prayer and the power of God

“God I know I have not studied like I should for this test, but by some miracle help me to pass.”

“Father, I want to ring my sisters neck. If she says that one more time I will explode. Make her stop.”

“Father it would be really nice if you could come through with giving me this before I die.”

We are all guilty of making prayer a cosmic shopping list or a desperate 911 call to God to come to the rescue in our crisis. God is not Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Magic Genie, EMT or an Easy Button. Every wish is not granted or guaranteed. Would you march into your boss’s office or call on your parents for the things you ask of God?

Prayer is an amazing privilege. We can treat prayer like a broken gadget that hasn’t work for years, which we pawned off for chump change. Instead of praying, it has been substituted by worried wishes or momentary freak out. Seldom do people pray.

Prompted to Pray [Ephesians 1:15-16]

What prompts Paul to pray? What two things did He hear about the believers within Ephesus? Paul observes how the Ephesian believers are living out their faith in Christ with one another. There is nothing more excited than hearing about people they know love God and others. Nothing fires your parents, friends, or pastor up like living your faith out loud for all to hear. What do others hear about you?

Your upward relationship [“faith in Christ”] with God is also seen in your outward relationship [“love towards all believers”] with other believers.

This is How to Pray for Each Other [Ephesians 1:17-19]

Paul prays that God would give believers “a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him.” Even though believers inherit all the spiritual blessings upon salvation, it is not assumed that they cease needing to grow in wisdom and understanding of God. If Warren Buffet or Bill Gates gave you everything they own would that mean you would cease to learn about life? God does not give believer’s omnipotence or omniscience, nor will He ever. Throughout eternity we will be learning and growing in our understanding of God. Paul prays that we would keep praising and thanking God for all His spiritual blessings. As one commentator says,

God has already been praised for having lavished his grace upon us with all wisdom and understanding by making known to us the mystery of his will [vs.8-9]. Now the apostle takes up this language and asks that his readers may be given the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him [i.e. God] better. [1]

I find it interesting that Paul does not pray that they would have more spiritual blessings or fresh ones. He understands that they already have all the spiritual blessings in Christ. People today are obsessed with the notion of receiving additional blessings. Some pray to God, “Father bless me.” It is as if we say to God, “These spiritual blessings in Christ aren’t enough. Gimme, gimme, gimme, I need, I need, I need.” We have equated blessing with an excess of material possessions, emotional happiness, health and wealth, and lack of suffering. That is spoiled rotten Christianity. You should not crave or pray for more spiritual blessings, you have all you need and more in Christ. Be thankful.

Many believers have heard the message of the gospel various times in various ways. The gospel has become common, and what becomes can become callus or cocky. We can become like a collegiate math major who has forgotten the joy of elementary building blocks like 1 + 1. To which the student replies, “Yeah, give me something I don’t know.” What does Paul pray as a cure for the common spiritual callousness? He desires them to know “the hope to which God has called them,” “the rich inheritance,” which He possesses in them, and “the immeasurable greatness of His power” by which He energizes them. Each is an aspect of the mighty salvation, which has been championed for you in Christ. Paul is overwhelmed by the glory of salvation and He wants you to be too, therefore that is his prayer for you.

Plugged into the Power of God [Ephesians 1:20-23]

Paul prays that the believers in Ephesus would know the immeasurable greatness of God’s power. How is God’s power immeasurably great? Paul’s prayer exalts the supremacy of God’s power, which is shown particularly in Christ’s resurrection and current position of authority [“seated at God’s right hand”] over all things. Since God has superior power there is no longer any reason for the readers to fear.

One cannot calculate or measure the power of God in kilowatts, amps, volts, or energy waves. It does matter how many pounds He could lift on the bench press or putdowns He would have in an arm wrestling competition. God’s power is immeasurable. In other words, He is omnipotent. By the word of His power He created all things and holds them together, and by His power He raised Jesus and gave authority over all things then, now and forevermore [cf. Colossians 1:15-20]. God has given Christ as head over all things for the church. God’s power in Christ is available for those who believe [v.19], and Christ’s rule over the universe is for their benefit [v.22].

The power of God that we are plugged into brings an immense amount of comfort. I do not have to struggle in my sin anymore; in Christ, I am free. I do not have to worry or fear the future. I don’t have to fear the bully at school. I don’t have to worry about whether or not I will lose my job or home. I don’t have to lose sleep about the safety of my children. God is powerful. Christ is seated high on the throne. He is in control.

Prayer is a mighty vehicle for the believer to praise God and encourage the saints. When considering our salvation we cannot help but pray that others would hear how great is our God. Probably some of the people God has burden you to pray for are members of your family or close friends. Why not share together what you have been praying with them?

Peter Thomas O’Brien, The Letter to the Ephesians, The Pillar New Testament commentary (Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1999), 131.


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