Ephesians 1:15-23

The Power of Intercessory Prayer

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.  Ephesians 1:17

Do you ever feel helpless when friends and family share their problems with you? I do. But then the Holy Spirit reminds me of Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians.

Paul didn’t feel helpless when he learned about the hardships of people he loved. He felt empowered. The Holy Spirit filled Paul with wisdom, so he could encourage his friends and strengthen their faith. In Ephesians 1:1-14, he reminded them of all the things God had done for them. Then in verses 15-25, Paul prayed for them.

When I pray for people, I often ask God to address an immediate need: provide a job, restore a relationship, or heal an illness. But Paul had a different prayer list for the Ephesians—petitions that would grow their faith, not just resolve one situation.

The heart of Paul’s prayer is verse 17: “so that you may know [God] better.” Does that seem like an odd request? After all, Paul had invested more than two years in Ephesus, teaching these people about God (Acts 19:1-10).

The Greek word translated “know” or “knowledge” in verse 17 is epignosis—“precise and correct knowledge.”[1]  In verse 18, the word is eido—“to inspect, examine, cherish.”[2]  Paul understood that the more intimately and completely we know God, the more readily we allow Him to handle whatever arises. And because we trust Him more, we rely less on ourselves.

Paul also prayed that God would enable the Ephesians to focus on their eternal destiny—the certainty that they would live in heaven one day (v. 18). Finally, he asked God to make them aware of the unlimited power of the Risen Christ (vv.19-21).

In prison, Paul couldn’t physically do anything for his friends. But praying that God would fill them with wisdom—enlighten and empower them—was far better than anything Paul could have done for them even if he had been free. The Ephesians needed to depend on God alone.

Prayer is never the “least” we can do for someone; it may the “most” we can do, especially if we ask God to help that person rely on His wisdom, promises, and power in accordance with His will.

Do you need to change the focus of your intercessory prayers?


Compare Paul’s words in Philippians 3:7-14 with his prayer for the Ephesians. What similarities and differences do you see? How would you finish this statement “I want to …”?

Paul ends Ephesians 1 with an affirmation of Jesus’ authority. What does “God has placed all things under His feet” mean to you? How does Jesus’ position as “head over everything” affect your daily life?

Paul and Peter loved to encourage their readers by talking about hope and our spiritual inheritance. Compare Ephesians 1:18 with 1 Peter 1:3-9 and Titus 2:11-13. What should our glorious future in heaven motivate us to do while we live on earth?

For another perspective on this Scripture passage, read Paul’s Prayer for the Ephesians.

 Denise K. Loock

[1] “Greek Lexicon :: G1922 (KJV).” Blue Letter Bible. Accessed 20 Apr, 2015. http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G1922&t=KJV

[2] “Greek Lexicon :: G1492 (KJV).” Blue Letter Bible. Accessed 20 Apr, 2015. http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G1492&t=KJV

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