One cannot read the prayers of Paul in the New Testament without being deeply impressed with how full of God they are. Perhaps there are times when our prayers are too full of our own wants and wishes. Surely, there is a place for taking these matters to God (cf. Hebrews 4:16; 1 John 5:14-15). However, we must never lose sight of the greatness, beauty and perfect character of the One before whose throne we are privileged to pray! Paul is of immeasurable help when it comes to striking the right balance. He, with incredible depth and trust, stresses both the awesomeness of God and the very real need(s) of God’s people. Let’s use Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3:14-21 as an example.
- Paul stresses the worship and service of God (vv. 14, 21). He speaks of “bowing the knee” (vs. 14) and giving God “glory in the church” (vs. 21). These terms vividly depict both praising and glorifying God individually and collectively. Question: Do I individually as a Christian and collectively in the church seek God’s glory and honor in everything? (1 Corinthians 10:31).
- Paul stresses God as Father (vv. 14-15) While Ephesians 3:14-21 is undoubtedly a great passage emphasizing the Godhead or Trinity, Paul especially gives place to the fact God is Father. Oh, the preciousness of being able to speak of God as our Father! (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6). Question: Am I awestruck by the awareness that God is my Father and I am His child? Such an awareness should make me NEVER doubt His ability or His goodness (cf. Matthew 7:7-11).
- Paul stresses God’s glory (vs. 16). He speaks of the “riches” of God’s glory. Elsewhere Paul writes of the riches of God’s mercy (Eph. 2:4), the riches of His grace (Eph. 1:7; 2:7), the riches of God’s “kindness and forbearance and patience” (Rom. 2:4) and the “depth of the riches” of God’s “wisdom and knowledge” (Rom. 11:33-36). Our God is glorious and rich! Question: Am I humbled by thought that God gloriously and generously does so much for His children? How does this shape my attitude every day?
- Paul stresses God’s grace (vs. 16). God “grants.” He graciously gives “strength” in our inner being. Could it be that sometimes we face the difficulties and struggles of life relying far too much on our own strength and too little on His? Question: Do I constantly pray to God for strength, both for myself and for those I love, in dealing with life’s struggles and with Satan’s temptations?
- Paul stresses God’s presence (vv. 16-17). He writes, “so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” This expression emphasizes WHO? – “Christ.” It goes on to speak of WHAT? – “may dwell in your hearts.” It also speaks of HOW? – “by faith.” Verse 16 also says “through his Spirit.” Question: In my daily life, am I truly aware of God’s promise of His presence? Do I rejoice in the confidence that He is with me? (See Psalm 23).
The more I study and think about Paul and his praying, the more I long to love and to know God as he did. By such love and knowledge, I will better trust Him in every aspect and circumstance of life. And by this love and knowledge, my life will better reflect the beauty and character of God!