PRAYING for OTHERS is both a PRIVILEGE & a RESPONSIBILITY: “Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power.” (Eph. 1:15-19)
Apostle Paul had ministered in the city of Ephesus for over three years (Acts 19:1-10; 20:31), and then he had departed to other places to preach the gospel. It was now about five years later that he is penning this epistle to the believers at Ephesus. The church in Ephesus had grown considerably since then, and furthermore, Paul had heard some wonderful reports about the abiding faith of the believers in Jesus as well as their explicit love for all the saints. Love is the outgrowth of faith, and faith manifests itself by love. Faith works by love (Gal. 5:6), and love is the proof of discipleship (John 13:35; 15:12; I John 3:14). Their faith in the Lord Jesus brought the miracle of salvation to their lives, and their love for all the saints demonstrated the transforming reality of their conversion.
Upon hearing the heart-warming news, Paul lifted his eyes to the heavens and expressed a prayer of thanksgiving along with a request for spiritual enlightenment for the believers in Ephesus. His thanksgiving is for past attainments, but his intercession is for future advancements. This recorded prayer of Paul for the believers in Ephesus gives us a model of what to include in our prayers for other believers as well. The highlight of Paul’s prayer was that he longed for the believers in Ephesus would appreciate and appropriate some essential elements in their own lives like spiritual illumination (vv. 16-23) and spiritual strength ( 3:14-21). Let us examine the prayer of Apostle Paul in this scriptural passage to understand what we should include in our intercessory prayers for other saints of God:
Paul first commends the Ephesian believers for what they were doing well (vv. 15–16). Their faith expressed their trust in Jesus Christ, and their love evidenced proper relationships with other believers. These qualities propelled Paul to give thanks to God repeatedly for these wonderful brethren and then to petition God for some essential elements.
Paul then asks God to give the Ephesian believers both wisdom and understanding of Himself through the ministry of the Holy Spirit so they might gain greater knowledge of God. The reason for this is because the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of wisdom (Isa. 11:2), and of revelation (1 Cor. 2:10).
Finally, Paul specifies three areas of divine knowledge which he desires for the saints:
- The hope of His calling points forward to the future, and it includes the fact that we shall be with Christ and be like Him forever.
- The riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints mean that the whole universe has been put under the reign of Christ, and we, His Bride, are reigning with Him over it.
- The exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe is the power which God used in our redemption, which He uses in our preservation, and which He will yet use in our glorification.
Apostle Paul is a good example for us to emulate, and praying for others is both a privilege and a responsibility. Paul wrote prayers in other epistles as well to encourage believers (see Phil. 1:9-11; Col. 1:9-12; 2 Thess. 1:11-12). He was intentional in giving thanks and making mention of the believers in Ephesus in his continual prayers. We also need to check if fellow believers need encouragement through verbal and written prayers. Thereafter, we should let them know that we are praying for them as well as encourage them by showing our love for them in word and deed!