The book of Ephesians is a treasure trove of doctrine and practicality that every Christian should read several times a year. In it, Paul prays two prayers for the church. The first deals with the calling of a Christian, and the second deals with our source of strength. In today’s post, we will look at the first prayer.
Ephesians 1:15-23 ESV “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, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.”
The beginning of our calling is being called to salvation, “even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.” (Eph. 1:4-6 ESV). Jesus said, My sheep know my voice, and we were not born of the will of man, nor the flesh, or blood, but by the will of God. It is the same grace that saves us that enables us to fulfill our call as Christians.
Like other of his letters, Paul commends the Ephesians for their faith and their love. These are hallmark signs of the faithful Christian, a faith in God that may falter but never fall. The love of a Christian is not defined by the world’s idea of tolerance and acceptance but a biblical love that does good, speaks the truth in love and calls sinners to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.
The Christian life doesn’t stop at salvation; it begins there and progresses until we reach heaven. So Paul prayed, and it is instruction for us that we grow in the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that we may know what the hope to which he has called us is, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints. Paul wrote in First Corinthians that if we only have hope in Christ for this life, we are to be pitied above all men. So we have an upward call, a call to fix our eyes on Jesus and set our minds on things above. The only way we can do that is to know the Scripture and conform our lives to its teaching. This is why Paul prayed that we would have wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Jesus.
One of the definitions for wisdom in this verse is purity. Paul said in Romans 16:19 that we needed to be wise as to what is good and innocent of what is evil. Unfortunately, the world we live in today makes it extremely difficult for us to be innocent of evil. From news reports, social media, and the things we watch on television, we are being bombarded by evil, and most of the time, our conscience is numb to what is right in front of our eyes. Paul prayed that the eyes of hearts would be enlightened to know the hope of our calling. How can the eyes of our hearts give light upon things when we are consuming such darkness in social media and television? Proverbs tells us to put a guard on our hearts, and Matthew 6:22 says that the eye is the body’s lamp. If we are going to have the light of Scripture shine on our ways, we must keep the darkness at bay from our hearts and minds.
Philippians 4:8 ESV “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
Our calling is to come out from the world and be separate, to touch, not the unclean thing. Psalm 119:9-12 ESV “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. 10 With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! 11 I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. 12 Blessed are you, O Lord; teach me your statutes!”
We have hope, and it is based on Jesus. That hope has a home, and that is heaven. We are aliens in this world, this is not our home, and we have no treasure here; the more time we give to study, the more insight into the Scripture we have and the more we grow in sanctification, the less we will have in common with the ways of this world.
Jesus has authority, power, and dominion over every name that is named. Sin and temptation have no control over us. When we submit to God, we have the Spirit-given ability to resist the enemy. We are called to a spiritual war, the good news is, we know the outcome, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have to engage in the battle.
“Satan’s main design is to plunder the Christian of all that is heavenly, which is the same as to leave him destitute. So whatever happens here below is quite apart from his being or true happiness, and interferes with neither his joy nor his grief.”The Christian in Complete Armor, Vol. I. by William Gurnall (Pg. 226)
We are called to a different kingdom, a different worldview, a different way of living. We will only fulfill our call by understanding it and being equipped to complete it. We know our call by being in the Scripture; we are trained by the gifts given to the church. It’s time to take an inventory; what is more important, earthly entertainments or a heavenly home? This isn’t to say we can’t have fun, tell jokes, or watch a movie. But, we have a different standard where those things are concerned. The Westminster Shorter Catechism asks, what is the chief end of man? The answer, to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
Do you find joy in prayer and Bible reading? Do you enjoy fellowship with other believers? Have earthly entertainments led you away from your first love? Ponder these questions in light of the prayer Paul Prayed.