The Path of Prayer

If we are to pray aright, perhaps it is quite necessary that we pray contrary to our own heart. Not what we want to pray is important, but what God wants us to pray. The richness of the Word of God ought to determine our prayer, not the poverty of our heart.  ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer,  from Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible

Ephesians pic 1Paul was a man of prayer, and he makes a point of telling those he is praying for that he IS praying for them.  He often goes even further, enumerating the specifics of the prayer.   While I have often borrowed Paul’s prayer list, and in moments of great need and small brain simply prayed his words, I have grown to believe that a better approach is to read his prayers to discern from the richness of his prayer life how to pray.

In the last Echo From Ephesians, I wrote concerning the long parenthetical detour Paul made in Chapter 3.  Now, in verse 14, his phrasing “For this reason I kneel”, makes us look back over his shoulder.  What is the reason he prays?

He prays for us because we have been made alive in Christ, and because Christ Himself is our peace, and because through Christ our peace, both Jew and Gentile can be one. His heart’s desire that we would understand and operate as a unified body of believers causes Paul to fall on his knees and pray.  How often do I fall on my knees in prayer for church unity?

He emphasizes the importance of unity in stating that he prays to the “Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.”  “Every” means “all”, without any exception.  Paul is not writing about a universal Fatherhood of God.  He is reminding the church that positionally, all believers are one…and this includes believers from all ages, those already in heaven and those still on earth…we are all one.

What can I learn from the heart of this prayer warrior?

“I pray that according to His glorious riches…”

I learn that he prays “according to” God’s riches (v 16), and God’s power (v 20).  The term, “according to,” and not “out of,” means that he is praying that believers’ needs will be met in accordance, conforming to, in proportion to God’s own nature of generosity.  That is a richness greater than receiving an answer limited to a part of a treasure, it is access to all the treasure. It reminds me of what he wrote to the church at Philippi… “and my God will meet all your needs according the  riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”

“…He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being.”

I learn to pray for strength.  This is not for bigger muscles, no matter how much those are needed! It is prayer for a powerful inner life.   In Romans, Paul says the inner man is where the battle is waged.

I learn to pray for the Holy Spirit to be the agent of this work in my life.

“…so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.”

I learn to pray that Christ will dwell in my heart.  It is not a matter of Christ being in my life, but is Christ comfortable in my inner being.  Is He at home in my heart?

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge…”

I learn to pray about loving.

I can pray for a life that has roots in the terrain of love, and these roots will be the groundwork for a life of love.

I learn that praying for love involves praying for the church, and that all of the Lord’s holy people need to know a love greater than our ability to understand.

I learn to pray to be encompassed by a love without boundaries, yet indwelt by that same endlessness.  Amazing love, how can it be?

“…that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

I learn to pray for the fullness of God.

I can pray that my very finite being is filled with the vastness of God, that my dry sponge of a soul can be saturated from living waters that never run out.  This is a prayer of permeation, that every corner of my life be flooded by the Lord.

“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurable more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations, for ever and ever? Amen.”

How can these wondrous prayer requests be met in my life?

They can be met because the Lord is able.  He is able to do more than I can even think to ask about, more than I can ever imagine.  And our imagination can stretch far and wide. No matter how great my imagination, how profound my insights, or how mighty the strength of my need…He is able to do more!!!

Part 10 of “Echoes of Encouragement from Ephesians.” See Also: Always On My Mind

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About ccragamuffin

Christina C. is a woman energized by encouraging others. She never wants to forget that she is a ragamuffin...a broken earthen vessel, heavy laden, bedraggled, and weary until grace changed her life. She now holds a treasure in a cracked earthen vessel. Anything bright or beautiful is the treasure shining through the cracks.
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11 Responses to The Path of Prayer

  1. Pingback: A Question of Balance | Resting in His Grace

  2. Great post MT! There was a time when I prayed Paul’s prayer in Eph 1 before I would read the Bible: “that the Lord would grant to ME the Spirit of revelation and wisdom in the knowledge of HIM…the eyes of my understanding be enlightened to know the hope to which he has called me to, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his power for me…the same power that raised Jesus from the dead”…
    The remarkble thing was, as I prayed this prayer, I would see things in scriptures that I never saw before! I would share with others this revelation, they would just look at me like a bull-frog in a hail storm. I realized God was showing me something, not them. These were not new things by any means, no doctrines that were not already in church creed, i.e. Nicene, or Apostle’s. But my understanding of God and His purpose in man.
    God responds to His Word. I have looked into the patriarch prayers, as well as the early church leaders. In those prayers, mainly Daniel and Nehemiah, are powerful prayers of repentance that are not there just for our reading, but for our direction as how to approach God in prayer for forgiveness. Great reading Michael!

    • ccragamuffin says:

      Thank you S. Keith Barnes! This is Christina. MT has graciously allowed me to guest write on his blog until I develop my own corner of the blog world.

      Your comments are a very encouraging addition to the article. Most “aah-ha!!” moments that I have had, and that I have read about others having, were the result of prayer and Scripture reading. The idea light bulb that glows must have a power source! And yes…the light is for OUR path, for OUR feet.

      Your words also remind me that Luther was studying the Book of Romans AND on his knees in continual prayer when he had his “aah-ha” revelation. May you continued to be blessed by the Lord as He reveals more and more of Himself to you.

  3. gospelofbarney says:

    The best we get is, “thy will be done,” as we tend to think only of our needs – and not what God could use us for!

  4. mtsweat says:

    This matter of prayer is heavily on many hearts of recent good friend. How timely! The author of a current read asks the necessary question, “What happens when we pray fervently?” He offers a neat and provable list from Acts 12: God provides His peace, activates His angels, surprises His servants, and vindicates His people.
    It is the author’s challenge however that has me reeling, “How desperate are you for God to answer your prayer?” He asks me if I can say with Jacob, “I will not let You go unless You bless me.” The title of the book by the way is “Pray Like It Matters.”
    Your words here, along with Paul’s, are moving and motivating, stressing the wondrous privilege we’ve been given to, as we also recently heard, boldly (not arrogantly) come into the Throne Room to obtain mercy and find grace in time of need. We are desperately in need; always.
    Very thought-out, thoughtful and well written post!

    • ccragamuffin says:

      Thank you for these thoughts and questions, they add much to these ponderings on prayer. “How desperate are you for God to answer your prayer?” is a great inquiry to begin with. It stirs up my spirit and directs it to another… “How will I live with the answers I receive?”…and then… “Does my posture in prayer include PLANNING to live the answer? “ Oh, friend, you have challenged my soul.

  5. jkrountree says:

    Great words (as usual) Ms Chris!

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