Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Power, riches, hope... the Great Prayers of Ephesians

The Biblical book of Ephesians is such a great book. Actually, the Bible contains sixty-six great books, for every book reveals much of the nature of God and His great love for us. The apostle Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus is an epistle that can and should be read by new Christians and reread by those of us who have experienced faith in Christ for a long time, for it both instructs and encourages.

In Ephesians, we see a progression of thought that is mirrored in the spiritual development of a believer. It explains Christianity’s impact on the self, our interactions with others including those nearest to us, and finally the world around us with all its issues. Let’s not run ahead too quickly because without the original foundational relationship, the others will not make sense.

What does it take to become a Christian? 

How do I know that God wants me? 

Some people who have been on a faith journey for many years may still be asking these questions. They doubt that they are worthy enough for God. They’re struggling with sin or not doing enough for Christ.

This is bad theology.

Have a look at the world’s great religions and you’ll find that most of them operate on the premise of working your way into their god’s good books- pray so many prayers, do good deeds, even suffer- in order to achieve a place in heaven or a better life next time around. Christianity is the only religion which begins from the standpoint of God, who in His love, extends free salvation through the person of His Son, Jesus Christ. 

In the opening chapter of Ephesians, Paul explains that God was thinking about you before He even created this world in which we live- that He created you to be adopted by Him. It’s only sin that has separated us from God, and God provided the way back to Himself because Jesus bore the sins of all people on the cross. God did it all. Our part is just to come to Him and ask Him into our lives.

When a baby is born to loving parents, that child is taken home and cared for and provided with all he or she needs for a happy life- necessities and luxuries, discipline, boundaries, freedoms and love. The baby grows into a mature adult. Throughout their lives, the family shares a bond of love and relationship.  So it is with our Heavenly Father when we are adopted into His family. The life He gives is one of incredible relationship and blessing. This is why Paul writes in Ephesians chapter 1:

“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.  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, and His incomparably great power for us who believe.”

(verses 17 & 18)

The western world seems to be increasingly involved in a mad scramble for wealth and power and all the trappings that come with it. The fact of the matter is that of themselves, things, achievements, experiences and many relationships are transitory, as is all life on this earth. Without God in our lives we live without hope for a lasting future, for a love that surpasses all earthly ones and for strength imparted through His Holy Spirit. 

My parents first took me to church and taught me about God. God’s love has been the love of my life. My wonderful husband and two beautiful boys and lovely daughter have been the loves of my life too. But one need not be born into a Christian home to become a Christian. God is drawing people from all walks of life, throughout the world into His family. The gospel, or “good news” is for everybody.  If you want to become a Christian, it’s as simple as praying a prayer of commitment like the following prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father God,
I come before You acknowledging You as the only one God- Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Thank You for revealing Yourself to me. Thank You, Father God, for sending Your only Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross, honouring You and making a way for sinful people to come back into relationship with You. I acknowledge that I am a sinner. Please forgive my sin and cleanse me I pray. I receive Jesus Christ into my life to be my Lord and Saviour for the rest of my days. May You give me strength through the power of the Holy Spirit to live my life as a Christian. I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ my Lord and Saviour. Amen

And then following up with Bible reading and fellowship with other Christians in a caring church. There are lots of resources online.
Note that Paul was actually directing his prayer to the believers in Ephesus. We see that life in Christ is one of continuing revelations and knowledge, and the wisdom to use that knowledge for God. Paul continues this theme in another prayer in chapter 3:

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (verses 16-19)

It is my prayer that anyone reading here will know the transforming love of God in their hearts.

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