Let's continue with the closing of the prayer in Ephesians 3 with verses 20 and 21. Paul's ending words of his prayer for the Ephesians is an ode to God, "Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen" (NRSV). It sounds familiar because it is Paul's example we are following when we end prayers with something like, "To God be the glory forever and ever. Amen."
But let's take a look at that first verse. God is able to accomplish more than we can ask or imagine by his power within us. He has placed his power within us. Do we believe that? It is the word of God. Do we believe that God has placed his power within us? If not, why not? Supposedly it can do more than we can ask or even imagine. The verse carries through Paul's previous prayer that we are strengthened in our inner being with God's power through the Holy Spirit. It seems to me that if we accept this as the word of God then we accept it as being true. We are strengthened by the power of God to accomplish more than we can ask or imagine.
It implies that what we imagine limits us. We don't ask for enough. We are letting the power that raised Christ from the dead go to waste. I imagine that what each of us can do is different from the other. We are one body, one spirit in one Lord, one faith, one baptism (Eph 4:4-5). The parts of the body are made to do different things, but all work together. We all have a part to play.
Let's not let the power of God go to waste. Dream. Imagine. Ask.
To God be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
#Paul #Paul's Prayers #Prayer #Ephesians
We have spent time already looking at Ephesians 1:16-19 and 3:15-16. Let us continue with 3:17-19 which states "that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God" (NRSV).
Whew! What a mouthful. Paul loves those run-on sentences. He gets so excited with what he is praying that he can't stop. His infectious joy overflows at the inclusion of Gentiles in the body of Christ. (As a Pharisee, I doubt Paul ever thought to see such a thing.) So his prayer is that, since they have come to faith, Christ dwell in their hearts and that Christ's presence in them ground them in love for others. This love for others should be deepened by coming to understand the breadth, length, height and depth of God's love which without revelation is unknowable. He has already prayed for them to have this revelation as we saw in 1:17. Really, this prayer in chapter 3 is a continuation of the prayer in chapter 1.
So how does this lead us to pray? It seems that we should pray for a greater knowledge of the depth of God's love. It's a love that never runs out, never gives up. And, if no one has told you this today, let me say it now: God loves you.
#Paul #Prayer #Prayers #Revelation #Ephesians #St.Paul
Another section of prayer in Ephesians is in 1:16-19. It begins with the thought that Paul always gives thanks for them. This is not unusual for Paul. He seems to make thanksgiving for other believers a regular part of his prayer. ("I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers" 1:16. Also see Romans 1:8, 1 Cor 1:4, Phil 1:3)
Is it a regular part of our prayer? Do we start our prayer time by giving thanks to God whether for people or circumstances or God's provision? If not, it can be a good way to begin (see 1 Thes 5:16-18).
Paul goes on in Ephesians to pray that God the Father give them a spirit of wisdom and revelation as they come to know him. Why? So that they may know the hope to which God has called them, know the riches of his inheritance, and know the immeasurable greatness of his power. God's wisdom and revelation bring greater knowledge of God which will bring knowledge of the hope, riches and power that he supplies. This growth in wisdom and revelation is supernaturally provided. It is not worldly wisdom or revelation gained through study or practice. It is a gift as promised in Isaiah 11, now made available through the work of Jesus Christ. Through wisdom and revelation we have the hope of a wonderful eternal life, the riches of his blessings both on earth and in the world to come, and the power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in heaven at the right hand of the Father.
So let's apply this to our prayer life. Do we pray for wisdom and revelation for ourselves? It is a good thing to do, especially before we read Scripture. Do we have hope, riches and power in our lives? The power he gives us is to spread the Gospel. Many people envision spreading the Gospel as standing on the street corner yelling at people. In reality it is looking for the opportunities in our daily life to be good to others, pray with them and tell them about Jesus and what he has done for us. It does not have to be a scary proposition.
Do we pray for others to be blessed with God's wisdom and revelation? This would particularly include family members and those for whom we are responsible. Do we pray such a prayer for our pastor? Pastors need wisdom and revelation from God every day. And they need our prayers.
So let us follow in Paul's footsteps with this example of prayer. Let us give thanks in all things and ask for supernatural wisdom and revelation. Let us pray.
#Paul #Prayer #Prayers #Wisdom #Revelation
Paul's authority, ministry and preaching were under attack when he wrote to the church in Galatia. Nevertheless he wrote to them with grace about grace. "I pray over you a release of the blessings of God's undeserved kindness and total well-being that flows from our Father-God and from the Lord Jesus" (Gal 1:3-4 TPT). Paul always begins and ends his letters with a benediction, not a criticism. Even though the letter was written for correction and clarification of their belief and practice, he blessed them again at the end, saying, "Finally my beloved ones - may the wonderful grace of our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, be flowing in your spirit. So shall it be!" (Gal 6:18 TPT).
