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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Psalm 32:7-9 For you are my hiding place; you protect me from trouble. You surround me with songs of victory. Interlude The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.”
Exodus 39:42, 43 So the people of Israel followed all of the Lord’s instructions to Moses. Then Moses inspected all their work. When he found it had been done just as the Lord had commanded him, he blessed them.
Exodus 33:13 “If it is true that you look favorably on me, let me know your ways so I may understand you more fully and continue to enjoy your favor. And remember that this nation is your very own people.”
Exodus 31:1-5 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Look, I have specifically chosen Bezalel son of Uri, grandson of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. I have filled him with the Spirit of God, giving him great wisdom, ability, and expertise in all kinds of crafts. He is a master craftsman, expert in working with gold, silver, and bronze. He is skilled in engraving and mounting gemstones and in carving wood. He is a master at every craft!”