When you pray for people, what is it that you ask for?
As we look at sections in the letter to the Ephesian Christians, we find Paul being quite explicit in his prayers. He was not the kind of man to pray rather glibly, Lord, bless ….
We find him being totally direct about prayer in chapter 3:19
May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully.
We are not expected to fully understand the reasons for God’s love, nor the scope of it in reaching out to touch our fragile and imperfect lives, but we can experience it.
So here is one way to pray for your friends: ask that they will experience ever more deeply the love that God has for them. Experiencing that love is the basis for learning to love generously.
That is the theme of our readings this week.
vv 14-15. When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth.
At the end of chapter 2 Paul marvels at the unity of Christians from all backgrounds, and how together all are being built to form a place where God can live. He envisages the Christian Community as a Temple; people make a location for God to be seen and experienced. Thinking that way, he starts chapter 3 by writing ‘When I think of all this,… ‘ There is then a digression, and he has to start again in v 14 ‘When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray… ‘ The prayer that then follows is all about experiencing and expressing God’s love.
Right from the outset Paul is aware of the foundations on which prayer is built. It is not a casual matter, a quick ‘How do you do, God’. Prayer is a moment of communication between a puny creature, limited in time and space, and the Eternal Creator of a vast universe. In fact, Paul does not dare to stand upright, he can only bow in utter submission, and fall to his knees. In expressing it that way he makes clear the right attitude for prayer. In one sense, prayer is an act of extraordinary boldness; how dare the creature speak with the Creator and ask for anything! Yet it is a boldness based on the invitation to draw near to Him. It is not so much that we presume to draw near to God, He invites us and welcomes us as we do so. Whether we are making requests or expressing our worship and gratitude, prayer is an open door into the powerful presence of the Almighty God.
How do you feel about praying? Is it little more than part of your daily routine – like washing your hands; is it part of your religious duty – done because it is expected of you; or does it still carry for you an incredible sense of privilege – the Creator and the creature communicating beyond the space-time limitations?