The Poverty of This World’s Riches

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I really like this verse:

I do not cease to give thanks to you, remembering you in my prayers

I think there are so many people I could continually be thankful for in my life. There aren’t enough hours in the day to list the people I have around me and the ways they have blessed me and continue to do so. And so this is one of those verses that you can often bring to mind when you are fondly remembering those Christian brothers and sisters you have and the wonderfulness they have so often brought to your life.

And yet, it has struck me as I have been reading through Ephesians how it was exactly that Paul was praying for the believers in Ephesus.

For one, we’re not talking about people Paul had personal deep and meaningful relationships with – he says in verse 15 that he had heard of [their] faith in the Lord Jesus and [their] love towards the saints.

Paul was not reserving prayers for his own inner circle, the friends he had who had done him a few favours here and there. His motivation was not thanks and prayers in payment for good ole friendship. No, Pauls’ motivation was much deeper. In learning of the faithfulness and love of the Ephesians he was prompted to thank God for them and pray for them. Not once or twice as a friendly Christian gesture, but ceaselessly.

 

eph 1 16

 

So let’s take a look at what it was that Paul was praying for the church at Ephesus. What did he think they needed prayer for? It might challenge you as much as it has challenged me…

 

Spirit of wisdom and of revelation

 

The first thing Paul tells us he prayed for the believers in Ephesus was for a spirit of wisdom. Not a great earthly blessing, or an outpouring of wealth, or any other such temporal thing, but wisdom.

Oh, how wise choices can be our greatest need…ever felt like this? Life is full and busy and fast and sometimes making a good, wise choice in the midst of rush and hustle seems near on impossible. We react and over react and fail to react and all wisdom is thrown too quickly out of the window.

We still need this, as much as the church of Ephesus did. We are raising children, holding down jobs, ministering in our churches, keeping up with hobbies and social activities, and we need to be just as wise as the new testament churches did.

But wisdom on it’s own isn’t enough – it needs to be godly wisdom. How can we make wise, godly choices unless we know the Lord? It is through our knowledge of him that we will be more able and equipped to exercise the wisdom Paul speaks of here.

 

Open Heart Eyes

 

I’ve always found this a funny metaphor. It’s such an unusual image – go on, think it. A heart with eyes wide open, or enlightened! And yet how apt it is in reminding us about the connection between being aware and alert and the responses that come from our hearts.

I am an English teacher, so I’ll try not to run away with the metaphor here, but if something has eyes, it can slumber or it can be awake. And with waking comes awareness and alertness – this is how we will see God. Paul was praying that his readers would know God, that he would reveal himself to his people.

 

Hope, Riches, Power

 

Paul’s prayers, while being for believers, were not really about them. They were about God.

That they would know the hope that God had given them.

That they would the riches of His inheritance.

That they would know his great power.

We are blessed beyond measure because of all of these things.

because of God we have HOPE

because of God we have a RICH INHERITANCE

because of God his POWER is at work in our lives

This is not of our doing, and while we reap great benefits, it wasn’t Paul’s prayer that we loll around this world feeling happy, rich and satisfied. No, far from it. This world’s riches are poverty compared to the Lord. His prayers were that the believers in Ephesus would know this amazing God who raised Christ from the dead and, in doing so, lavishly spilled grace on to an undeserving people for his glory.

 

So what of prayer?

 

We have a gracious and merciful God who has told us through Philippians 4:6 that we are to bring all our requests to him.  Lay down our anxieties, come with a grateful heart, and bring everything to his feet. There is nothing too insignificant that might bother us that we cannot bring.

But when we come with our friends, our families, our loved ones, our church brothers and sisters, what are we praying for? Are we praying for wisdom and a revelation of who God is? Are we praying for enlightened hearts and reminders of God’s great hope, riches and power? What do we want more for the people we know and love? Health and happiness? A strife-free life? A side-step for life’s disappointments? Money and wealth? A home, a car, a spouse, a job, a holiday in the sun…?

Let us take our lead from Paul as we remember those we pray for. Let’s not be lured and charms by the poverty of this world’s riches, but instead, let us pray for wisdom and knowledge, open hearts and an ever-deepening relationship with an Almighty God.

 

Thoughts and Prayers for Today

 

Today, let’s combine our thoughts and prayers as we consider these words in Ephesians.

  • Let’s start by making a list of the people who are most on our heart for prayer at the moment.
  • How can we take Paul’s lead in praying for them?
  • How can you pray for your believing friends/family and how will it differ from how you pray for your unbelieving friends/family?

Grace and Love

Helen x

Comments

  1. Joyce reid says:

    Really good Helen. Xx

    Like

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