Prayer is the life line of Christian experience for it connects God and man. The Bible quotes several instances where devout men and women prayed and these serve as guidelines for believers on the technicalities of prayer. The Apostle Paul was not only an exemplary witness to Christ but also a prayer warrior whose intercessions have laid down a pattern to be assimilated into a believerís prayer life. His prayer for the Church at Ephesus is a classic example of Paulís profound intercessions.
Paul pens a letter to the Ephesians while imprisoned at Rome. Though curtailed in prison, Paul continues his ministry through writing encouraging letters and incessant prayers. As a result of Paulís missionary journeys, several new congregations sprung up in and around Ephesus and Paul writes this letter as a circular note to benefit all assemblies.
It is important to note that Paul was not personally associated with all these congregations, however he had heard of their faith in Christ and their love for the saints. (Eph 1:15) This presents a rather interesting setting for the prayer that follows. Paul was praying for Christian believers, not unbelievers. While very often intense prayers made for the conversion of souls ends when those prayed for turned to Christ, Paul found the faith of the believers a reason to engage in passionate prayer. Paul understood the need for prayer support for these budding blossoms in Godís garden.
With a heart of thanksgiving, Paul launches out to pray on behalf of the believers at Ephesus for,
ēA spirit if wisdom to know God
ēA heart flooded with light to know and understand the hope of Godís calling and the richness of the inheritance in the saints, eternal life
ēTo know and understand the immeasurable, unlimited and surpassing greatness of God in displaying His power by raising Christ from the dead, seating Him in heavenly places, putting all things under His feet and appointing Him the universal and supreme head of the church, His body.
Simply put, Paul pleads with God for the believers to have wisdom, know their hope in Christ and understand the greatness of God. It is interesting to note that Paul did not pray for believersí health, family, wealth, comfort or even courage to face persecution. However, Paul prayed for the most essential aspects of Christian living which are found in a believerís intimate walk with God. With such spiritual nourishment, a believer is well equipped to face any challenge in his temporary life on earth.
Paulís prayer is a stark contrast to most prayers in todayís Christian experience. Think of your own prayer life. Who do you pray for? Have you stopped praying for someone you once prayed for? Someone who heard Godís call and obeyed? Has this person fallen off your prayer list just because he is now a believer?
If you pray for fellow believers, what do you pray about? Safety? Security? Finance? Family? Ministry? All these are certainly important earthly needs for believers. Did you realize that crowding your prayers with these needs chokes out your friendís higher need for spiritual nourishment? When you commit your friends in Christ to know Godís wisdom, their hope in Christ and His boundless might, He will along with these meet every earthy need as well.
Here are two books on prayer for further reading
Buy 'Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference?' by Philip Yancey from the Amazon Bookstore
Buy 'The Prayers of St. Paul' by W. H. Griffith from the Amazon Bookstore