Daily D – Ephesians 1:16-18
I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. EPHESIANS 1:16-18 (NLT)
Have you ever said something like, “I’ll be praying for you,” and then honestly, truthfully did not know how to get beyond praying, “Bless ‘em. Bless ‘em real good”?
Paul the Apostle, a man who knew how to pray, teaches us how to pray when we do not know what to pray. He prayed with thanksgiving: “I have not stopped thanking God for you.” The Christian Standard Bible translates these words this way: “I never stop giving thanks for you.” The Message paraphrases it, “I couldn’t stop thanking God for you—every time I prayed, I’d think of you and give thanks.”
You get the feeling Paul was deeply grateful for these friends. An article I read a while back said emails are more likely to get a response if you close them with the two little words. _With gratitude_. I began using this as part of my email signature. It is a nice reminder to express gratitude to God for the person addressed.
Paul says he expressed his gratitude every time he thought about this group of people. Never stopping giving thanks is a good start toward improved relationships, wouldn’t you say?
Paul also asked our Father in heaven to give this group of people spiritual wisdom and insight so that they might grow in their knowledge of God. God’s wonderful plan for our friends’ lives is better than our wonderful plan for them. It is more important that our family members, friends, and coworkers know and experience God and his purpose than me and mine. This thought seriously reshapes my prayers for others.
Paul continued by praying “that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called.” In _Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade_, the Holy Grail is lost forever. In the discussion following this dramatic scene, Indie’s father, who has searched for the Holy Grail for his whole life, is asked what he received from the experience. He replies with a single word: “Illumination.”
Praying for illumination for others is asking God to turn on the lights for people to see, understand, and embrace the “confident hope he has given to those he called.”
Sitting in a Bible class at college during my student days, a guy you would not expect to attend a Bible class was among my classmates. This rough and crude young man who spoke with colorful expression often unheard in the University Christian Center received illumination one day well into the semester.
When the lights came on, he loudly blurted out an attention-getting expletive that caused the professor to stop in the middle of her remarks. Christianity finally made sense to him. It dawned on him what Jesus had done for him. Walking away from class that day, he appeared lighter on his toes, fully joyful, engulfed in a deep smile of gratitude.
Pray for illumination.
When a person understands and embraces this confident hope, he or she understands and embraces what it means to be included in God’s family. They awaken to the reality of belonging to our Father in heaven. They are his dearly loved children.
Who would not want that for whoever they pray for? Today is a good day to reshape our prayers for others. Paul’s prayer gives ours a jumpstart moving us well beyond, “Bless ‘em. Bless ‘em real good.”
I will pray with gratitude.
Our Father, teach me to pray for others with gratitude. Teach me to pray for others to know and experience you. I want their minds to be illumined. I want them to experience confident hope. I want them to know they belong to you. Amen.
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Ruth 1:20, 21 “Don’t call me Naomi. Call me Mara,” she answered, “for the Almighty has made me very bitter. I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the LORD has opposed me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?” (CSB)