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Pray without Ceasing

9/24 – Constant Prayer (Ephesians 1:15-23)

 

Introduction — Here Paul lets the church know why and what he’s praying for them. He’s thanking God for them. Paul prays for them because he knows of their faith in the Lord Jesus and their love for one another. Paul prays that God, the Father of glory, may give them a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. He prays that they see the wonder of God’s work. Paul prays that they will know (1) the hope of His calling, (2) the riches of His glorious inheritance, and (3) the surpassing greatness of His power. Paul wants them to know mighty work of God through Christ. Paul wants them to know the majesty of Christ. Paul prays they know that Christ is above all powers and all people. Christ is above all for all time. Paul prays that the church of Ephesus know that God the Father put all things in subjection under Christ’s feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.  Paul offers constant, thankful prayer to God on their behalf. Paul prays simply. Paul prays powerfully. Paul prays boldly. How about us? Do we pray without ceasing? Do we pray with thankful hearts to God? Do we pray simple prayers? Do we pray powerful prayers? Do we pray bold prayers? Do we pray for one another?

 

Faith in the Lord Jesus and love for His church is cause for thanks. To hear of such faith and love in others should lead us to offer constant prayer to God on their behalf. We can pray bold prayers to God. We can pray like this . . . may God give you wisdom to know Him better.

 

God, may this church know the hope of Your calling.

18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling,

 

Comment: Here Paul states his heart for the church. He asks God to give them a spirit of wise insight into the true knowledge of God. And even though they know God through the grace of God by faith in the Son of God, Paul asks that they grow to know God better. Paul wants them to know the hope of God’s calling. And what is the hope of that calling? The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . chose us in Him before the foundation of the world . . . in love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved (1:3-6). The members of the church in Ephesus were formerly separate from Christ. They were dead in trespasses and sins. They indulged the desires of the flesh. They were by nature children of wrath. They were far off strangers, having no hope and without God in the world. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love, made them alive together with Christ (2:1-19). And Paul is praying that they know the hope they now have in God who loves them, who chose them who calls them to life in Christ. Application: Let’s thank God for His gracious work in us. Let’s offer constant prayer to God for one another. Let’s ask God to give us all a spirit of wisdom to know Him better. Let’s pray that we know and keep on knowing the hope of His calling.

 

God, may this church know the riches of Your inheritance.

18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 

 

Comment: Here Paul notes the second desired result of his prayer. He wants them to know God better so that they will grasp the riches of the glory of His inheritance. And by God’s grace, theirs is a rich inheritance, indeed. By God’s grace, theirs is a wondrous treasure. As Paul points out, by God’s grace, those who are in Christ now have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us (1:7-8). Further, God made us alive together with Christ . . . and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus, in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace toward us in Christ Jesus (2:5-7). Redemption, forgiveness of sins, new life in Christ, the promise of eternal life, the grace, love, and mercy of God, all these and ten thousand more comprise the unfathomable riches  (3:8) of God through Christ. And that is their inheritance. And that is what Paul wants them to know and keep on knowing. Application: Let’s thank God for His gracious work in us. Let’s offer constant prayer to God for one another. Let’s ask God to give us all a spirit of wisdom to know Him better. Let’s pray that we know and keep on knowing the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.

 

God, may this church know the greatness of Your power.

18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might 20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

 

Comment: Here Paul notes the third desired result of his prayer. He wants them to know God better so that they will know the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. It seems that Paul really wants them to understand God’s power. Paul reminds them that the immeasurable greatness of His power is according to the working of His great might. It’s the working of His great might that He worked in Christ. It’s the working of His great might that He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places. The believers know God’s power in and through Christ who is far above all powers and all names for all time.  To know the power of God in and through Christ is to know infinite, victorious, sovereign power. The God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. To know the power of God in and through Christ is to know overwhelming and overflowing power. Question: Do you know the power of God? Do you the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe? Do you know the riches of His glorious inheritance? Do you know the hope of His calling? Do you know God? Do you want to know God better? Do you see God’s gracious work in us?  Application: Let’s thank God for His gracious work in us. Let’s offer constant prayer to God for one another. Let’s ask God to give us all a spirit of wisdom to know Him better. Let’s pray that we know and keep on knowing the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. Let’s offer constant prayer to God. Let’s pray. Then let’s pray some more. And then let’s pray some more. Let’s pray. Let’s pray. Let’s pray.

Word Study for Ephesians 1:15-23

15 ­having heard (akouo—hear; obey; be able to hear; receive news; pay attention)[1]

16 cease (pauo—stop; cease; make to cease; cause to cease; hinder; quell)

16 making (poieo—do; make; cause to be; work)

16 mention (mneia—remembrance; memory; think)

17 knowledge (epignosis—to possess information; content of what is known; recognition; true knowledge)

18 enlightened (photizo—teach; illuminate; shine upon; make known; bring to light)

18 know (oida—understand; remember; honor; see; to perceive)

19 surpassing (hyberballo—be far more; outbid; be much greater; to throw over or beyond)

20 brought about (energeo—work; produce; be in action; bring about; operate; effective work)

21 far above (hyperano—above, as a location; above, as a status)

21 all (pas—every; any; total; whole; every kind of)

22 put in subjection (hypotasso—bring under control; make subordinate; place or rank under)

22 church (ekklesia—congregation; gathering of persons for a purpose; assembly)

23 fullness (pleroma—full measure; contents; completeness; total quantity)

 

Application for Ephesians 1:15-23

Let’s marvel at the scope of the Father’s love.

Let’s see the hope we have in Christ.

