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, etc.). 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 the Hope of God’s Plan for the Saints
I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, (Ephesians 1:18)
Next, Paul prays for these believers to know the hope to which God called them. Hope is very important because it guides our lives. If a person hopes to be a doctor, he focuses on the sciences and studies diligently. Hope drives the direction of his life.
If Christians don’t have the right hope, they will live for this world and thus often find themselves discouraged and depressed. This is why Paul prays for these believers to have their hearts enlightened so they will know the hope to which God called them.
When he says “heart,” he is using a figurative expression for the mind, will, and emotions. Unlike the contemporary use of “heart,” it is not primarily emotional. He wants their inner man to be completely enlightened to the hope of their calling.
Interpretation Question: What type of call is Paul referring to?
Scripture typically refers to two types of calls. There is the general call of the gospel which goes to all people. Romans 10:13 says, “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (KJV). Everybody is offered the gospel—this is the general call. Theologians call the second one the effectual call—the call that is effective and results in a person’s salvation. Look at how Paul uses this word in Romans 8:29-30:
For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
In talking about those God foreknew and predestined to be like Christ, Paul says that God called them, justified them, and glorified them. In this passage, he refers to the effectual call—the call that leads to salvation. When God effectually called us, it wasn’t just about salvation—it was for so much more. It spans God’s work before creation, in us now, and throughout eternity.
This call motivated Paul, and it should motivate us as well. He says this in Philippians 3:13-14:
Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
He pressed forward to win the prize for which God “called” him heavenward. Paul put his hope in the call, and it drove his life.
The very reason so many Christians live such earthly lives is because they have a very low understanding of their call and how God wants to use them.