“This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that God has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him. I pray therefore that you may not lose heart over my sufferings for you; they are your glory.”
Have you ever been really discouraged? Have you ever lost heart, ready to quit, to chuck it all? If you have, then you can identify with the Ephesian Christians as Paul addresses them in today’s scripture. Paul sees that they are in danger of losing heart from the suffering that he and other Christians are enduring. But how do you pray for yourself if you are discouraged? How do you pray for a friend?
Paul’s concern for his beloved sisters and brothers moves him to pray the prayer we will follow each day. He models prayer that encourages the discouraged and satisfies the hungry heart. Here is a prayer based on God’s promises so that we can be assured that He will answer. It can truly take us to “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7), and “an indescribable and glorious joy” (1 Peter 1:8).
Notice that Paul prays “in accordance with the eternal purpose” of God that “he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord.” This gives us the confidence to pray knowing we are praying in line with God’s purpose, a purpose He had “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4). And this purpose has been accomplished in Christ Jesus.
As a young boy, I learned to pray “in Jesus’ name.” In time, I learned that this was more than a tagline to end a prayer. It was more than a mantra. Rather, to pray in Jesus’ name is to pray in agreement with God’s eternal purpose to make sinners His beloved children and heirs of His life and glory.
But there is more to Paul’s prayer! For to pray according to God’s eternal redemptive purpose means “we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him.” We do not cower or grovel as we approach God’s eternal throne. Our faith in Christ gives us “boldness” as we pray. It is a fascinating Greek word translated, “boldness” (parrhesia), as it means “boldness of speech,” or “freedom of speech.” Paul draws the word from the Greek city-state where people had something akin to our freedom of speech. It means that when we pray, we can speak freely and boldly, with confidence that God hears and answers our prayer. The Greek word denotes freedom of spirit and lightness as we stand before Abba Father!
It is important for us to keep in mind this “boldness” as we pray with Paul because, with him, we will be asking God for big and wonderful things. But we do not hesitate because we know we will be asking in line with God’s eternal purpose and asking in the name of Jesus, as Jesus would ask for us.
I had a friend who had a brain tumor and needed daily radiation treatments to shrink and destroy the deadly growth. I was a part of a team of men who drove him to radiation oncology for his treatment each day. Once I asked my friend what the treatments were like for him, and he told me happily: “Oh, I don’t feel a thing. I don’t hear anything, see anything, but I can tell that it’s working!”
Asking boldly in Jesus’ name can be like that. We may not feel anything, hear anything, or see anything, but we have the assurance that our prayers are working.
THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
“The basis of true prayer is the Sonship of Jesus which we share in union with him.” Peter Taylor Forsyth