time with Him.
Listen to Him.
Talk to Him.
It is significant that this was Paul’s first request for the Ephesians. If this was Paul’s supreme desire for these Christians, shouldn’t we see this as our greatest priority?
In verses 18-19 Paul makes three more requests.
"The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe. . . ."
In this prayer Paul requests that his readers may know . . .
1. "THE HOPE OF [GOD’S] CALLING";
2. "THE RICHES OF THE GLORY OF [GOD’S] INHERITANCE";
3. "THE EXCEEDING GREATNESS OF [GOD’S] POWER."
If we were to take out our prayer lists and compare them with the prayer list of Paul, how would they compare? Probably our prayer lists would be quite different.
From this prayer we learn two of Paul’s prayer principles:
1. Paul put the needs of others before his own needs.
Paul was constantly praying for others:
In his letter to the Romans, he wrote, "I make mention of YOU always in my prayers" (1:9).
In his first letter to the Corinthians, he wrote, "I always thank God for YOU" (1:4, NIV).
In his letter to the Philippians, he wrote, "In all my prayers for all of YOU, I always pray with joy" (1:4, NIV).
In his letter to the Colossians, he wrote, "We . . . do not cease to pray for YOU" (1:9).
In his first letter to the Thessalonians, he wrote, "We give thanks to God always for YOU all, making mention of YOU in our prayers" (1:2).
In his second letter to the Thessalonians, he wrote, "We pray always for YOU" (1:11).
In his second letter to Timothy, he wrote, "Without ceasing I have remembrance of THEE in my prayers night and day" (1:3).
In his letter to Philemon, he wrote, "I thank my God, making mention of THEE always in my prayers" (v. 4).
There was an old maid who prayed like this: "Lord, I don’t come to you asking anything for myself. I just ask that you would give to my mother a son-in-law."
2. Paul put spiritual needs before physical needs.
Our prayer lists are usually filled with matters such as Aunt Edith’s sore big toe and Cousin Henry’s sick cow.
There’s nothing wrong with praying for physical needs, but first on our prayer list should be spiritual needs.
Since this prayer is included in God’s inspired Word, we must conclude that this prayer is according to the will of God. Therefore it is God’s will that we know these things. God wants us to know these things.
I. GOD WANTS US TO KNOW THAT HE HAS CALLED US.
II. GOD WANTS US TO KNOW THAT HE HAS CALLED US TO AN INHERITANCE.
III. GOD WANTS US TO KNOW THAT HE HAS CALLED US TO AN INHERITANCE BY HIS POWER.
The first part of verse 18 is the key: "THE EYES OF YOUR UNDERSTANDING BEING ENLIGHTENED."
Without illumination from God, we cannot understand the things of God:
"The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Corinthians 2:14).
After Peter declared, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the God," Jesus said to him, "Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 16:16-17).
David prayed, "Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law" (Psalm 119:18). This should be our prayer before we begin reading God’s Word.
Unless we realize our dependence upon the Holy Spirit, the Word will not speak to us.
Look at verse 18 again: "The eyes of YOUR understanding being enlightened; that YE may know." Don’t take someone else’s word for it, see the truth of God’s Word for yourself.