Summary: Paul's prayer for the saints in Ephesians 1:15-19 shows us how to praise and petition God for believers.
We are currently in a series of sermons on Ephesians 1 that I am calling, “God’s Supreme Purpose.”
In Ephesians 1:3-14, which is one, long, complex, glorious sentence in the original Greek, the Apostle Paul praised God for salvation. Paul praised the Father for planning our salvation, the Son for purchasing our salvation, and the Holy Spirit for applying that salvation to us.
In Ephesians 1:15-23, which is also one, long, complex, glorious sentence in the original Greek, the Apostle Paul prayed for the saints to grow in their understanding of, and appreciation for, the blessings of salvation.
Let’s read Paul’s prayer for the saints in Ephesians 1:15-19a:
15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe. (Ephesians 1:15-19a)
Dr. James Montgomery Boice writes,
If God is in charge of everything and has “foreordained whatsoever comes to pass” – in the words of the Westminster Shorter Catechism – what is the point of praying? In fact, what is the point of doing anything? Why witness? Why study the Bible? Why do good works? If what is going to happen is going to happen anyway, none of these things count. We might as well do as we please and let God do what he wants.
The answer to these questions is that although God is sovereign and has indeed “foreordained whatsoever comes to pass,” he nevertheless uses means to accomplish his purposes. That is, God uses the means of Scripture reading, prayer, witnessing, serving, and so on to accomplish his purposes. The astonishing thing is that God uses fallen human beings to accomplish his purposes!
This truth is taught most clearly in Ephesians 1. The Apostle Paul clearly taught the sovereignty of God in our salvation in the first half of the chapter. He could not have been clearer about God the Father planning our salvation by electing a vast number to salvation, the Son purchasing our salvation by his life, death, burial, and resurrection, and the Holy Spirit applying the blessings of salvation to the elect.
In the second half of the chapter the Apostle Paul stressed the importance of prayer so that believers would fully understand and appreciate the blessings of salvation.
Paul’s prayer for the saints in Ephesians 1:15-19 shows us how to praise and petition God for believers.
Let’s use the following outline:
1. Praise God for Believers (1:15-16)
2. Petition God for Believers (1:17-19a)
I. Praise God for Believers (1:15-16)
First, Paul’s prayer for the saints shows us how to praise God for believers.