Ephesiansby Robert M. Solomon
Ephesians 1 is all about God. Paul praises Him for all the blessings He has provided through Christ (Ephesians 1:3–14), then tells the Ephesians that he has been praying that they will fully understand the significance of God’s gifts and grace (vv. 15–23).
In the original Greek text, each of these two sections is one long sentence, signifying that each is a comprehensive and coherent act in itself. Paul’s prayer and thanksgiving are so exhilarating and intense that there are no breaks or pauses. Their appearance one after another also demonstrate the deep connection between praise and prayer—knowing who God is and what He has done, and praying in response to that sacred revelation.
Paul mentions “this reason” (v. 15), referring to his long sentence of praise for the blessings of salvation received from Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is because of the knowledge of God and His blessings that Paul is able to plunge into prayer for the Ephesian believers. If our knowledge of God is truly growing, we too will grow in our prayer life. Our prayer life must also be rooted in who God really is; otherwise we will be praying to an imaginary or mistaken conception of Him. Theologian J. I. Packer’s Knowing God gives us a classic study of God’s character and relationship with us, and can help us turn our reflections into praise. A true study of biblical doctrine is not a dry intellectual exercise, but one that flowers into praise and worship. And praise naturally flows into prayer. This is the reason why the true theologian does his work on his knees.
Paul has heard good and encouraging reports about the Ephesian Christians. In particular, he has heard about their “faith in the Lord Jesus” (their key vertical relationship) and their “love for all God’s people” (horizontal effect). As theologian and Bible teacher John Stott observes, “Every Christian both believes and loves.” Paul thanks God for the Ephesians, as their Christian lives were structured well. So why does he still want to pray for them? It is because they needed to know God better and experience His blessings more deeply.
As in his praise, Paul also has a Trinitarian focus in his prayer. He prays to the Father, dwells on Christ, and refers to the Spirit. This triune God is the reason and focus of our praise and prayer.
What would happen if our worship and prayers are not well grounded in the proper doctrine and knowledge of God? How can you deepen your knowledge of God?
Paul did not cease to give thanks to God for the Ephesian believers. What lessons can you learn from that? Is there anyone you have forgotten to thank God for in your prayer?