I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him. (Ephesians 1)
Although completely overlooked in our daily routines and drastically underestimated in comparison to our modern capabilities, the greatest thing that we will ever do in our lifetime is to pray. That is not simply a Christian overstatement in order to please God or to sound super-spiritual. If we stopped for just a moment and seriously considered what prayer actually is then we would shutter in humility at how often we take this great privilege for granted.
In the words of the great Welsh preacher, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, prayer “is the highest activity of the human soul.”
Now, if we understand prayer as the greatest thing that we will ever do in this life then we shouldn’t be too surprised that prayer often seems difficult and hard to do rightly. However, here in his prayer for the church in Ephesus, the apostle Paul provides us with some good insights on how we ought to pray. In looking at the way he begins this prayer, we can make a few helpful observations on how we should begin our own times of prayer.
We might notice that Paul begins his prayer by offering thanksgiving and acknowledging who he’s speaking with. In identifying God as “the God of our Lord Jesus Christ” and “the Father of glory”, Paul is taking a time-out to take in the greatness of the God to whom he is now speaking.
Perhaps there is nothing that will help us more in our own difficulty with prayer than to stop as soon as we start and seriously consider what we’re doing and who we are speaking with. There needs to be a sort of holy-hesitation before we actually begin speaking in the presence of God.
How often do we find ourselves rushing right into the presence of God and just blurting out a hurried request?
Scripture warns us to guard our steps when we approach the presence of God. If we actually considered what we are doing when we pray then we certainly wouldn’t do it so casually.
We must begin our prayers by recognizing and realizing what it is we are actually doing.
As Paul points out, we are praying to “the God of our Lord Jesus Christ” and “the Father of glory”. We aren’t praying to an unknown God, but rather a God who has made himself known and revealed himself to us in a very particular way.
We are praying to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who is the God of our Lord Jesus Christ. God has made himself known and knowable through his covenants, his people, his word and his redemptive work through his Son and our Savior the Lord Jesus Christ. We don’t have to come before God with uncertainties as to who he is and how he might respond to us. We can come before God with confidence and assurance knowing that we have peace with him through our Lord Jesus Christ who graciously brings us into his presence.
Through the work of our Lord Jesus Christ, we have access by faith to the “Father of glory”. We have been granted access to approach the same God whose presence made Moses hide his face in fear, Isaiah cry out for his life and John to fall on his face as if he was dead (Exodus 3; Isaiah 6; Revelation 1). Read that last sentence again and think about that!
The Son of God has secured us as adopted sons of God and has told us the good news that we now get to address the Almighty God of Glory as our Father in heaven. Timothy Keller puts this in perspective when he writes:
“The only person who dares to wake up a king at 3:00 AM for a glass of water is a child.” That’s the kind of access we have to our King and the Creator of the Universe.
So, are we aware of what is truly taking place each time we bow our head in prayer? Have we carefully considered what a privilege it is to pray?
May we begin our prayers with thanksgiving and recognize that it is only through the gracious work of our Lord Jesus Christ that we can even begin to approach the Almighty God of Glory and dare to address him as “Our Father”.