Ever pray just to make it? Sometimes, so it seems, that is the best we can do. We go from one fire to another, praying we will have the resources to put out the next one. It does not take much of this kind of living to bring us to despair.
However, there is another way of living, a more proactive, powerful way. Paul models that for us in his prayer to the Ephesians (1:15-23 which resumes in 3.14-21). Paul prays that God might give his readers a “spirit of wisdom and revelation.” While is not clear here whether Paul is referencing the Holy Spirit or that the Ephesians might gain the quality of wisdom and revelation, it is clear that both wisdom and revelation are gifts from God.
With wisdom, we can see past the next fire; we can see that some of our fires are the results of our loosely lived lives; and we could more readily live in sync with God’s life.
With revelation, we could see what God had in store for us and more readily anticipate the future. Most of us have the ability to predict more of the future than we practice. Certain ways of living produce life; others, death. One does not have to be religious to figure this out. God’s revelation in our life allows us to see this even more clearly.
Both of these gifts, wisdom and revelation, are supernatural—they come only from God.
Yet Paul seeks a particular outcome for God’s gifts of wisdom and revelation—that we might know Jesus! The NIV translation’s addition of the word “better” is probably correct on the sense of the text—after all the original readers were already Christians—yet it softens the sense that outcome here is to know Jesus.
Thus now Paul prays that the “eyes” of our hearts might be enlightened. This is also the work of God. While “eyes of our minds” might be more natural to the way we think today, “eyes of our hearts” captures the sense that Paul hopes we will see God at our deepest levels, in our heart of hearts.
Paul wants us to see three things: 1) the hope we have because God has called us; 2) the glorious rich inheritance we have among God’s people; and 3) the incredible power we can access as believers in Jesus.
Each of these is worth exploring, but Paul really wants us to get the last one. He really lathers up the descriptors: “the overabundant greatness of his power for us who believe based on the energy of the might of his strength” (my literal translation).
This same power, according to Paul,
- raised Jesus from the dead,
- seated him at the right hand of God,
- raised him above every name, even of angelic and demonic forces,
- made every thing subject to him, and
- placed him as supreme in the church over everything.
That is a lot of power! And it is available for those who believe. You don’t have to live fire to fire because we have the power to live triumphant lives in Jesus. All you have to do is ask for it and then begin to live as if you have it.