Ephesians 1:15-19 contains a list of things that Paul prays for. Seeing this helps us know what we can pray for as well. In fact, I do pray for these exact things, not only for myself, but also for everyone who reads my writings or listens to my teachings. So join me in this study of Ephesians 1:15-19 to discover what I pray for you! Before we get to that, however, we answer a question from a reader about what is going on in life and whether or not he will ever bear fruit again for the kingdom.
Question about Bearing Fruit
Hi Jeremy, been a believer for 12 years now. I’m 40 years old. For the first 4 years I walked with the Lord, God gave me a ministry and people were just drawn to me and were getting saved.
Then I fell into grievous sin, drunkenness, and fornication (not to do with my ministry). My heart hardened and anger developed. My ministry slowly disappeared and so did God using me. I repented in deep tears for years.
Then I got extremely ill for the last 6 years and feel like God purged my anger through this.
However, I’m not being used by God, have no direction. I go to church but that is it.
Will God put me back into service after being a castaway? Will he give me a place in his kingdom again? I lost hope for that and it scares me thinking I lost his trust.
I want to serve him, the fruits of the Spirit have left me.
Can I get the fruits back? I’m not living in any known sin and haven’t for years, yet there is sin I don’t know in me so I’m not sinless by any means, I repent daily.
Please let me know what you think.
I am sorry to hear about what is going on in your life and your ongoing illness. Let me address a few of your concerns and then answer your question.
First, God is not angry at you. He is not punishing you for your sin. Sin bears its own punishment with it, and since sin hurts us, God is angry at sin, because He does not want us, as the objects of His love, to get hurt. Read some of the linked articles to learn more about this.
Second, a lack of a ministry or a lack of obvious fruit does not mean you are not growing or are not producing fruit. You say you are not producing fruit, but you also say that you are repenting of sin in your life as you become aware of it. Well, repentance is a proper response to sin when God makes us aware of it. This is a good sign. Also, you seem to be learning patience in waiting on God’s timing. Well, patience is a fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. So go a bit easier on yourself. You are doing just fine.
Third, are you where you want to be right now? No. None of us are. But that’s okay. That is part of the process of discipleship. Think of discipleship like the four seasons. You are in a winter right now. But spring is coming. And you cannot get to the spring where things are alive and growing unless you first go through the dark and cold winter. So again, use this time to develop patience and perseverance so that you will be ready to spring to life when the ground thaws.
Remember, God is a vinedresser, and He prunes the branches (you) so that you can produce fruit (John 15:1-8). You are in a pruning period right now. If you are connected to Jesus, the Vine, then fruit will follow.
Bottom line: Continue to be patient and repent of sin as it is pointed out to you by the indwelling Holy Spirit. These are all stages of preparation that God needs to take with you so that you can have a beautiful spring and summer and produce a great harvest in the fall.
What Paul Prayed For (Ephesians 1:15-19)
A shortened version of the sermon on the same passage, which can be found here: The Believer’s Bankbook: Ephesians 1:15-19.
Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is one of those books in the Bible that tells us something about our spiritual wealth. Paul has explained in Ephesians 1:3-14 what some of our spiritual riches are. Now, in Ephesians 1:15-19, he reveals one of the purposes for our spiritual possessions. Paul talks about what this purpose is by telling the Ephesian Christians that he is praying for them.
Ephesians 1:15-16. For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.
Although they were doing the things they were doing for the glory of God, Paul praises and encourages them to continue on.
In Ephesians 1:15, Paul says that the Ephesians have been glorifying God through their faith and through their love. Ephesians 1:16 shows that when Paul heard about this, he glorified God through his prayers. He is glorifying God, praising God, giving thanks to God for the faith and love of the Ephesian believers.
And then in Ephesians 1:17-19, Paul tells them exactly what he prays for.
There are several places in Ephesians where Paul states what he prays for. I find all of these to be significant, because when we see what Paul prays for it, this can help us know what we should pray for also.
Also, I like the prayers of Paul in Ephesians because what he prays for in regard to his Ephesian audience is exactly what I pray for regarding you. When I write books, website articles, or teach podcasts or online courses for my discipleship group, I have the same desires and prayers in mind that Paul states here. I want the same things for you that Paul wanted for the Ephesians Christians.
In Ephesians 1:17-19 Paul has one main prayer request, with three specific items in that request.
