Tuesday, December 1, 2020

The Reason For Prayer

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,”[1]

Right now, I am captivated by Paul’s “reason” for what he expresses in the prayer that follows this expression. 

First, it tells me that we are driven by reasons. It is why, when someone acts sarky,[2] we want to ask, “why did you do that?!” A lot of what we talk about in freedom-work is about finding the deeper reasons that we do things one way instead of another. When we self-justify our sarkiness we are actually giving the reasons that self-justify our self-justification![3]

This simply reinforces why Paul spends the first half of Ephesians giving us reasons for what we believe before giving us the second half of his letter where he tells us how we live based on those reasons.

Second, it really hits me that Paul’s “reason” drove him in two things. One was that his attachment to the reason made him want to express that attachment in prayer, and the other was that the reason in question is why he prayed the distinctive things he constantly petitioned before God for the churches.

Third, what keeps standing out as I think about what this reason was to Paul is that it was all about the identity of the church. The church was “one new man” made up of Jews and Gentiles who had to learn to walk in the new way of the Spirit instead of the old way of sarky Judaism or sarky Gentileism.[4]

Paul also pictured the church as “a holy temple in the Lord”,[5] requiring us to be “joined together” and “built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”[6]

The “for this reason” of 3:14 is actually repeating the “for this reason” of 3:1, with 3:2-13 as a parenthesis while Paul sneaks in a reminder of his calling to minister to the Gentiles about such things. The focus seems to be on reminding the Gentile readers why they are to see themselves as equal members of the body of Christ as any of the Jewish believers. With the togetherness of the church in focus, Paul can then return to what “this reason” of his led him to do in prayer.

So, all true believers in Jesus Christ are part of this “one new man” that is now living for Jesus in the foreign land of the world. We are all “living stones”, as Peter called us, “being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”[7] This is parallel to Paul’s description of all believers, Jews and Gentiles together, as “a holy temple in the Lord.”

The point is that, since our new identity is a corporate one, and we must now live as the body of Christ, the one new man, the holy temple in the Lord, the impossibility of Jews and Gentiles getting along apart from Christ points our hearts to the necessity of prayer. At the same time, the prayers we pray are all about how this body of Christ, this new man, this holy temple in the Lord, must fellowship and attach to one another in Christ in order that Jesus would be glorified in his people.

Or, as Paul clarified in his parenthesis,

To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.[8]

Since it is “through the church” that “the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places,” praying for the fullness of the Triune God in the innermost places of our hearts, uniting us in the agapè-love of God more than we could accomplish ourselves, is absolutely necessary.

If we can never seem to get ourselves to stop and pray, or when we pray we are so self-absorbed instead of overflowing with prayers for God’s purposes in the church, it means that we are not attached to the “reason” Paul was attached to.[9] 

On the other hand, if we are attached to the “reason” Paul was living by, we cannot help praying for the church, and praying the specific things Paul emulated.

Not only that, but God has even given us this prayer[10] so that our efforts to follow Paul’s example in both his reason and his praying is helped along by a model prayer that we can expand in so many ways for so many people facing so many needs with the same aim as Paul, that Jesus would be glorified in the church, including the body of believers in our own communities today.

Would you join in praying this prayer for all the believers in your community, that God would work in us by his Spirit to draw us into the fellowship of the one new man, the holy temple in Jesus, so that our experience and expression of the agapè-love of Jesus would unite our lives with other believers in ways that glorify Jesus as the only person who could accomplish that kind of fellowship in people like us!


© 2020 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8


Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Ephesians 3:14

[2] “Sark/Sarx” is the way we would pronounce the Greek word translated “flesh” in the New Testament. Our home church has found that referring to the “sark” has been helpful to keep in mind what a horrible enemy it is, and identifying when someone is “sarky” is a clear and concise way of reminding ourselves that we are acting fleshly instead of spiritual.

[3] Self-justification is when we “justify” things that are wrong in our lives, usually by trying to make others look bad and ourselves look good. It is a prideful expression of self-dependence instead of the humility of self-denial. Narcissists have perfected this as a way of life, often controlling their church groups by making themselves appear better everyone else, and being willing to take down anyone who threatens their I’m-the-King-of-the-castle role in their group.

[4] Ephesians 2:15

[5] Ephesians 2:20

[6] Ephesians 2:19-22

[7] I Peter 2:5 (in context of I Peter 2:4-10)

[8] Ephesians 3:8-10

[9] Which is why I would highly encourage a journey through Ephesians from the beginning of the letter.

[10] Ephesians 3:14-21

No comments:

Post a Comment