What do you pray, when you pray for other people? As children, we’re taught to pray about the simple stuff – please fix my sore toe, please help me not be sad about my rabbit that ran away. Depending on God is good, and we’ll never outgrow that! He is our loving, kind and generous Provider. But as we grow up in our knowledge of God, we also grow in realising how powerful he is, and what else we can ask him for.
In Ephesians 1:15-23, Paul says that he has been praying for the Christians there. He has a rich relationship with them – he spent several years teaching in Ephesus in their early days; he was there when they first experienced violent push-back from members of their community. So what has he been praying for them? That God would keep them safe from persecution and injury? That they can feed their families?
Actually no. Paul says he prays continually (which makes me ask, how faithful am I in my prayers for others?), thanking God for their faith. First and foremost, Paul thanks God that they are Christians.
Next he gives thanks for their love for all God’s people. Jesus said our love for each other would show everyone that we follow him. Christians loving each other is the primary way we show people what Jesus is like. What a great thing to pray for our missionaries, and ourselves!
Finally Paul prays that God will give the Ephesians the Spirit of WISDOM and REVELATION – why? Because he wants them to have HOPE based on the absolute certainty that God is powerful – he raised Jesus from death to life, and seated him in heaven beside him! This is the God we trust in; he can overcome every power, whether on earth or in heaven, now or in the future. No matter what happens, our future is secure, if we trust in Christ.
It’s good to ask God for our daily needs, for ourselves and others. But as we grow more mature in faith, let’s pray for the things that will see us through the tough times – faith in Jesus, and confidence in his promise of eternal life.