Paul prays for a Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation (Ephesians 1:17)
Paul prays that they may gain the spirit of wisdom and revelation.
In the NIV, the word Spirit is capitalized. This means that the translators thought that Paul was referring here to the wisdom and revelation that comes with the Holy Spirit. John 16:13 does say that when the Spirit comes, He will guide you into all truth. So if this is how Paul meant it, he is praying that the Holy Spirit would guide them into wisdom and revelation.
On the other hand, some of your translations might not have it capitalized. In this case, they take spirit to mean more like the character or nature of a person. We use spirit this way all the time. When we say “That person has spirit!” or “What a loving spirit he has” we don’t mean the Holy Spirit, but are talking about the person’s character or nature which makes them who they are.
I think that this second option is probably the better one. We have already seen from verses 13-14 that the third blessing we have in Christ is the Sealing of the Spirit, or a deposit—which is the Holy Spirit within us. Paul would not say in verses 13-14 that all believers have the Spirit, and then pray here in verse 17 for God to give them the Spirit. They already have the Spirit! They don’t need Him, but they do need to use what comes with Him.
Paul prays in Ephesians 1:17 that we would develop our new nature, our new character, our new spirit of wisdom and revelation.
Wisdom is knowledge of the true nature of things. It is spiritual depth perception. It is applied knowledge.
Revelation, of course, is knowledge that comes only from God. Harry Ironside tells the story of a time when he was first beginning to pastor as a young man, and he went home to California to visit his family and found a man of God living nearby who was from Northern Ireland. He was very sick, and had come to California hoping that the weather would aid his health.
He lived, by his own desire, in a small tent out under the olive trees a short distance from the home. Ironside went to see him there, and he remembers how he could see the thin, worn face upon which the peace of heaven was clearly seen. His name was Andrew Fraser. He could barely speak above a whisper, for his lungs were almost gone, but Ironside remembers how, after a few words of introduction, the old man said to him, “Young man, you are trying to preach Christ; are you not?”
“Yes, I am” he replied.
“Well,” the old man whispered, “sit down a little, and let us talk together about the Word of God.” He opened his well-worn Bible, and until his strength was gone, simply, sweetly, and earnestly he opened up truth after truth as he turned from one passage to another, in a way that Ironside had never seen before.
“Before I realized it,” says Ironside, “tears were running down my face, and I asked, ‘Where did you get these things? Could you tell me where I could find a book that would open them up to me? Did you learn them in some seminary or college?’ I shall never forget his answer.”
“My dear young man, I learned these things on my knees on the mud floor of a little sod cottage in the north of Ireland. There, with my Bible open before me, I used to kneel for hours at a time, and ask the Spirit of God to reveal Christ to my soul and to open the Word to my heart, and He taught me more on my knees on that mud floor than I ever could have learned in all the seminaries or colleges in the world” (Ironside, 86-87).
This man had the spirit of wisdom and revelation that comes from spending time with God and His Word. There is no spiritual short cut here. It comes only with discipline and time.
I can attest to this as well. While I have been to Bible college and Seminary, I would say that the vast majority of what I have learned about God and Scripture did not come from what they taught me in seminary. Instead, I learned it through the careful and prayerful study of Scripture as I seek God’s face and listen to His whispering through the words of God on the written page and the Word of God in Jesus Christ.
So both of these words found in Ephesians 1:17, wisdom and revelation, imply that Paul wants his readers to gain spiritual knowledge. How do we know this? Well, look at the text. The end of Ephesians 1:17 says so that. Why does Paul want us to gain wisdom and knowledge? So that you may know Him better. The spiritual possessions we have in Christ have been given to us so that we will first, give glory to God and second, gain knowledge of God.
How much do you know about this God you claim to love?
Could you name even five of his attributes or characteristics?
Do you know His ways and His works?
Now where are you going to learn about God?
Some people turn to their own feelings, while others turn to reason and logic. There is nothing wrong with feelings and emotions or reason and logic. Both are gifts from God. But both can also lead us astray.
Of course, creation and our conscience can also tell us something about God, but both have been twisted by sin and so can also lead us astray. We need something clearer.
The only way to know anything for sure about God is to have Him tell us about Himself. And that is exactly what He has done in Scripture, and especially in Jesus Christ. The blessings we have in Jesus Christ guide us into knowledge of God and the wisdom for how to live life.
