HH, Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, 16 Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; 17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: 18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, 19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, (Ephesians 1:15-20)
Selected by God to build the foundation of the church, the apostles did so by bearing witness to the resurrected Christ, by their teaching, and by prayer.
The apostles were noted for prayer. When there was a need to provide for the widows in the early church, the apostles couldn’t do it because they had to devote themselves to “prayer and the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4). When the leaders of the church at Antioch were fasting and praying, the Holy Spirit told them to set apart Paul and Barnabas for the ministry God had called them to (Acts 13:1-3). This was the beginning of Paul’s missionary journeys.
In addition, in the majority of the apostle Paul’s epistles to churches, he starts off sharing how he has been praying for them (Romans 1:9-10, Philippians 1:4, Colossians 1:9). Praying for God’s church was an important component of laying the foundation.
Although the foundation of the church has been laid and the original apostles have passed away, we can still have an apostolic ministry, specifically in the area of prayer. God wants to use us to build his church through prayer.
As we consider Ephesians 1:15-20, we learn principles of apostolic prayer—prayer that builds up God’s church.
Believers can know God better by relying on the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
Paul prays for the Spirit of wisdom and revelation (Ephesians 1:17). There is some controversy over what he means by the word “Spirit.” Is he referring to the Holy Spirit, the human spirit, or something else? The NIV translators interpret it as the Holy Spirit.
This is because it is impossible to know God or have a revelation about him apart from the Holy Spirit. In John 16:13, the Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of truth, meaning that his job is to lead us into the truth about God.
1 Corinthians 2:14 says this, “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” Apart from the Holy Spirit, we cannot understand anything about God. He is the one who reveals the truth to us.
Now with that said, since Paul is writing to believers, he is not praying for them to have the Holy Spirit. In Ephesians 1:13-14, he says that believers are sealed by the Holy Spirit and that he is a deposit in them guaranteeing their inheritance. How can he then pray for them to have the Spirit?
Paul is clearly referring to the Holy Spirit’s ministry. He prays that the Holy Spirit would give these believers revelation about God through the Word of God, creation, events, and the witness of other believers. And he also prays for wisdom to apply this knowledge.
Christ says something similar to his disciples in Luke 11:11-13:
Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
Again, in speaking to believers, he is not telling them to pray for the Holy Spirit but rather for the ministry of the Spirit. He encourages them to ask and trust that God will give it to them. God wants to give believers every good gift that comes from the Holy Spirit.