In each of Paul’s letters, he follows the writing conventions of his day. He begins by identifying himself and then offers greetings. As usual, Paul then includes a prayer of thanksgiving for his readers. In Ephesians, I find his prayer suitable for our work as discerning churches. In this blog entry, I would like to highlight this invocation. Paul begins by acknowledging the faith and love of the church at Ephesus.
(Ephesians 1:15-16 NIV) For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.
Paul’s gratitude manifests itself in prayer. Paul wants them to continue the beautiful work of love and faith. But look at how he describes this work.
(Ephesians 1:17 NIV) I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.
He doesn’t ask God for a larger congregation or an myriad of programs. He wants the church to have wisdom and revelation. Why? So they will know Jesus better. He describes,
(Ephesians 1:18 NIV) I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,
Paul asks God to open the eyes of their heart. What an apt description of discernment. He wants the church in Ephesus to be able to clearly see God’s direction for them. As we pray for our churches, this would serve as a magnificent prayer for God’s people in our congregations. Too often we are limited in our prayers; we pray for conviction of sin or healing of disease. But what if our churches prayed for seeing hearts. What if we could clearly identify God’s movement in our midst and joined Him in this work? What if we were less concerned about our petty needs and pleaded with God to identify his work among us? May we learn to live as discerning churches and may we consistently pray that God would open the eyes of our hearts.