For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him… – Ephesians 1:15-17 ESV
Paul’s prayers were personal and practical, but in a spiritual sort of way. His prayers cut to the chase, aiming straight for the heart of the issue in the lives of those for whom he prayed. The theme of his prayers tended to revolve around their spiritual maturity and the ongoing development of their relationship with God. And Paul was not just content to pray for these things and leave them up to God. He had been willing to play his part, having helped start many of the churches to whom he wrote and writing his letters filled with instruction, encouragement and, at times, admonition and correction. Paul was not a glass-half-empty kind of guy, who always saw the negative side of everything. He was optimistic and always encouraged when he heard good reports regarding the congregations to whom he ministered. In the case of the brothers and sisters at Ephesus, he had received news of their faith in the Lord Jesus and their love toward all the saints. This report caused him to thank God. He knew this was evidence of the work of God in their lives. What a much-needed reminder for those of us who tend to see the faults and the failures, while overlooking the obvious activity of God in the lives of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Paul was not afraid to point out spiritual short-comings, but he was always eager to look for God-sightings in the lives of others. Evidence of spiritual transformation did not go unnoticed by Paul and his gratitude to God never went unexpressed.
Paul was not only thankful to God for His work in the lives of the people of God, he was thankful to God for those individuals. He told them, “I do not cease to give thanks for you” (Ephesians 1:16 ESV). He was grateful to God for them. He legitimately loved them and that love flowed out in the form of regular, heart-felt prayer for them. He wanted to see their faith and love increase, and he knew that the key to that happening was for their knowledge of God to increase, which is why he prayed: “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him” (Ephesians 1:17 ESV). His request was that God’s Spirit, the Spirit of truth, would provide them with wisdom and revelation when it comes to their knowledge of God. The idea of revelation has to do with disclosing of truth or making the unknown known. Paul knew that those for whom he prayed would need the Spirit’s help in discerning the truth regarding God. In his letter to the Corinthians, he wrote, “For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God” (1 Corinthians 2:10-12 ESV). In a sense, Jesus made God known to man. He made it possible for men to have a right relationship with God and know and experience His love, grace and mercy. The Holy Spirit makes it possible for us to know God better and better.
What Paul knew was that every believer needs one thing and one thing only – more knowledge of God. Jesus Christ restored our relationship with God. He made it possible for us to enter into God’s presence. The Holy Spirit now provides us with the ability to grow in our knowledge of God. And that increasing knowledge of Him is what informs us of His will and transforms us into the likeness of His Son as we willingly submit ourselves to that will. It is interesting to think about all the times we have prayed for God to remove someone from a difficult situation or to relieve them of a particular burden. But did we stop to think that God may be trying to reveal Himself to them in the midst of what they are going through? Did we ever consider that God might be wanting to give them His Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him and that is His purpose behind their trial or difficulty? The people to whom Paul wrote in Ephesus were not immune to problems. They were new converts to Christ living in a hostile environment. Christianity was still new and novel and those who professed faith in Christ were often treated with hostility and resentment. Paul knew any hope they had for survival was based on their knowledge of God. Knowledge of God would provide them with knowledge of His will. They would better understand and appreciate His love. They would be better equipped to recognize His power and put their faith in it when times got tough. A growing knowledge of God is the greatest need of every believer. It is the essence of what it means to have eternal life. Jesus put it this way: “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3 ESV). So our prayer for one another should be that we grow to know God better and better – experientially, not just academically. Knowing God is more important than trying to please God. Knowing God is better than attempting to serve God. Getting to know God is more vital to our spiritual well-being than getting things from God.