PFOA: Praying Paul's Priorities from Ephesians (Eph 1:15-21)
The "Pray For One Another" (PFOA) was started about 10 years ago to encourage members to pray for each other. Included usually was a number of names to pray for. In this way every member of the church would be remembered before the LORD over a year. When this list was first given, someone asked "What's wrong with them? Are they sick, or in need?" Very often we resort to prayer only where there are critical needs or crises.
It is true that "to pray" is "to ask", so Jesus promised in John 16:24 "Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be made full", and in John 14:13 "And whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son". Take a moment to think of what you've prayed for recently in your personal devotions, during the worship service in church, or at a prayer meeting. If there were the prayer points presented, what were they?
In the Ephesians 1 passage, Paul tells us how he prayed for the members of that church. For the church in Colossae, we read "We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints; ... For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light", Col. 1:3-4, 9-12.
With the exception of a few, Paul only knew the members of the Colossian church second-hand through Epaphras. He had learnt some things from what was reported by Epaphras and that was enough for him to "always prayed for them". From the context of the whole letter, we know that the church was facing strong pressure to conform to the surrounding social and moral values and culture. It was by no means perfect, as their members were converted from a idolatrous and worldly background. It was a multi-ethnic church and there were racial tensions. But Paul did not tackle these issues directly. Instead he prayed that:
- They have spiritual wisdom and understanding;
- Their lives are worthy of their calling as believers, pleasing to God and fruitful;
- They will know God better and better;
- They be strong in service; steadfast in faith; patient in suffering; and joyful in thanksgiving.
This is the way we can pray for one another.