That is why I place so much effort and emphasis on teaching Scripture, and as I do, always pointing you to Jesus Christ. Biblical teaching which focuses on Christ and Him crucified is one of the best ways to learn about God and what God wants for our lives.
So our spiritual possessions are for us to give glory to God and to gain knowledge of God. Paul, in Ephesians 1:18-19, lists three things specifically that he desires—that he prays—for his readers to gain knowledge of.
Three Specific Items Paul Wants the Ephesians to Know (Ephesians 1:18-19)
Ephesians 1:18-19. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know (he prays for us to know three things—first) the hope to which he has called you, (second) the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and (third) his incomparably great power for us who believe.
Paul’s prayer is that the eyes of our heart may be enlightened. The eyes of your heart is a figure of speech for spiritual knowledge and understanding. And Paul prays that his readers would gain spiritual knowledge and understanding in three ways. First, that they would know hope, second, that they would know their riches, and third, that they would know God’s power. Let’s take these one at a time.
1. The Hope To Which You Were Called
Paul’s first item that he prays for is that his readers would know hope.
A lot of people hear the word “hope” and think it implies kind of a “wishful thinking.” For example, many people hope for riches—but most will not ever become rich.
But that is not the kind of hope Paul is talking about.
Our hope is a certain hope. Hope in Scripture is the absolute certainty of our victory in God (cf. Rom 8:23-24; Eph 4:4; Col 1:5; 1 Thess 1:3; 1 Pet 3:15).
We do not place faith in our own good works, we hope in Christ, we place faith in His works, and we know that since God does not lie, our hope has a good foundation, and our hope will come true.
When God makes a promise, faith believes it, hope anticipates it, and patience quietly awaits it.
2. The Riches of Our Inheritance
Secondly, though, Paul wants us to gain knowledge of God by learning about our riches. He says in Ephesians 1:18, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints. I hope you understand that the riches that belong to us in Christ—the inheritance that is ours in Jesus Christ—is partly for our use right now. In Ephesians 1:3-14, Paul has shared numerous things that we have in Christ, but these are not the only riches that we have. Other places in Scripture tell us what these other things are.
And Paul says here that for many of them, we can know them now! I should point out here that the word “know” often means more than just a simple knowledge of something. Being to the ocean … swimming in the ocean … smelling the salt in the air and tasting the salt on your tongue, hearing the cry of the seagulls … is much different than reading about the ocean in a book. One is simply mental knowledge; the other is experiential knowledge.
The knowledge of that Paul wants us to have here of our hope and riches in Jesus Christ is an intimate, experiential kind of knowledge. Here, he wants us to know the riches that we have in Christ by using them.
3. The Great Power for Us Who Believe
Finally, in the first part of verse 19, Paul prays for his readers to know his incomparably great power for us who believe.
The world wants power today, doesn’t it? Those who are of the world believe that money and prestige and position, will get them power. Well, let me tell you, the power that is ours in Christ is beyond comprehension. Paul says it is incomparably great! That means there is no comparison between this power and any other power in the world! In fact, the Greek word for power is dunamis, from which we get our word dynamite. It is power like dynamite that we have in Christ.
And Paul thinks this power is so great, that he goes on in the rest of Ephesians 1:19 an on through Ephesians 1:23 to talk about this power. We don’t have time to look at these verses today, but we will do so in future studies.
My prayer for you, as you listen to these studies, as you read my books, and as you join my online discipleship group, is that you will come to a better understanding of everything that you have in Jesus Christ.
I want you to be hopeful and your future. We live in bleak times, and there is so much going on in the world, that it sometimes causes us to lose hope. But there is hope in Jesus, and we can know with certainty that no matter how bad things get in the world or in your life, this world is not all there is. You have great and hopeful things awaiting you in eternity.
Second, I pray that you would know how rich you are in Jesus Christ. Spiritually rich. There are many great blessings we have been given in Jesus Christ, and these rich blessings can help us in life, in our jobs, in our relationships, and in all we think, say, and do.
Third, I want you to know and experience the power of God. The power to break down barriers, defeat sin and temptation, and overcome doubt and fear. I want you to live a victorious and fulfilling Christian life.
I hope and pray that all of these things become true of you as you continue to join me on the path of following Jesus.