Proverbs 8 & Ephesians 1

Proverbs 8

    Does not wisdom call?
        Does not understanding raise her voice?
    On the heights beside the way,
        at the crossroads she takes her stand;
    beside the gates in front of the town,
        at the entrance of the portals she cries aloud:
    “To you, O men, I call,
        and my cry is to the children of man.
    O simple ones, learn prudence;
        O fools, learn sense.
    Hear, for I will speak noble things,
        and from my lips will come what is right,
    for my mouth will utter truth;
        wickedness is an abomination to my lips.
    All the words of my mouth are righteous;
        there is nothing twisted or crooked in them.
    They are all straight to him who understands,
        and right to those who find knowledge.
    Take my instruction instead of silver,
        and knowledge rather than choice gold,
    for wisdom is better than jewels,
        and all that you may desire cannot compare with her.
    “I, wisdom, dwell with prudence,
        and I find knowledge and discretion.
    The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil.
    Pride and arrogance and the way of evil
        and perverted speech I hate.
    I have counsel and sound wisdom;
        I have insight; I have strength.
    By me kings reign,
        and rulers decree what is just;
    by me princes rule,
        and nobles, all who govern justly.
    I love those who love me,
        and those who seek me diligently find me.
    Riches and honor are with me,
        enduring wealth and righteousness.
    My fruit is better than gold, even fine gold,
        and my yield than choice silver.
    I walk in the way of righteousness,
        in the paths of justice,
    granting an inheritance to those who love me,
        and filling their treasuries.
    “The LORD possessed me at the beginning of his work,
        the first of his acts of old.
    Ages ago I was set up,
        at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
    When there were no depths I was brought forth,
        when there were no springs abounding with water.
    Before the mountains had been shaped,
        before the hills, I was brought forth,
    before he had made the earth with its fields,
        or the first of the dust of the world.
    When he established the heavens, I was there;
        when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
    when he made firm the skies above,
        when he established the fountains of the deep,
    when he assigned to the sea its limit,
        so that the waters might not transgress his command,
    when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
        then I was beside him, like a master workman,
    and I was daily his delight,
        rejoicing before him always,
    rejoicing in his inhabited world
        and delighting in the children of man.
    “And now, O sons, listen to me:
        blessed are those who keep my ways.
    Hear instruction and be wise,
        and do not neglect it.
    Blessed is the one who listens to me,
        watching daily at my gates,
        waiting beside my doors.
    For whoever finds me finds life
        and obtains favor from the LORD,
    but he who fails to find me injures himself;
        all who hate me love death.”

(Proverbs 8 ESV)

Ephesians 1

    Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,

    To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus:

    Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

    In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

    For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 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, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

(Ephesians 1 ESV)

Ephesians 1: Although completely overlooked in our daily rush through life and drastically underestimated in comparison to our modern advantages, the greatest thing we will ever do in our life 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’d 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 to do and 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 now 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 difficulty with prayer than to stop as soon as we start and seriously consider what we’re doing and who we are speaking with. Do we find ourselves more often than not rushing into the presence of God in order to offer a hurried request? If we considered what we were doing then we would certainly not do it so casually. Scripture warns us to guard our steps when we approach the presence of God (Ecclesiastes 5). We must begin our prayers by recognizing and realizing what it is we are actually doing.  

As the apostle 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 (Romans 5:1).       

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). The Son of God has secured us as adopted sons of God and has told us to now address the Almighty God of Glory as, “Our Father” (Matthew 6).

“The only person who dares wake up a king at 3:00 AM for a glass of water is a child. We have that kind of access.” - Tim Keller

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 call Him “Our Father”.