Scripture: Ephesians 1:15-23
Praises and petitions are very closely connected and are often offered together, as we see here in the opening of the Epistle to the Ephesians.
After the opening praise to God, Paul moved on to a prayer for his readers. While it must have brought tremendous joy to Paul when he heard about the Ephesians’ coming to Christ or remaining in faith in Christ, that was not the end of the story. Paul wrote and told them that he had never stopped praying for them.
The prayer itself is another long sentence (yes, one sentence) in the Bible and goes from verse 15 to verse 23.1 As in structuring the long praise before, it is also helpful to see the main division of this long prayer as it will give us a much clearer picture of what Paul was praying for his readers. Based on the context, the prayer can be outlined this way:2
- I give thanks for your faith in Jesus and your love toward the saints.
- I pray that God will help you to know him (even) better.
And the sentence continues with description of what Paul means by knowing God better. We will get to the details and add them to the outline in later articles, but I hope that the outline will give you a clearer overview to the passage and a sense that the section is not difficult to understand.3
Note that verse 15 starts with “for this reason.” This indicates that this section is not independent of the previous section (the long praise). We are reminded that our faith in the Lord and the love that we have toward others are results of our spiritual blessing, and for that we shall forever give our praises to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
As this section is not a direct teaching but a prayer, we ought to be reminded to pray to God as well. For ourselves, thank God for his blessing that we may come to him. Pray that we will continue to know him more and more. For our fellow Christians, especially for those who have come to the Lord recently, we thank God for their faith, and pray that they will continue to grow in the Lord and that God will indeed guide them to know him even more!
“For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all his people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that can be invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” (Ephesians 1:15-23 TNIV)
- Of course division of chapters and verses are not in the original Bible. They serve only as an aid. I am using it here to roughly indicate length. ↩
- This is often called an exegetical outline as it is an outline based on analysis (exegesis) of the text. Outlining like this is often needed because sometimes the structure of a message cannot be seen directly/clearly from parsing a sentence, especially when the sentence is translated from one language to another. For example, in the original Greek, the second part of the prayer says “I do not stop… making remembrance of you in my prayers in order that God… may give you a Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the true knowledge of his.” If we shortened this statement based on grammar, the main clause would be “I do not stop making remembrance of you.” This statement would not be clear for most people. Even if it was translated to “I do not stop remembering you,” it would still not be a clear statement for outlining purposes because the main thought here is not Paul’s remembering of them but his prayer for them. ↩
- Whether we truly see it with the “eyes of our heart” as Paul prayed is another matter, however. ↩