Prayer can sometimes feel confusing. Sometimes we feel the need in prayer to not ask for too much or to not demand anything from God. Other times we can pray in a way where we do not come to God with an attitude of reverence. While other times we just don't know what to say in prayer.
In Ephesians 3:14-21, Paul prays for the Ephesians, and I want to pull out three elements that we read that are valuable to remember when praying to God.
Firstly, we see HOW Paul comes to prayer. Paul prays with an attitude of humility towards God. From the very start of the prayer, Paul states:
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named. (Eph. 3:14-15 ESV)
Paul is showing an example of humility and submission to the call of God through the outward gesture of bowing. Like how people bow to earthly nobility, our attitude during prayer should be one that understands what a blessing and gift it is that we are able to communicate in this way with the Almighty God. It is this understanding that should lead to humility and reverence.
The second element to Paul's prayer is the WHAT; what is Paul praying for? Paul is praying for spiritual blessings on the Ephesians.
That according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Eph. 3:16-19 ESV)
Paul remembered the churches in his prayers, and it would be expected that he prayed for their physical needs. But in this passage we see him pray specifically for their spiritual needs. Paul prays that the Ephesians would be rooted and grounded in love and that they would be able to comprehend the love of God that is so boundless. Paul’s true desire for this church is for spiritual blessings. In that same way, the true desires for the Christian life today should be spiritual in nature. All things will eventually pass away aside from our relationship with God; in light of that, our true desires should be for spiritual growth.
Finally, Paul prays with an understanding of WHO he is praying to.
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Eph. 3:20-21 ESV)
Why does Paul pray with humility towards God? Why does he pray with such boldness for spiritual blessing? Paul does this because he knows the God whom he is praying to is the One who is able to do more than we could ever imagine.
God is more powerful than our finite minds can understand, and he is worthy of all glory and praise. The same God who created all things, the same God who chose the Israelites and was faithful to them, and the same God who sent Jesus Christ as a sacrifice for sins once and for all, for all who believe, that is the God who is worthy of all glory. That is the God to who we can pray to.
Dear Lord God, we pray to you today knowing we serve a powerful God who is glorious and worthy of praise. We pray that our ultimate goal in life would be to be Christ-centred and that we would seek your spiritual blessings.
Please continue to grow in us the knowledge of the love of Christ and may we reflect that to others in our lives. Lord God, we pray we would be encouraged by your power that is at work within us, and may we seek out opportunities to grow in our understanding of Christ's love.
In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.