HH, Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div [wpedon id=”36898″]
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.
Apostolic Prayer Focuses on Knowing God More
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)
Next, we begin to see the petitions within Paul’s prayer; he wants the believers to grow in understanding of God, and in other spiritual truths. We see this in the use of the word “know” in verse 17, where he prays for the believers to have the Spirit of wisdom and revelation so that they may know God better.
Commentator Kent Hughes points out some useful information about the word “know” as used in this text:
The regular Greek word for personal knowing is gnosis, but here the word is intensified with the preposition epi. Paul is asking for an epignosis—a “real, deep, full knowledge”—a “thorough knowledge”
Paul wants these believers to have a deep and thorough knowledge of God. When we are first saved, we come to know God. As Christ says in his high priestly prayer to the Father, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17:3). In speaking to the false professors in Matthew 7:23, he says, “I never knew you.” To be saved is to know God.
Paul wasn’t praying for these believers to know God, for they all did. He was praying for a deep and experiential knowledge of God which would continue until they got to heaven. In speaking about Christ’s coming and the eternal state, Paul says, “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12).
In the eternal state, we will have an intimate knowledge of God which is currently unattainable for us. However, this should be our goal here on earth. Paul says this in Philippians 3:10, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.”
After leaving everything for Christ, Paul said his continual endeavour for the rest of his life was knowing God, and it should be ours as well. In Latin, there is a phrase “summum bonum” which means, “the greatest good out of which all good flows.” For them, the greatest good was knowing God, and it was from this knowledge that everything good flowed—peace, love, joy, service, justice, and mercy all flow from this knowledge. And therefore, this must be our continual pursuit in life.
We can learn several insights about getting to know God better from Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 1:17.