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Paul shows here that prayer can be very messy but still very real prayer.

Eph. 3:14

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father,

It is interesting that this verse starts with the same words as verse 1.  This has led many to the accurate conclusion that verses 2 to 13 are a digression in the Paul’s train of thought.  That is he begins, “For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of the Gentiles” intending to go on and say, “I kneel etc.” and pray for them but his mind wanders off on a wonderful digression.  As though he can’t help himself, he talks of the glory of the gospel and expresses amazement that the promises from old times have had their fulfilment in the life and work of Jesus.  It is this mystery which shows that the fulfilment is far more wonderful than any could have dreamed possible.  He also expresses wonder that God’s grace would allow a sinner like him to take the gospel to the Gentile world.  After these things and much more, he then goes back to the prayer he was going to describe.  There are several encouragements we can take from this.

Firstly, we are reminded not to lose the wonder of the gospel.  It is an astounding reality that the Son of God would come into the world to suffer and die to rescue us from our sin.  It is love beyond our understanding.  The wonder will be retained, as it was in Paul, when we remember what we deserve as the result of our sin and what we have as the result of Jesus saving work.  We are all too easily tempted to forget what we deserve and lose the sense of wonder at the astounding blessing we have in Christ.  It is important for us all to keep stirring up a recollection of the love, compassion, and depth of grace shown to us in Jesus.  That is to say nothing of the objective wonder even expressed by the angels at the astounding compassion and mercy of our Lord.

Secondly, we are reminded of the joy of digression in prayer.  Paul was beginning to pray here and then away he went!  Prayer is not some coldly logical exercise in concise wording and clear thought.  It is a reverend but intimate conversation.  As we pray to our Lord we can go “off script” and spend time dealing with the matters on our hearts.  This is not the best for public prayer, but a digression in a conversation with a friend is not a bad thing nor is digression in prayer to our God.

Thirdly, we are reminded that Paul’s thought processes were caught up in Jesus.  He seems to forget his chains as his thoughts soar in wonder at the glory of the gospel.  He even seems to put on hold the needs of the Ephesian Christians for a moment.  What captivated him was the glory of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  As we continue to hold onto Jesus and grow in him, we too will be captivated by the wonder of God’s grace in him.

Prayer: Father, please help us to pray and not give up.  May the prayer we offer you be very real and not just mechanical, formal and “correct.” In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

A song to listen to: Hear My Prayer

David Johnston Living Church – Creek Road

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