“that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him” (Ephesians 1:17)
Everyone has faith in something. And that belief shapes the way we live.
According to a spiritual gifts survey, my highest rank was faith. Why, then, can prayer feel so complicated at times? It doesn’t have to be. Yet, I often find myself rambling about people and problems (as if God doesn’t know), offering solutions for each situation. Ever been there?
Paul didn’t seem to have this problem. His prayer in Ephesians 1:15-23 is precise, giving thanks for the believers in Ephesus and praying for vision from the Lord that they would know God even more, spotlighting His love, power and authority. His introduction to “the God of our Lord Jesus, the Father of glory” (v.17) could be easily overlooked but let’s pause here instead. This is, for us, a valuable connection to our Master, showing God’s supreme authority over even Christ. Jesus Himself said (in John 14 and 20) “the Father is greater than I” and referred to God as “my Father…your Father”, “my God…your God”. Likewise, “Father of glory” comes from two Greek words, pater (generator) and doxa (majesty), indicating preeminence and splendor. What an insightful opening! Much like the template Jesus gave His disciples in what is commonly known as “The Lord’s Prayer”; God first, God focused. Powerful prayer begins with a lens of praise.
Verse 17 continues with two requests for the Ephesians: wisdom (the use of knowledge) and revelation of God (making the unknown visible). This does not refer to worldly wisdom or mere book learning. Paul was a wise man, schooled under the most honorable teacher of the law, Gamaliel. Yet, he previously worked against God, persecuting followers of the Way, believing himself righteous in doing so! That’s because seeing is not always believing. In a physical sense, maybe, but spiritual truths must be revealed by the Spirit (John 14:17). The Lord is the only One who can grant vision, as Paul discovered through that enlightening encounter on the Damascus Road. Before then, second-hand knowledge of Jesus did nothing but offend him. However, first-hand knowledge from God revealed a heightened hope, a crucial calling and an immeasurable inheritance. If the eyes of Paul’s heart had not been opened, he never would, or could, have prayed for those people in this way.
It’s clear Paul understood that his life and work were in God’s capable hands. He knew this because God showed Himself sovereign over and over. It wasn’t just that initial eye opening, but recurring revelation that held Paul’s heart reverent. His desire for the church in Ephesus was that they, too, would have first-hand faith to see the Lord’s: love, verifying their value; resurrection power, imparted to all believers; and, authority far above every name or rank in every realm, for all time. Christ is the reason we, the body, can function at all. Without the head, there is no life.
Interestingly, the church in Ephesus, whose faith and love were the impetus for Paul’s joyful prayer, is later known for losing its first love. How did that happen? How does it happen in any relationship? Lack of communication. They drifted. We know from James 2 that faith produces enjoyable work of grateful hearts. Love, on the other hand, is an enduring labor (just look at the cross). At the time of Paul’s writing, the people of Ephesus displayed both! Paul knew this was a work of the Holy Spirit. Hence, his request for enlightenment that they would know the hope of their calling, through God’s love, to continue serving.
Just as love prompts action, sight shapes service. Specifically, Paul prayed they would see “the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints”. That’s not speaking to our inheritance but God’s. And we, the saints, are it! “For the Lord’s portion is His people” (Deut. 32:8-9). God sees us as wealthy, worthy and wanted because of His transactions – the loan of His Son, canceling our debt – and the deposit of His Spirit, a guarantee for life. Oh, to glimpse the treasure we are in the eyes of the Almighty! He loved us first. Let us remain vessels of vision through the profitable power of prayer, allowing God to uncomplicate His work as we put Him first.