PFOA: Ephesians 1:15-23

“I do not cease giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers”
Eph 1:16 (ESV)

Some time back we reflected on the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6. There we have Jesus’ instructions to His disciples on how to pray. In our passage today, we will learn how Paul prayed for the church (or saints, v.1) at Ephesus.

As we had seen previously, this letter to the church at Ephesus was probably written as a circular letter to be read by other churches in the area, hence there are not the usual personal greetings found in his other letters. As he had spent extended time with them, there is no doubt that he knew some intimately, others perhaps less so. Nevertheless we see him praying for all of them.

Let’s notice first Paul’s attitude towards praying for this church. In 1 Thess. 5 we are encouraged to “pray without ceasing” and “in everything give thanks” (vv. 17,18). Here in verse 16 he said, “I have not stopped giving thanks …” (NIV). What Paul did not say was “every time I remember you, I pray for you”; it is “when I pray, I remember you, I pray for you and I give thanks for you”. And Paul kept on praying for the church, “I keep asking … I pray also …” (v.17,18 (NIV)).

The Ephesian church was not a perfect church. In Rev 2, we find that she continued to be doctrinally sound, did not tolerate false teachers, worked hard in service and suffered much, but within the lifetime of the apostles, she lost her “first love”. Still Paul’s attitude was one of thanksgiving, for there was a witness to gospel and a church that glorified God in that city.

Ephesus was the city that where Paul was thrown into prison. This was the place where after a period of ministry, the city rioted under the instigation of Demetrius and the other silversmiths and made Paul’s presence untenable. The church too suffered hardship and persecution. It faced tremedous civic and commercial opposition from the local cultural and religious activists.

What was Paul’s prayer for the church? That the church, i.e. the people in it, may have:

  • a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him (v.17);
  • know what is the hope to which he has called you (v.18);
  • what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints (v.18);
  • what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe (v.19).

Reading, studying, hearing messages, discussions can give us a tremendous amount of information about God, but only the Holy Spirit can reveal Him, and give us wisdom to truly know God. And when we truly know God, we can appreciate, apprehend, rely on, and trust in the glorious hope and inheritance that are ours, and the great power we can now have for our daily living.

This is what Paul prayed for the church. This is how we should pray for our churches too.

This is how we should pray for one another.