Saturday, June 19, 2010

Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians: Paul's Essential Prayers

Paul fills his epistles with prayers.

The first one I ever found was in Ephesians 3. I don't remember how old I was, somewhere in my teens, but it spoke to me, to areas of my faith that I knew were lacking, to areas that never really got addressed in church.

Here's Paul's prayer:

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 your hearts, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, 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. (Ephesians 3:15-19)

I meditated on this passage, and I prayed it for myself. And then I got distracted and moved on.

God's love was assumed in the churches I attended at the time.
I didn't want to admit that I wasn't really experiencing power, love, or the fullness of God.
I was afraid what other people would say if they found out I was lacking.

I didn't understand that power, love, and fullness grow over time as I surrender my life increasingly to Jesus.
I didn't understand it's a process.
I didn't understand that we're all in process, that no one has "arrived."

Later on, I began exploring Scripture more seriously and came across this prayer again.
It's God who strengthens me; I can't strengthen myself.
Love is the root, the foundation.
Paul prays that we begin to grasp the immensity of God's love.
That means we don't. (Not just me--all of us.)
Even when we do, there's more. God's love is infinite. I'll never fully understand it.
God's love is better than knowledge.
I long to filled with the fullness of God.

And so I memorized this passage so that I could pray this prayer--for myself and others.

And then I discovered Ephesians 1:15-19, where Paul prays that the eyes of our hearts would be opened so that we could know God, that we would receive wisdom and revelation, and that we would experience the same kind of power that raised Jesus from the dead. And I added that to my list of prayer templates, models for prayer.

And then Philippians 1:9-11. Paul pray again that we grow in love, which gives insight, which leads to discernment.

And Colossians 1:9-12, where Paul prays for us to be filled with knowledge of God's will through spiritual wisdom and understanding so that we can live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way.

These prayers are worth memorizing. They are worth meditating upon, journaling about, and worth praying.

No comments: