Do you have good friends of faith? Do you share your joys and struggles in your daily walk with Christ and praises for answered prayers? Paul had that kind of relationship with the Ephesians when he lived among them and it shows in his heartfelt message as he sought to encourage them in their faith. Ephesians 1:15-16. “Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere, 16 I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly,” Paul had brought them to faith and was like a proud ‘papa’ over the continued growth of these believers. He was thankful for their lives of faith and prayed for them all the time.
A couple of months ago I was struggling with some health issues and a dear sister in Christ sent me a handmade card with the sentiment “I’m praying for you”. Just receiving her note encouraged me in my walk that day and each day after as I glanced at the card. Saying you’ll pray for someone is the most precious gift you can give them, so don’t say it if you don’t intend to actually pray. Paul was sincere and serious about prayer and he prayed constantly for those new believers in all the cities where he ministered.
Teaching, preaching, witnessing and prayer were all essential parts of Paul’s ministry. Even if we do not feel like we can be teachers or preachers we can all witness to the joy and power of Christ in our lives. We can all pray for those who we encounter who do not know Jesus, for our friends and family, and for specific troubles or circumstances we know people are experiencing. We can pray for our leaders at church, in our city and in our country. Prayer changes things and gives us opportunity to communicate with Father God about the people in our lives. Praying for others takes the focus off ourselves and acknowledges God’s sovereignty over all things. Because Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, we can go directly to God in prayer. He is accessible because of our faith in Jesus.
Today spend some time in prayer for those around you that are hurting, despairing, in poor health, need comfort, strength or are walking down a wrong pathway. Thank God that they are in your life and that you can lift them up in the name of Jesus.
Paul’s final words to the Thessalonians in his first letter to them shows his pastor’s heart. He told them to take care of one another, be patient, not to seek revenge and always try to do good. Then in 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 he includes these thoughts: “Always be joyful. 17 Never stop praying. 18 Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” He concludes this passage with admonitions to them to not try to block the Holy Spirit’s work and always seek to do good.
What would our lives be like if we really tried to do these things? Being patient with those who frustrate us, seeking to take care of those who are weak or in need, not being vengeful, always being filled with joy, thanks and praises to God, being known as a prayer warrior, seeking to do the will of God in all things and always looking for the good. But that is what Paul is saying is God’s will for us. God wants us filled with joy, always looking to Him in prayer and being thankful in all circumstances. Scripture does not say being thankful for all things but in all things. We do not need to be thankful for the hurricane, car accident or someone’s death, but we need to be thankful during those times of stress, deprivation, sorrow or calamity. We need to have an attitude of gratitude towards God at all times. That can be very hard in difficult times but as Paul says “this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” This is the key to having a grateful heart which God desires of us. I love the way David expresses this is Psalm 86:11-13 Teach me your ways, O Lord,
that I may live according to your truth!
Grant me purity of heart,
so that I may honor you.
12 With all my heart I will praise you, O Lord my God.
I will give glory to your name forever,
13 for your love for me is very great.
You have rescued me from the depths of death.
Is this you in all circumstances? Let David’s words be your prayer today.
How do you pray for others believers when you hear they are struggling, being persecuted, or have the desire to live and walk with Jesus each day? Paul gives us some guidelines for these prayers in Ephesians 1:15-19.
#1 He gives thanks for them. “Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere, 16 I have not stopped thanking God for you.”
#2 He prays all the time for them to have wisdom, insight and growth in their faith. “I pray for you constantly,17 asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God.”
#3 He prays they be overcome, filled with God’s marvelous light, truth and Hope. ” I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.”
#4 He prays they will know their great God-His power and character. ” I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him.”
Today as you pray for others, let Paul’s guidelines of prayer for his fellow believers in Ephesus be on your mind. Give thanks for them, then ask God to give them wisdom, discernment, growth in truth and and understanding of who God is. Remember the words from James 5:16b ” The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” Pray earnestly for your fellow believers and watch God work in their lives and in yours.