I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. - Vs 16-17
I love the prayers of Paul. He didn't pray like I pray. He never seemed to pray for circumstantial change in the lives of those for whom he prayed. In other words, he didn't pray that the contract would go through on that new house, or that Eutycus would get relief from his lower back pain, or that Aristarchus would get the raise he was hoping for. Now I'm sure Paul did pray for these kinds of things, but we don't seem to have them recorded in any of his letters. His prayers were different. They have a certain intensity about them. They were deeply spiritual, yet highly practical. Paul seemed to pray "power prayers." He went to the core issues. He didn't waste time on circumstantial issues, but went right to the heart of the problem. Take a look at this prayer again:
I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you might grow in your knowledge of God.
He is asking God to give them spiritual wisdom and understanding so that their knowledge of Himself might increase. He wants them to grow in their knowledge and understanding of God. Why? Because the more we understand God, the more we understand His power, His love, His mercy, His grace, His plan, and the unbelievable privilege it is to be considered His child.
Paul explains in his prayer just how we might come to this knowledge and understanding. By having the eyes of our hearts enlightened (Vs 18). Deep inside, we need to have certain things clarified and brought to light. We need to know the hope of His calling. We need to understand the unshakable, future reality of our eternal salvation. It is real. It is the reason for which we have been called. We need to understand the riches of His inheritance. Here, Paul seems to be praying that we would understand that WE, as saints or set-apart ones, are the riches of His inheritance. It is the people of God who make up the inheritance of God. The kingdom of God is not a place, it is a people. We are His possession.
But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are a kingdom of priests, God’s holy nation, his very own possession. This is so you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. – 1 Peter 2:9 (NLT)
We are His. We are part of His incredibly vast, rich inheritance of saints through the ages. And we need to understand that. We are not alone. We are not individual saints, but are part of a massive kingdom, a holy nation, a people chosen by God Himself!
Finally, Paul prays that we would "begin to understand the incredible greatness of his power for us who believe him" (Vs 19). The more we come to know and understand God, the more we will comprehend just how powerful He is. His power raised Jesus from the dead. That same power is available to us as believers. Not to get what we want or to have God do our bidding. But that power is available to transform us into the likeness of His Son. That power is available to us so that we might live the life He has called us to live.
So how well do you know God today? I have to confess that my knowledge of God is probably far too academic. It is book knowledge. I know what the Bible says about God, but Paul is praying that I would know God – personally and experientially. There's a big difference. So what if we prayed this way for one another? What if we prayed for spiritual wisdom and understanding so that we might each grow in our knowledge of God? It was pretty important to Paul. Maybe we should give it a try.
Father, I ask that you would help every one of us as your children to grow in our knowledge of You by increasing our spiritual wisdom and understanding. I know You can accomplish that through Your Word and Your indwelling Holy Spirit. Give us an increasing hunger for Your Word and a willingness to obey Your Spirit. So that our knowledge of You might increase daily. Open our eyes so that we will truly understand that Your inheritance is made up of all the saints, past, present, and future. Help us to see their value just like You do. Help us to comprehend the immensity of Your power that is available to us every day of our lives – and to live like we believe it. Amen