A Christian woman who was having marital problems came to me for counsel. From her perspective, the husband was completely wrong and making her life miserable. She told me I was to say nothing to anyone. Every time I suggested a course of action, she said that they had tried it or that he wouldn’t be willing. I felt badly for her, but with no foreseeable action toward a solution, it left me at a loss about how I could be of help.
If you’ve ever felt at a loss about how to pray for yourself or others, there is an excellent pattern to follow in Ephesians 3:14-21. Paul said he started by bowing his knees in reverent submission to the Lord asking for the “riches” of His glory, or grace, to be given (vss. 14-16). He asked for others to be “strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man” (vs. 16). God strengthens us internally, primarily through the reading and counsel of His written Word. So, in effect, Paul was praying for others to be drawn into Scripture to find the spiritual life they needed. Next, he asked for others to grow in “faith” and to be “rooted and grounded in love” (vs. 17). These believers already had saving faith. What they needed was a growing faith to meet the trials of each day and growth in Christ to exhibit real love. The latter would produce greater peace, joy, compatibly with others, and a good testimony for their Savior. Then he prays they will better “comprehend” with other saints a deeper experiential realization of how much God loves them. He tells them this was far greater than “knowledge.” Sound doctrine is essential to pleasing the Lord, but it is not, as many saints conclude, God’s primary goal for them in life or Bible study. God’s primary goal for us is to grow spiritually, become more like Christ in holiness, and know Him intimately each day. Only then will we be “filled with all the fullness of God” (vs. 19). Paul closes his prayer by committing them to “Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power [of God] that worketh in us” (vs. 20). Aren’t these kinds of specific requests to the Lord far better than a generic, non-specific “God be with this person”?
Let’s make this kind of meaningful and mature prayer our pattern and follow it regularly, especially when we can’t really do anything but pray.
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