Have you ever felt like there was a particular subject God was pressing you to take notice of? A topic that just came up over and over in a myriad of ways?
For me lately, it’s been prayer. I feel like God has been encouraging me to pray more; to make prayer my default when I’m anxious or helpless or angry. To make a conversation with Him my go-to in all situations. The more I dwell on (and in!) prayer, the more I see how it is often a universal “Christian connector.” We may disagree on matters of doctrine and practice, but prayer is one of those things any Christian can do for any other Christian at any time and it feels intimate. It makes you feel heard and seen by your fellow Christian and by the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth. In those moments of prayer, the feeling of God’s presence where two or more are gathered in Christ’s name feels like the truest reality that’s ever been.
There are a lot of prayers in the Bible. Some are expressly named as such (The Lord’s prayer, Mary’s prayer) and some are not. There are two that have become particularly special to me as I’ve read my Bible this year: Jesus’ prayer on the night he was betrayed in John 17, and Paul’s prayer for the Body of Christ in Ephesians 3.
John 17 – This entire prayer from Jesus over his disciples is just so powerful. If you haven’t read it ever, or even in a while, I encourage you to go read it now. Read it in multiple versions. Read it daily. This is Jesus’ heart for those who were with him then, those of us who are in him now, and those who have yet to accept him. Look at these words: “I am not asking for these alone, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they can all be one, just as you, Father, are in union with me and I in union with you, that they also can be in union with us, so that the world may believe that you sent me.” (John 17:21 REV)
Over 2,000 years ago, Jesus prayed this prayer for you. How incredible is the love in this passage? You have been prayed over by saints you have never met, and by Jesus himself, in times before you existed.
Ephesians 3 – Knees deep in Ephesians 3 during a fellowship weekend in 2018 was the first time I truly, clearly and without a shadow of doubt heard the voice of God and conversed with Him. It was the most powerful few hours of my existence and it all stemmed from Ephesians 3, and particularly Paul’s prayer at the end. I read it in multiple versions – particularly the REV Bible and The Message – and somewhere between the two, I understood how POWERFUL these words are. Not only the power of this prayer Paul prayed over the believers in Ephesus, but how it transcends the centuries as a prayer for us.
Between the different perspectives brought to light by The Message and The REV, I comprehended not only God’s and Christ’s love for us as witnessed by this prayer, but its life-changing effects and why it’s so important for us to grasp it. Like Paul, I couldn’t help but fall on my knees before the Father, awestruck and humbled to tears by the sheer vastness of what has been done for us, through Christ.
Prayer is so important. The prayers we say, and the prayers that are prayed over us—by our fellow believers now, and by the ones who walked this world before us. That feeling you experience when a brother or sister in Christ takes a moment to pray for you is a sensation that pours down through the ages.
In closing, I want to share the passages of Ephesians 3 that brought me to my knees. Maybe they’ll resonate for you the same way—maybe they won’t. But I hope you take the time to read and truly soak in these life-giving words of truth.
And know that in all earnestness, in all honesty, in all Christian love, this is my prayer for each one of you who reads this blog. My brothers and sisters in Christ. My holy family:
(The MSG) My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.
God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his spirit deeply and gently within us.
(The REV) For this reason I bow my knees to the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he would grant you to be strengthened with power by his spirit in the inner man so that Christ would dwell in your hearts through trust; and that you, having been rooted and grounded in love, are fully able to comprehend with all the holy ones what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and thus to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you are filled with all the fullness of God.