Prophetic Prayer

Ephesians 1:15-23

In the section of Ephesians were going to consider today, we’re going to look at a prayer of the apostle Paul. I believe it can be truly called “prophetic prayer.” By that, I simply mean that it is clearly within the known will of God. Paul is not guessing about what God wants for these people. He’s not speculating. He knows… for sure. When we pray like this, we can pray with total confidence because we know that this is what God wants for all of his children. Here’s the passage:

Ephesians 1:15 “For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.”

Let’s take a closer look at Paul’s prayer requests for his friends in Ephesus: Firstly, he asks God to give them a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. What Christian doesn’t need wisdom and the revelation of the knowledge of God? We all do. We can also be sure that God wants us to have wisdom because in James 1:5 we read: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”

Regarding the “revelation in the knowledge of Him,” what Paul is emphasizing here is that we need God to reveal Himself to us. People can try to figure out what God is like, even by using the Bible, but if God doesn’t open our minds to the truth about Himself, we may well be confused by misunderstandings. In another letter that Paul wrote, his first one to his friends in Corinth, he explained (beginning at verse 9):

“…As it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”— but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no-one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Cor. 2:9-14 NIV)

This explains why there are people talking foolishness about God these days. They’ve tried to figure Him out according to what makes sense to their culture and to their own minds. Paul makes it clear that the only way to get a clear picture of God is for the Spirit of God to reveal truth about Him to us. We need to be careful to compare everything we hear people saying with Scripture, so we don’t accept human ideas about God. We need to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal God to us and to other believers so we won’t be deceived.

Paul continues his prayer along the same line, asking that God’s light would illuminate their hearts that they might see and embrace the truth. Here we see Paul clarifying his previous comments for his readers. When he talks about God’s light shining in their hearts so that they’ll be able to see and accept the truth, he’s speaking of the work of the Holy Spirit revealing God to them at the deepest level. We’ve already looked at that idea, but I want you to catch something important. He prays not just that they would be able to “see” but that they would “know” it.

Now, we commonly use the word “know” in a couple of ways. One is to know about someone. The other way we use “know” is in the sense of being acquainted with someone else personally. This is the kind of “knowing” that Paul is concerned about. He wants his friends to be personally acquainted with God, His character and His purposes.

He goes on to mention three things that he specifically wants them to know by experience. These are: the hope to which Christ called them, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints and the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe. Let’s look at them one at a time, briefly.

Firstly, Paul wants his friends in Ephesus to know the hope to which Christ called them. This is the hope not only of eternity in heaven, but the hope of an abundant life, here on earth. Now, when I say “abundant life,” I’m not talking about health and wealth. For example, I recently met a young man. He was abandoned by his father, before he was born. He is now a refugee. He has nothing – no money, no possessions. On top of this, he has an eye problem and the doctors told him he may go blind. He’s getting some treatment, but he isn’t sure how everything will turn out. Yet, he is a very happy person. He knows the Lord Jesus as his Saviour. He has Christian friends who love him and care about him. Even though he is very poor, he has an abundant life. This is what Paul prays for all believers.

Then he wants them to know “the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints.” This is really a continuation of his previous thought. The “riches” of his glorious inheritance would include things like the love of God, forgiveness, reconciliation, grace, fellowship, holiness, and the rest of this very long list of blessings. These we inherit through Him because of His death on the cross for us.

Finally, he talks about “the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe.” Again, he is not concerned with what the world identifies as power. He wants his friends to know, through experience, the infinite power of God in preserving us in the midst of a world of evil and temptations, His power in the spiritual gifts He uses through us to bless others, His power to defeat sin in our lives and make us more and more like the Lord Jesus. This is the power of God preparing us for heaven.

Paul goes on to talk more about this when he refers to “the working of his great might” in a particular way. What he has in mind is the power of the resurrection. Imagine this! The same power that raised Jesus from death and brought Him alive out of the tomb is the same power that is at work in the life of the believer today. This is the power that renews and refreshes my life and yours as we deal with sin in and around us. It is a constant, never-ending power, but there’s more.

The raising of Jesus from the dead was a work of great power, but God didn’t leave Jesus wandering aimlessly on the earth after His resurrection. He took His beloved Son into His presence and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places. The same power that took Jesus into heaven to be surrounded by angels and the saints of old is the same power that works in your life today. But, wait a minute! He didn’t just take Jesus to heaven for fellowship with all of the celestial beings there. He put Him far above all rule and authority and power and dominion. There is no power that exerts any influence over the Lord Jesus Christ today. He is above all power, and not only that, He is FAR above any other rule, authority, power or dominion.

This qualifies Him to be above every name that is named. There is no name of any earthly religious leader which is worthy of being mentioned alongside the name of Jesus. That name is the highest. There is no other name in heaven or on earth that is like it. And this is true, not only in this age, but also for all of eternity. God has given Jesus a place so high and powerful that everything else is under his feet.

All of this is what Paul wants Christians everywhere to know by experience. He isn’t content to ask God to provide for the physical needs of his friends. He wants them to live in the hope to which Christ called them, to enjoy the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints and to experience the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe. Are these the things you ask for when you pray for your friends? Are you praying prophetically? Are you praying for things that you can be sure are God’s will for people?

When you pray that God will heal a sickness, or provide a job, or give you money to buy something, or find you a spouse you can’t be 100% sure that these are God’s will. God’s blessings do not depend on good health, employment, money, relationships or anything else. God may want to work through bad circumstances to teach us valuable lessons about Himself, or about ourselves, or about life. When you ask God to bless your friends with wisdom and the revelation of knowledge, for their spiritual experience to include the hope of Christ, the riches of His inheritance and the reality of His power to be at work in their lives, you can be confident that your requests fit perfectly with God’s will. And remember “…whatever you ask in [Jesus] name (according to his will), He will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” (John 14:13)