In the opening benediction, Paul describes God's kindness as "undeserved". It is a theme of this letter - grace and salvation are unearned by human actions. Paul wishes the Galatians "total well-being" even though he is taking them to task. Paul sets the example for us that just because we disagree with someone we are not free to wish them ill, or to pray that God "strike them down" for their disbelief or heresy. No, we are to bless them, praying for an in-pouring of God's grace and that they be well in body, mind and spirit.
For Reflection: Is this how we pray for those with whom we disagree?
#Paul #Prayer #St.Paul #Grace
We may know more about the apostle Paul's prayer life than any other New Testament person's simply because his letters contain prayers for the various recipients. In this series we will examine some of these recorded prayers to mine them for the power they demonstrated.
"So I kneel humbly in awe before the Father of our Lord Jesus, the Messiah, the perfect Father of every father and child in heaven and on the earth. And I pray that he would unveil within you the unlimited riches of his glory and favor until supernatural strength floods your innermost being with his divine might and explosive power" (Ephesians 3:15-16 TPT). He begins, "So I kneel humbly in awe before the Father". Did his prayer time include a type of transport to the throne room of God where he could kneel in awe in the actual divine presence? Or was it in his mind's eye that he experienced the sensation of being in God's presence? Did he physically kneel beside his bed or in his prayer corner? Maybe he knelt to pray as he was dictating the letter? This last option seems less likely to me. I've always pictured Paul pacing the room as he dictates his letters, sometimes getting caught up in the presence of and knowledge of God, sometimes aggrieved by the situations he is addressing.
Based on 2 Corinthians 12:1-6 it certainly seems possible that he may be indicating he had a supernatural vision or ecstatic experience. In whatever way he "went", he approached the Father, the Source, the Top Guy. He felt confident that he could go to the Father and be heard. Paul is not a thief in the night trying to sneak in through the back door. He went straight to the CEO, no middle managers or supervisors for him. He went to the Father as any son would ordinarily do. Paul knows who he is and whom to approach with his request. He's confident.
And what is his prayer request for the group in Ephesus? In this case it is not for the Father to give something new; it is for God to let them see what they already have been given; i.e., the Father's glory and favor and the unlimited riches that they represent. God's glory and favor in us are unlimited riches. I believe the next few sentences help us to understand what Paul means by glory and favor: the "life of Christ", the "resting place of his love", the "love of Christ", "endless love beyond measurement that transcends our understanding". These are the things that Paul prays will be unveiled within us. They are already within us. But perhaps they need to be unveiled so that we can see them.
Do we see these riches in our life? If not, we can ask God to unveil his glory and favor in us. We can participate in and benefit from Paul's prayer for the church in Ephesus.
#St.Paul #Paul #Prayer #Ephesians
Many people come to Washington, DC, every four years for the inauguration of the President. They don't attend the concert. They don't have tickets to the swearing in. They don't line the parade route. When asked, they are not pro-Republican or pro-Democrat. They are pro-Jesus and they are here to pray. Some come before the election and are back again before the inauguration. Others just come once. They may be here a few days or a week.
You may find them walking around the White House, the Capitol, or the Supreme Court buildings, heads bowed, arms raised. These people don't make the news. What they do is not exciting or glamorous. Instead they are often cold and wet, even bedraggled.
Paul spoke of this very type of prayer in his exhortation to Timothy (! Timothy 2:1-4). We should note that we are to pray for our leaders. We are not to pray against them nor at them. Our prayers should not be a veiled message of what we think they should do. We are to pray "intercessions and thanksgivings" for them. Why? So that we "may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity", and because God wants "everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth."
Whether we are called to pray in DC or to pray from where we are, let us remember to pray for our leaders, for their salvation and for them to know the truth. Let us do so with thanksgiving no matter how we voted.
For Reflection: If our new year's resolutions have fallen by the wayside, perhaps a good resolution would be to pray for one member of government each day.
Let us pray. Lord Jesus, I thank you for all of our elected leaders at the federal, state and local level. If they don't know you, I ask that you send someone to tell them about you and to introduce them to the good news of salvation. I thank you for their hard work, their giving of themselves, their time, their lives. Grant them wisdom to govern as you yourself would. Help them to enact just laws and to keep our land at peace.
I also thank you, Jesus, for those who have been upholding our government in prayer for many years. Give them the strength and determination to continue.
One way to pray is to make the Scriptures our own by putting them in the first person so that we see how they apply to us. Today let us do that with Psalm 91, the great Psalm of God's protection.
