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Believing, Loving and Praying

Ephesians 1:15-16
For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God's people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. (NIVUK)

This is the start of the second of Paul 'long sentences' in Ephesians - from v15-23. We will read it through a few verses at a time, but please remember that Paul intended all those verses to be read together. Do take a few minutes to appreciate the richness and power of God's love towards you from the whole section. Although Paul spent several years in Ephesus, he did not know everybody in that church who would read this letter nor the many people in other churches where it would also be shared. The churches had continued to grow, and the Word rapidly spread out through the trade routes of what is now Turkey and Greece. The Apostle was so glad that the Gospel had done its work in calling people to put their faith in Jesus Christ, but they needed encouragement to understand the wonderful preciousness of their relationship with God and how to live with other believers.

Paul had plenty of experience of people who eagerly took to the Gospel but then fell away from the Lord or from fellowship with the Apostle (2 Timothy 4:10,14,16). The parable of the sower shows different ways in which people can miss the point of the message (Luke 8:1-15). So he knew there was more work to do - in reiterating the message, which he does in this letter.

But Paul did not just preach: he prayed for them. His first thought was to praise God, thanking Him for His kindness in bringing sinners to salvation through the gospel, and the faith He gave them to believe. Samuel said that it would be a sin not to pray for God's people (1 Samuel 12:23). It may seem strange to us that his prayers are so constant, but that is the mark of personal devotion to the Lord and His family (Romans 1:9; 1 Thessalonians 2:13). If we are only interested in the process of the Gospel and not the people it reaches, we are merely theological technicians - and are not behaving as those who live and serve in Christ's body.

Believing, loving and praying all go together. Faith not only produces changes in social relationships but also in spiritual passion. We should find that we have spiritual longings for those who have come to Christ (Romans 1:11; Philippians 1:8). It is natural and right that we should desire that all the people in our natural family should be satisfied, provided for and make a difference. In the same way we should pray for our spiritual brothers and sisters. These verses are a helpful reminder that we need to stir ourselves to thank God for them, and to pray with the loving passion of a parent or sibling. If there are other believers in your workplace, do you regularly pray for them? If not, why not? They need your prayers and you need theirs ... and if there is a Christian Fellowship where you work, do you support it consistently? If there is no Fellowship, why not start one?

Prayer 
Dear Lord. Thank You for Your grace that is engulfing some of my friends and colleagues. Forgive me for preaching without praying, and for assuming that believers do not need my prayers. Help me to show Your love by praying for believers, as those with responsibility at work, and as vulnerable people with families and personal needs. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams

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