What have you been praying about? What does your prayer list look like? You might be praying about all the wrong things and not even know it.
My home church has been working it’s way through the book of Ephesians. This past Sunday, we looked at the first of Paul’s two prayers for the church at Ephesus. It is found in Ephesians 1: 15-23. Take a minute to read the prayer here, it will help a lot. As I consider this passage, the truth that shouts to me is that Paul is praying differently than I am praying. His prayer list stands in contrast to my prayer list and probably yours too.
Most of our praying comes down to people that are sick and personal material needs. Isn’t that true? Very rarely do we pray about spiritual things for ourselves or others. We pray in hopes that God will make life easier. The Apostle Paul prays a little differently.
Here is a breakdown of Paul’s prayer list:
1. Thanks- How much time to you really spend thanking God for his work? It gets even more challenging when we think about the contents of Paul’s thanks. We give God a shout out when He gives us something we want, but Paul is thanking God for the faith and love that he sees in the lives of others. That doesn’t make my praise list very often. How about you?
2. Wisdom and Revelation that comes by the Holy Spirit- I probably score higher on this prayer point than any other ones mentioned by Paul, but I still fall inadequately short. We often charge ahead in life without the diligent pursuit of God for his wisdom and revelation. That is like heading off into battle with a pocketful of rocks when you have an armory of automatic weapons at your disposal. It doesn’t make sense. God wants to guide and equip us. Sometimes, I feel like I am just guessing at life. My praying is more along the lines of “God, just tell me what to do.” This seems different. Paul is praying that his friends would be more directed by the Holy Spirit as they walk with God. More time praying that God would fill me (and others) with the Spirit of wisdom and revelation would make a big difference.
3. Know God better– The end result of Paul’s praying for wisdom and revelation is to know God better. Wow! That is a lot different than my usual motivation. I just want life to work better. Paul wants us to know God better. How much of your praying is to have God make himself more known to you in your daily life? What a great prayer that would be! I have a feeling that might really change things. Most of our praying is self focused. God I need… Those are legitimate prayers, but what we need more than anything else is God himself. What if we started there? Remember Matthew 6:33? Jesus sets that order to things.
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
When we start by seeking our greatest need, the lessor needs that seem so urgent will be met. Let’s be praying that we would know God better.
4. An opening of my heart to grasp the incredible hope of heaven- I met a man this week that was broken. His wife had died three days earlier. This stranger broke down in my arms sobbing over the loss of his beloved wife. He claimed faith in Christ and I prayed for him and then challenged him to hold onto the truth that the story isn’t over. He regretted that the last six months of her life were spent in a hospital bed and that all his final pictures were of her in this bed. I told him that even though this seems like the end…like it’s all over, it’s not the end of the story. A glorious eternity awaits all who believe in Jesus Christ. Our story goes on and it will be better than we can imagine. We need to pray that God would help us to know and remember that this world isn’t it. It isn’t even close.
5. An opening of my heart to grasp the power available to me in Christ– Do you know the power…the ability…the strength that God has ready for your use? Paul says it is “incomparably great.” He says that it is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. I’ll be honest. I don’t know nearly enough about that kind of power. I want to. I could use it. I need it. I guess I need to be praying about it. That is what Paul did.
I don’t know about you, but I need to be praying differently. I need a better list. I need to pray like Paul prayed. Let’s give it a try.