Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen (NIV).
In Ephesians 6:5-7, Paul explains that obedient service is doing the will of God.
The sword of the spirit is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17).
I will be reflecting upon prayer in addition to my other study for the next 21 days.
My sense is that on some level I don’t believe that it makes a difference, or that my motivation is selfish, or that there’s some other block which makes me behave as though I believe that my prayers useless.
One powerful challenge is when people who are nonbelievers get through difficult times and say, “I did it, and I didn’t pray!” This is a valid criticism.
Coupled with the times that people do sincerely pray and don’t get the answer they are seeking, it makes prayer seem to me more like wishful thinking than anything more.
As I was putting my kids down to bed tonight, and I began to pray silently for each of them, Paul’s words in Ephesians 6 came to mind:
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (v. 12, NIV).
I believe that
many most people feel a sense of struggle and concern for themselves and their loved ones. This can be true of spiritual believers and nonbelievers alike.
Maybe the thing holding me back from praying more often is my focus on specific issues and not the bigger picture of evil (or lack of wisdom) in our world.
If I really believed in the existence of ”the rulers,” ”the authorities,” ”the powers of this dark world”, and ”the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” that Paul writes about, then I think I would “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17, NASB, cf. Ephesians 6:18).
So ultimately, do I really believe in this stuff Paul is writing about, or do I believe that the world no longer has room for such superstitions?
I want to say that I really believe Paul, but my prayer life as I observe it today indicates otherwise.
Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love (Ephesians 6:24).
In the last part of Ephesians 4, Paul reminds us to live life well, with an aim to work both to provide for ourselves and to share with others.
One main idea from the next chapter, in Ephesians 3:6, is “that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.”
Paul reminds us of the human condition and connects this to what Jesus did for us.
Then he emphasizes that all humans, Jew and non-Jew, are now part of one human family.