Let’s praise God who seals those who believe in Christ with the Holy Spirit of promise.

Let’s thank God for one another, and let’s pray for one another.

Let’s pray that God helps us see the hope of His calling.

Let’s pray that God helps us see the riches of His inheritance.

Let’s pray that God gives helps us see the surpassing greatness of His power.

 

Gospel Connections for Ephesians 1:15-23

Jesus is Lord. Jesus is Messiah. Jesus is the hope of those who believe in Him. Through Jesus, the Father’s beloved, we have redemption. Through His blood, we have forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. Through faith in the Lord Jesus, we can give thanks to God. We can pray for one another. We can ask God to enlighten the eyes of our hearts, so that we can know the hope of His calling. We can ask God to help us see the riches of His inheritance. We can ask God to help us see the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. By the power of God, Christ is alive, raised from the dead. By the power of God, Christ is seated at the Father’s right hand. Christ is far above all powers and all people for all time. Christ is the head of the church, His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

 

Thoughts and Quotes for Ephesians 1:15-23

God helps those who cannot help themselves. ~ Charles H. Spurgeon

 

If prayer stands as the place where God and human beings meet, then I must learn about prayer. Most of my struggles in the Christian life circle around the same two themes: why God doesn't act the way we want God to, and why I don't act the way God wants me to. Prayer is the precise point where those themes converge. ~ Philipp Yancey

 

The ministry of prayer, if it be anything worthy of the name, is a ministry of ardor, a ministry of unwearied and intense longing after God and after his holiness. ~ E.M. Bounds

 

Nothing tends more to cement the hearts of Christians than praying together. Never do they love one another so well as when they witness the outpouring of each other's hearts in prayer. ~ Charles Finney

 

Prayer is not supposed to be all we do - it's just supposed to undergird all we do. Prayer is not supposed to be just the first thing we do, but the first, second, fourth, seventh, and final thing we do in each circumstance. ~ Leslie Ludy, Wrestling Prayer

Commentary for Ephesians 1:15-23

How great is this power that is working within the lives of Christians? Sometimes believers feel so impotent. They see themselves as spiritual failures because the power of the flesh is so great, the temptations of this world so overwhelming, and their progress so slim. The answer to this outlook is to understand the greatness of this power. The power within us is the same as that which God used when he raised Christ from death and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly world. In other words, Paul is referring to the work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit not only raised Jesus from the dead, he raised him to the seat of cosmic authority in the universe. He raised him not only from a tomb, but from this planet to the heavenly places where he is seated on high as the exalted Lord of heaven and earth.

Paul is stressing that, at this very moment, Christ reigns in heaven as the King over all heavenly rulers, authorities, powers, and lords. The Lord Jesus is above all titles of power in this world and the next. He has authority over kings, prime ministers and presidents, over every being, every angel, good or bad, even the archangels. God put all things under Christ’s feet for the church. He is now the supreme Lord over all things.

Christ has been appointed from the foundation of the world to be the head of the church. God has given to this One who is the head of all things, a body, which is the church. This is a very mystical and spiritual viewpoint.

The statement the fulness of him who fills everything in every way is very difficult to understand and it has occasioned tremendous discussion by New Testament scholars. To be honest with you, I don’t know anybody who can say with absolute certainty what Paul means here in this verse. He uses a loaded term and even adds a pun. He uses a term, a form of pleroma, which refers to the fullness of things.

Some interpret Paul as saying that Christ’s fullness is completed by the addition of the church to himself. As the body is given to the head, as the bridegroom receives the bride, so the church then fills up part of the plenitude of the very essence of Christ.

The other important view of this is simply to say that Christ fills the universe because he himself is the pleroma, the fullness of God. The fullness of God dwells in Jesus and, since Jesus permeates the whole scope of his dominions, out of that fullness, he draws to himself the church. And so in a secondary sense, the church participates in the blessing of being linked to the one in whom resides all fullness.

Either way, fullness is a loaded term with respect to spiritual reality. Elsewhere, Scripture makes it very clear that the fullness of divine things dwells in Christ (Colossians 2:9) and that the church is his mystical body (1 Corinthians 12:27; Ephesians 4:12). And the Spirit in us is the benefit which we receive by being mystically united with Jesus in whom the fullness of all things dwells.[2]

 

Our hope is built on the promises which are ours in Christ. We need to know our spiritual future is based on the promises of God and find strength and courage in that hope to live in the present. To understand and embrace that hope in present living requires spiritual progress.

Paul also wants us to know our future riches. It is tempting to focus on our present need and poverty. Instead Paul challenges us to focus on what God has promised. These riches may refer to our present spiritual riches in Christ in being freed from sin and made ready for fellowship with God. They may also refer to our heavenly possession of the riches and glories of God. It’s likely both aspects are meant. Such riches are part of our inheritance.

Finally, Paul prays that we might be enlightened to comprehend the magnitude of God’s power which he exercised in bringing us our salvation. The power God demonstrated in raising Christ from the dead and placing him above all creation is the same power he is exercising toward us to bring about the blessings which he has promised us. Such power guarantees we will receive the hope and riches. That power is also available to us to make the hope and riches the focus of present life so that we live God’s way and not the world’s, seeking God’s inheritance and not the world’s.[3]

 



[1] Word studies from various sources on Logos Software, including, but not limited to Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains by James A. Swanson

[2] Sproul, R. C. (1994). The Purpose of God: Ephesians (pp. 41–42). Scotland: Christian Focus Publications.

[3] Anders, M. (1999). Galatians-Colossians (Vol. 8, p. 94). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.