Yesterday we took a look at how Jesus prayed for us. Today we are going to look at how the Apostle Paul prayed for us. Now, this one is not as direct as the prayer we find from Jesus in John 17 because, in that prayer, Jesus is specifically praying for all of us who would believe in the future. In looking at the prayers of the Apostle Paul, we know that he is praying specifically for certain churches he oversees, but he also prays for all believers. He doesn’t specifically pray for future believers, but he certainly models for us how he prays for believers he would never meet. His prayer was for them but should not be limited to the first century in which he lived. That is part of the reason his writings were preserved and passed along to churches throughout the world.
We know that the instructions that the Apostle Paul gives have an application for believers in a modern context. I have yet to hear anyone make the case that 1 Corinthians 13 (the love chapter) was only expected of the first-century followers of Jesus but doesn’t apply to 21st-century believers. Why? Because these truths were retained because they apply to every believer in every generation. What if we made the same assumption about his prayers for all believers? In his letter to the church in Ephesus, he describes his prayer for all believers.
For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. – Ephesians 1:15–19
First, the Apostle Paul gives thanks for those who have come to faith that he didn’t lead to faith personally. He is grateful for God’s work of salvation. For him to know that there would one day be believers in a part of the world he didn’t even know existed reading this letter; his gratitude would have even greater.
Second, he not only expresses gratitude without ceasing; he also KEEPS asking for something. For us to have all our material needs met? Maybe, but that isn’t what he writes in this letter. Instead, he says that his constant prayer is that God would give believers the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that we may KNOW GOD BETTER! Our mission as a church is to love and lead people in a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. We are not satisfied that you know something about Jesus but that you actually get to know Him better and better and better. Do you pray for the same thing?
Third, he prays that the “eyes of your hearts may be enlightened so that we may know the hope to which he has called you.” I don’t know about you, but my heart doesn’t have any eyes. That is because he isn’t talking about our physical hearts. Rather, he is speaking of that decision making place at the heart of who we are. This is a reminder that our hearts, even our renewed hearts, don’t have great vision. In 1 Corinthians 13, he says we “see dimly.” And why do we need to see clearly? Because when we do, we see the hope to which we were called. The hope that God is with us has a plan for us and has a home waiting for us with Him. God also has power for us.
When you pray for daily bread, don’t forget the bread that reminds you to be grateful for your salvation and others’ salvation. When you pray, you pray that you and others would know God better. And you also pray that God would open the blind and dimly seeing eyes of your heart so that you can know hope and have power.
Now that is some nourishing bread!