[I] Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers. — Ephesians 1:16
I love to meet with God’s people! I enjoy going to services at my home church, combined meetings, special meetings, and camp meetings. It is a great encouragement to know that I am not alone in serving the Lord. It is thrilling to see evidence of answered prayer when I see the object of my prayers standing to witness to the power of God!
A few weeks ago, on a Saturday morning I woke up at 4:15 (which is significant since it’s the only morning of the week that my alarm does not go off at 5 a.m.) with a couple of dear friends on my heart. I was awake enough (also significant, since I don’t wake up easily) to know that for some reason I needed to pray for them, so I did. These friends live about 1100 miles and two time zones away, but we have contact via occasional long-distance telephone calls and email messages. We may see each other face-to-face every year or two, but definitely not on a regular basis. As I prayed for them, I thanked the Lord for their faithfulness to me in times of great emotional and spiritual need. I thanked the Lord for their testimony of the saving and keeping power of Jesus. Because I knew of some of the trials they were experiencing at the moment, I started rehearsing those things before the Lord. I asked for His intervention on their behalf in each situation. Eventually the burden lifted and I was able to fall back to sleep.
It was no surprise to have the phone ring a couple of hours later and hear the voice of my friend on the other end, telling me of how the Lord had answered her prayer; it was one I had been interceding for. It wasn’t answered the way either of us thought it would be, but because we agree that God’s way is best, we took the answer as it was given. Our understanding was enlightened (verse 18) as to how the Lord had been working behind the scenes and was indeed showing His exceeding greatness (verse 19) in the whole situation.
This is not the first time that has happened to me, and I hope it won’t be the last! Often when people I haven’t seen for a long time come to mind, I breathe a prayer for them, only to learn the next time we see each other how the Lord worked out a particular problem or situation. At the same time, friends will ask me about my unsaved family members and share with me that the Lord reminded them lately to pray for them!
Just as Paul prayed for the Ephesian church, as well as many others, so we must pray for our brothers and sisters. When we earnestly pray for others, we can be assured that God hears us and will answer.
Many scholars believe that Paul intended the letter he wrote to the Ephesians to circulate among the churches in several Asian cities. There are two prayers in the Book of Ephesians. The first is found in verses 15-23 in the first chapter; the other in chapter 3 verses 14-21. Prayer is a natural activity of the regenerated heart, and Paul made specific requests in his prayer for the group at Ephesus. His prayer could well serve as a model for believers today in praying for others.
Paul may not have known all of his readers personally, but he had heard of their faith and love. He prayed for them continuously and with intensity, all the while giving thanks to God.
In verse 1:22, Paul used the word church for the first time in his letter to the Ephesians. He wanted the people to understand that Christ was to be the Head and they were to be the body of His church. The image of the body portrayed the church’s unity.
In the first section of chapter 2, Paul described the work of Christ in the lives of God’s people. Verses 1-10 in the original Greek text were one long sentence that assembled all of Paul’s teachings about grace, faith, and the Christian life. The word grace appears twelve times in Ephesians, and it meant “pleasantness, favor, or gratitude” to the people of Paul’s day. However, early Christians used the word in a different way that described the utter generosity that God gives to undeserving sinners.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The calling of the church
A. The foundation of the church
2. The foundation realized: the prayer of Paul (1:15-23)
a. The reason for his prayer (1:15)
b. The attitude of his prayer (1:16)
c. The content of his prayer (1:17-23)
(1) The request for wisdom and revelation (1:17)
(2) The reason for wisdom and revelation (1:18-23)
(a) To know the hope of his calling and the wealth of the glory of His inheritance (1:18)
(b) To know the greatness of His power to us (1:19-23)
B. The foundation of the church
1. The new position individually: the saints (2:1-10)
a. Our past condition: dead in sins (2:1-3)
b. Our new position: alive with Christ (2:4-7)
c. Our present situation: walking with God (2:8-10)
When we continually pray to God for others, we will reap God’s blessing in our own lives.