16 A Prayer for Understanding



A meditation on Epheisans 1:16,17


Paul assured the Ephesians that he continually prayed for them. He summarized his prayers for them by stating that he asks God to give them a spirit of wisdom and understanding so that they may know him better.

It is not clear from the Greek text whether the word 'spirit' refers to the Holy Spirit or simply to the attitude of our human spirit. What is clear is that Paul's purpose in praying is that the Christians will know God better – that God will not just give them wisdom and revelation, but that God will give them an attitude, a spirit, of increasing wisdom and increasing uncovering of the knowledge of God.

The indwelling Holy Spirit is not just the guarantee of all the promises of God as Paul has already explained, but also the God-given means by which Christians are continually taught the truth about Jesus Christ. By this teaching and enlightening ministry of the Holy Spirit the ignorance and blindness of our spirits is constantly being ripped away and replaced with true and increasing knowledge of our God and Father.

It is this increased quantity and quality of understanding for which Paul prays on behalf of the Ephesian Christians. He wants them to know God better. This is the focus of his prayers. This is the purpose of his prayers. All that he explains in the following verses is an expansion of this one prayer.

Why is it important that we should know God better?

Because to know God is to have eternal life. To know God is to trust him: to have confidence in his promises and commitment to his commands. The better we really know him the greater will be our trust and the greater will be our obedience. If we have only an inaccurate knowledge of God both our trust and our obedience will be minimal.

So Paul desires, above all else, that we will know God better.

Out of increased spiritual wisdom, out of increased unveiling of the truth about God, will flow increased glory for God as we exhibit in our lives an increased trust in our powerful God and his powerful gospel, and an increased obedience that reflects our understanding of his almighty, incomparable, power and authority.

Scriptures: Ephesians 1:16,17; 1:13-14; John 16:12-15; 17:3; 1 John 2:3-6; Ephesians 1:18-23.

Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2006, 2010