God, you are my refuge, my fortress, my God in whom I trust. You will save me from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. You will cover me with your feathers and under your wings I will find refuge. Your faithfulness will be my shield and rampart. I will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. Although a thousand may fall at my side, ten thousand at my right hand, it will not come near me. I will only observe with my eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.
I make the Most High my dwelling – the Lord, who is my refuge – and no harm will befall me, no disaster will come near my tent. He will command his angels concerning me to guard me in all my ways. They will lift me up in their hands so that I do not strike my foot against a stone. I will tread upon the lion and the cobra; I will trample the great lion and the serpent.
Because I love the Lord He will rescue me. He will protect me because I acknowledge his name. I will call upon him and he will answer me. He will be with me in trouble. He will deliver me and honor me. He will give me long life and salvation.
The last of the spiritual works of mercy is controversial to many Christians. Praying for the living is OK with all Christians, but not all believe in praying for the dead. Praying for the dead is too complicated to get into with these short meditations, so let's concentrate on praying for the living.
Most of the time in this blog we pray for ourselves to become better followers of Christ. I think that is the most easily answered prayer. When we pray for ourselves we know that we are doing this of our own free will and we really desire to have that prayer answered. When praying for someone else, we may not know where they stand on the issue about which we are praying. Take for example, praying for someone to be healed of a physical ailment. If we know that the person truly wants healing then we are not praying against that person's free will. But if the person does not want to be healed what would be the point of our prayer? Do we want to ask God to heal the person in spite of what that person wants? And would God do that?
When we want to intercede for someone, it might be best to find out what the person in need really desires. If we can agree with that, a mighty prayer can be offered. "Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them" (Matthew 18:19-20).
I think the catch is finding two or more people who really agree in prayer. At times when a group has prayed for one particular person, I have asked the individuals in the group afterward "What specifically did you pray?" It turned out that none of them prayed for the same thing. There was no agreement in prayer.
We are looking at how Jesus began to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah which he read in the temple in Nazareth (Luke 4:16-21). He has been preaching the good news to the poor (financially poor and spiritually poor), he has been healing people and working other miracles. Now it is time for him to choose a team who can help him with doing this work of God.
Alone Jesus cannot cover enough ground, even in one country, to make a big difference and spread the word as far as he wants it to go. He needs help (Luke 6:12-16). His next step is to spend the night in prayer. That's a long time to pray about one thing. I don't know about you, but I don't very often spend the night in prayer. But as you read through the Gospels, you see that Jesus spent a lot of time in prayer, often late at night or early in the morning when he could get away from the crowds.
After the night of prayer, Jesus didn't choose just any 12 men. He chose from among those who had been with him consistently, who knew his basic message, and who had seen his miracles. Even with the choice of Judas, who ultimately betrayed him, I believe he selected the men his Father wanted him to name.
This short passage can teach us a couple of things: the importance of prayer before important decisions, or developing a team rather than trying to go about God's work alone. But it also causes me to think about those who were not chosen. What happened to them? Were they fine with Jesus' selection or were they jealous and disgruntled? What did Jesus say to them to smooth things over?
For Reflection: Have I been passed over, not chosen for a team before? Was I the last one chosen for a team in school? Was I turned down for a date? Was I passed over for a job? Let us forgive the person(s) who did not choose us and pray a blessing for them.
Let us pray. Jesus, there have been times when I was not chosen, when I was overlooked. I choose now to forgive that person(s) for not choosing me. And I ask you to heal the memory of the rejection in me and pour out a special blessing on that person today.
Jesus is in the house! As we saw in yesterday's post, in Luke's Gospel, Jesus' standing up and reading from Isaiah in the synagogue is the beginning of Jesus' public ministry. He then goes out to start fulfilling Isaiah's prophecy, as he said he would do. He teaches with authority (Luke 4:31-32, 36); he frees a man possessed by a demon (4:33-35); he heals many people (4:38-41); he preaches the good news to all who would listen (4:42-44).
Jesus does not ask us to do anything for which he did not give us an example. And just as he did not do things in his own strength, he does not want us to do things on our own strength. He had the authority of the Father and the power of the Spirit to preach, to free, to heal. He prayed before he began his ministry, he prayed all during his ministry, he continues to intercede for us before the Father (Romans 8:34).
For Reflection: If Jesus needed to pray, how much more so do I need to pray?
Let us pray. Jesus, you set the example. You laid out the mission. You showed us how to accomplish it - through our prayer, with the authority of the Father, empowered by the Holy Spirit and your own intercession. It is in partnership with you that we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). You are the source, the holy one.
I started this website and blog on May 1, 2012. I am a Catholic who has been in ministry for many years. I first developed what I would call a close relationship with Jesus in the early 1970s. Ever since then I have been praying with people for healing and other needs. It is because I have seen so many of these prayers answered that I am so bold as to offer to pray for you individually through this website and phone line.