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Visionary Praying

Ephesians 1:18-19a
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. (NIVUK)

These verses are part of Paul's description of how he was constantly praying for the Ephesian church (Ephesians 1:15-21). Having given thanks for their faith and fellowship love (Ephesians 1:15), and asked Father God to reveal Himself to them more so that they might get to know Him better (Ephesians 1:17), Paul now prays that the Ephesian believers would develop good spiritual 'long sight'. In talking about the 'eyes of the heart', the Apostle is referring to our deep desires which set the agenda for our lives.

Despite many problems, Paul wanted Christians to focus on the joy that was to come, as Jesus did: Hebrews 12:2-3 says, "… fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." To 'consider' means to appreciate the reasons why Jesus endured suffering, and to set that same eternal joy as the goal of our lives.

Good drivers focus on the road ahead and not on the near-side verge. In the same way, the Christian life is only lived confidently with heaven in view. That is the Christian's hope (1 Thessalonians 1:3). There is no doubt in Scripture that God has called us to something infinitely greater than anything we experience now (2 Thessalonians 2:14). When we see Him face to face, we will receive the fullness of His pleasure in us, and He will receive us ... to His great pleasure! It will only be possible because of God's extraordinary and unique power - both on the cross and in our lives.

As all this is only possible through God's provision and power, we need to pray for each other, that we will keep on holding onto the long view, and not be mesmerised by the problems along the way: not that they have no significance, but they can easily distract us from our priority spiritual focus (2 Corinthians 4:17). So, although a lifetime of following Jesus may have far more pain and opposition than we want, setting our sights on the Lord in His glory, will definitely reshape our prayer life and our whole outlook. And we should want to pray that our Christian friends and colleagues will let God reshape their goals too ... as we pray for them.

Father God. Thank You for the example of the Lord Jesus who endured hardship because He could see the long-term goal of glory to come. Forgive me when I set my sights so much lower, focussing on the difficulties and pain of each day. Please help me to set my vision on Jesus in glory and not be side-tracked by the little inconveniences of every day. I need You to do this work in my life and I pray that You will do the same for my friends who are in the race with me. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams