Summary: If the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to pray this for the Ephesians, then shouldn’t we be praying it for one another? (#10 in the "Every Spiritual Blessing" series)
The same Greek word is used for spirit throughout the New Testament, whether referring to the Holy Spirit or the spirit of man. The application of it is generally determined by the context. For example, chapter 1:13 uses the term Holy Spirit and that makes it quite obvious. But over in chapter 2, verse 18, when Paul says that we all have our access in one Spirit to the Father, it is understood that he is referring to none other than the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the trinity, as we know that it is His office to bring us, draw us, to God.
So looking closely at our text, verse 17, I have to assert that the wording of it and what Paul is praying for the Ephesians is for something that only the Holy Spirit of God can give.
He is not praying for them to have an attitude, or a strength of determination, or any other thing that can be conjured up, mustered up within a man; he is praying and asking God for this particular thing because he is praying for spiritual wisdom and revelation, that can only come from God.
Now does that mean he’s praying for God to give them the Holy Spirit? No. He’s writing to believers. They have the Holy Spirit since their salvation. What he is praying for simply, is the Holy Spirit’s help and continued unction in bringing to these faithful believers ever greater wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of God.
Christian, we spend a great deal of time closely examining Paul’s doctrine; debating the finer points and talking about how we should be living according to the truth of them.
And of course I agree and consistently teach that Paul’s aim was to magnify Christ and to point us to Him, and it is Christ we need to study and learn to know personally, and it is Christ who is our ultimate example in all things.
But we could learn some things by looking at the example of the Apostle Paul too.
When was the last time you prayed for the spiritual growth and well-being of another Christian? Oh, you may have prayed for your child. You may pray often for your child. Your child may give you very frequent cause to run to your room and fall on your knees in prayer. And I hope you pray for your spouse. I believe there is a great deal of spiritual power in the prayer of a husband for his wife and visa versa.
But I wonder how many Christians, even among pastors of congregations of people, intercede for other believers ~ for believers everywhere ~ and pray, not for things, not for health, not for help in specific, known circumstances, ... but just that the Holy Spirit would give them wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of the Father of glory.
Since I’ve been studying this great epistle for this series, I have been moved to pray these things for you. On my morning walks I like to run your faces past my mind’s eye and pray for you by name. And if I know of any particular, present need, I mention that. But some things I can pray for each and every one and never have to wonder whether I am praying for a legitimate need or not. I can pray that the Lord will enlighten the eyes of your heart, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe; and be confident that I am praying aright. Because I’m praying the scriptures for you. Can’t go wrong there!