Thursday, 20 March 2014

How to pray for Christians - part 2

This is a continuation of last week's post about the apostle Paul's two prayers for Christians in his letter to the Ephesians. In the previous post. we considered his first prayer found in Ephesians 1:15-23 and we saw that it was mainly a prayer for Christians to be built up in their knowledge of God.

But Paul does not leave it there. In his second prayer, we now see that he also wants this knowledge of God to be worked out practically in their lives. Let us take a look at what he says in Ephesians 3:14-19:

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,
15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,
16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,
17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith- that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

In this second prayer in Ephesians, Paul prays five things for Christians. We, too, can pray these things for other Christians (and also for ourselves!):

  1. That God will strengthen them with power (3:16)
    Not just to know God's power as in his previous prayer (1:19) but to actually live in this power. Just as Jesus lived His life on earth and acted in the power of the Holy Spirit, so we as Christians also need to live in the power of the Spirit. We are too weak in our own strength, but God can strengthen us with His power so that we are strong in the faith.
  2. That Christ may dwell in their hearts (3:17)
    As we know from other parts of Scripture, the Lord Jesus Christ already lives inside of Christians. But is He really "at home" there? Jesus said, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him." (John 14:23)
  3. That they may be rooted and grounded in love (3:17)
    Being rooted in love means receiving nourishment from love in order to grow. And the more we are rooted in love, the more we will be grounded in love, i.e. become more stable and secure and able to endure and withstand many storms and trials.
  4. That they may know the love of Christ (3:18-19)
    For a proper understanding of what love is, we must look to Christ. We will never be able to understand the immense greatness of His love, but the more we know the love of Christ, the more we will know how to share this love with other people.
  5. That they may be filled with all the fullness of God (3:19)
    Finally, Christians are to be as much like God as possible. In some ways, Christians will never be like God, because God is unique - there is nobody who is like Him. He alone is almighty, all-knowing and present everywhere. He is perfect and holy and worthy like nobody else. But as followers of Christ, all Christians are to be like the Son of God. All Christians are to reflect the character of God in their lives: holy, righteous, loving, merciful, gracious, compassionate, faithful and much more. Christians need prayer not only to better know these characteristics of God but also to live them out better in their own lives.
When we pray for other Christians, it is always good and helpful to return to these two prayers of Paul in Ephesians in order to pray for those things that Christians really need more than anything else.


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