Prayer, Power and Potential

Ephesians 1:15-23

Paul continues his opening of this letter by moving on from the glorious things he has been saying about our redemption into giving thanks for it. Yet as we continue reading this section, I’m sure that you, like me can’t help but notice the contrast this prayer of thanksgiving has with the ones we usually hear today.

It would be useful for us to notice here that things aren’t going particularly well in Paul’s life; at least not on the surface, for he is sitting in prison as he writes. So, there he is, a prisoner, and do you see a single word about his situation?

No, not a single word; Paul is giving thanks for the Ephesians and their growth in the faith.

Beginning with verse 17, he tells us of his prayers that the Ephesians will grow in their understanding, that they will know God better, that they will know the riches of “the hope to which he has called you.” As he continues his thought, Paul does an amazing thing; he brings it all back to the church, His Body.

He mentions the “riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people” and how, by the same great and mighty power with which God raised Jesus from the dead, the power that not only raised Him from the dead, but that placed Him in authority above every power, is being used for the benefit of His people both now and in times to come. How does God do this? He does it by using that awesome power not just to put Jesus over every authority and power, but to make Him the “head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. “

Did you catch “for the church?”

Why was Jesus placed above every power and authority? For the benefit of the church; His Body.

Think about that… Here is this guy Paul sitting in jail awaiting trial because he preached the gospel. His trial will take place in front of Nero of all people, and he is boldly telling the Ephesians about this hope that Jesus is above all authority “for the church”.

Paul understands, as most today do not, that what becomes of him is of little account, for God Almighty is fully engaged to accomplish His purpose through the church and no matter how things might appear on this earth, He does not intend  to fail. Thus, the very same awesome power that raised Jesus from the dead and elevated Him to the highest of all high places will ensure that our inheritance in Christ will be realized; the issue is not in doubt.

Indeed it shames me when I think about the prayers I hear today, prayers for this and that little thing, prayers for comfort and ease, prayers for an easy life, and it shames me even more when I think about how often the voice I hear praying these prayers is my own. Just think, dear reader, of the power that would be unleashed if we approached prayer with the same attitude as that of Paul, who focused his attention on the purpose of the church, rather than upon his personal situation, who focused his thanksgiving and prayer upon the redemption and spiritual understanding  of others, rather than upon his own relief.

I can’t help but think that if we allowed ourselves a more mature orientation, that God would do even greater things through us for His purpose in the here and now.

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About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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14 Responses to Prayer, Power and Potential

  1. Pete says:

    I agree Don. As I have been studying Psalms and Philippians I have become keenly aware of how feeble my prayer life is compared to that of David and Paul. They display such passion, purpose and power in their prayers and writing. I know it is changing me into a better prayer person. I can only hope what I write in my blogs about these two studies challenges the reader as well! I’m sure you feel the same way!

  2. gaustin00 says:

    Ah so true. Pastor said much the same thing last night and the Spirit moved. Nearly the whole congregation went forward to pray and me? I just stood as if transfixed unable to move….it was surreal…scary. It so reminded me of the shallowness of my prayer life. Thanks for this post, time to pray for something bigger than myself.

  3. frcasper says:

    “Indeed it shames me when I think about the prayers I hear today, prayers for this and that little thing, prayers for comfort and ease, prayers for an easy life, and it shames me even more when I think about how often the voice I hear praying these prayers is my own.” Yes I echo

  4. Tom says:

    This is one I have been working on to change in my life and with my family. God’s ultimate purpose for every person is to know him and be known by Jesus and to spread the gospel message, not just a temporary fix of problems. Thanks for the post!

  5. I keep begging people to pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ–people who risk their life every day to be a Christian. Instead, I hear, “Be with the sick of our congregation, may our worship be acceptable, forgive us of our sins.” I tell these persecuted ones that churches in America have not forgotten them and are praying for them. But how much? How often? How caring?

    • Don Merritt says:

      An excellent point, sad to say. I ask churches to pray for the Gospel to move forward in their communities and throughout the world, with the same result. It seems that so many have lost all perspective.

  6. I am in a difficult situation at work. I and a number of other stable thirtysomething delivery drivers are currently taking orders from nineteen-year-old managers who are, frankly, in over their heads and not ready for the job. Yelling, crying, swearing, mistakes, ignoring mistakes, more yelling, and in one case, drug-withdrawal-induced meltdowns. In front of customers. They got their positions because they don’t have primary 40-hour-a-week jobs, whereas we adults do and therefore don’t want them. It’s an awkward situation for everyone.

    So this post of yours is a good reminder that my Christian friend and I should be focused less on the ongoing whirlwind and more on the potential of what Jesus could do through our witness. We feel like we’ve been given favor with those managers and with our fellow drivers, and we don’t want to spoil the opportuntiy by giving in to frustration and quitting (or having a bad witness).

    Thanks for this post, Don.

  7. Pingback: A Study in Ephesians by Don Merritt – the Life Project | franciscansonthemountains

  8. Pingback: Prayer, Power and Potential | A disciple's study

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