Paul's Prayers - An Example for Us to Follow
What Do You Pray About?
APPENDIX 1 - an Attempt to Combine The
Different Parts of Paul's Prayers For The Saved Into a
An Important Note:
This outline is only an approximation, based on the NIV translation.
Some verses, may be capable of being translated in a slightly
different manner - which would result in minor differences in the
precise logical arrangement of various parts of the prayers. This
means that certain details in the outline could need to be revised,
if a different translation were used. However, the over-all message
would remain the same.
An example of this would be Philemon 1:6. Does the active expression
of one's faith result in a growing understanding of the good things
we have in Christ... or does a growing understanding of the good
things we have in Christ result in a greater desire to actively
express one's faith? All translations show that there is a close
connection between the two - and that was our focus in the main
article (PART 1, above). However, in the following outline, which is
based on the NIV translation, the active expression of one's faith is
described as logically coming first. (Technically, if both are
occurring in our lives, we won't have to worry about which one comes
The most extensive descriptions of Paul's prayers involve requests
for those who had repented from their sins, and turned to God for
salvation. This first outline lists some of his prayer requests for
these people. The list in this first section focuses on the ultimate
goals he desired for their lives.
1. That they would have a growing friendship with God.
That they would get to know God better - Ephesians 1:17.
- That Christ would be constantly dwelling in their hearts -
Both of these requests are directly connected with the next item in
this outline. (They are also based on what God would do in, and for,
them - which is mentioned in SECTION 2, below.)
2. That they would know how wonderful it is, to belong to God.
That they would understand how wonderful their future is (hope/riches
- v. 18), also that they would begin to understand how capable God
is, to get them there (using the same power that he used to raise
Jesus from the dead - v. 19-20) - Ephesians 1:18-20. [See also
Colossians 1:12, in which he expresses thanks to God for the future
inheritance which is theirs even now. (The fact that they now
have it points to the certainty of its coming.)]
- That they would have the power to grasp how great Christ's love
is, and to know his love, as expressed in their lives - Ephesians 3:18-19.
- That their lives would be filled with the "fullness of
God" - that God (or the blessings associated with his presence)
would be experienced in the totality of their lives - Ephesians 3:19.
- That they would have a better understanding of all the good
things they have in Jesus (as they "share" their faith -
that is, as they live-it-out, together, as a group) - Philemon 1:6.
Because it is so wonderful to belong to God, they needed to know how
to live, so that they could enjoy this relationship. The next item in
this outline focuses on what Paul told them. (Of course, it is not
just a matter of them needing to know these things. People
who belong to God will also want to know these things, so
that they can do them. God's children want to learn the ways
of their "Father in heaven.")
3. That they would know how to live.
Perfect & mature (that is, spiritually grown-up), doing what is
right - 2 Corinthians 13:9.
- Doing what is best, so that they could live a pure and fruitful
life - Philippians 1:9-11. (In doing this, they would be glorifying
and honoring God.)
- Living a life that is worthy and pleasing to God (fruitful &
growing) - Colossians 1:10. [Strengthened by his power - v. 11.]
- Filled with thanks to the Father (because he has brought us into
the kingdom of his Son) - Colossians 1:12.
What is the purpose, or reason, for living this way? This last item
in the outline tells us.
4. That they would reach the ultimate goal in life.
That Jesus Christ would be glorified in us (and us in him) - 2
There were certain things that would be necessary, in order for these
ultimate goals (see SECTION 1) to be reached. And so, Paul prayed not
only for the final outcome to be accomplished in their
lives, but also for the means of reaching that final outcome.
1. Things he prayed that God would do.
That God would give them the Spirit that gives wisdom and
revelation/understanding - Ephesians 1:17.
- That God would strengthen them (through the Spirit, who is the
source of this strength) so that Christ could dwell in their hearts -
Ephesians 3:16. [This strength could be contrasted with the
discouragement, which Paul didn't want them to have - v. 13.]
- That God would fill them with a knowledge of his will (through
the Spirit of understanding) - Colossians 1:9.
- That God would count them worthy of their "calling" and
would fulfil everything they set out to do (things done as an
expression of faith in him) - 2 Thessalonians 1:10-12.
2. Things he prayed would happen to them.
That their hearts would be enlightened (able to comprehend the
wonderful things that come from God) - Ephesians 1:18.
- That their love would increase (associated with knowledge and
insight) - Philippians 1:9.
- That they would be rooted in love [implied] - Ephesians 3:17.
- NOTE 1: Most likely, God is actively involved in these things,
just as with the things listed above. These are listed separately,
because God's involvement is not directly stated in the verses.
- NOTE 2: The things mentioned in the Ephesians verses would enable
them to have a growing friendship with God. They are directly
connected with the first item in SECTION 1, above, which focuses on
the ultimate goals Paul had for their lives.
3. Something he prayed that they would do.
That they would "share" their faith - Philemon 1:6.
- NOTE 1 about this verse: This does not refer to
"soul winning," which is often described as "sharing
the faith" with unbelievers. Rather, Paul prayed that, as a
group, they would live-out the faith - that they would put it into
practice in all that they did.
- NOTE 2 about this verse: Translations vary as to whether the sharing
or the understanding comes first. However, they all
show that there is a close connection between the two.
Finally, we may want to ask why Paul prayed these things. In
the context of several of these prayers, he tells us. Basically,
there were two reasons for his desire to pray for them:
1. They had accepted the good news about salvation and Paul had
heard about their acceptance of it.
They had accepted the testimony about Jesus - 2 Thessalonians 1:10+.
- They had accepted the message of truth, the good news about
salvation - Ephesians 1:13. [Note: Because of their acceptance of the
truth, God gave them the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of their future
inheritance - v. 14.]
- Paul had heard about their trust in Jesus - Colossians 1:4, 9.
- Paul had heard the good news about their trust/faith - 1
2. Their love for each other was visible and Paul knew about it.
They had love for the "saints" (= God's people) - Ephesians 1:15.
- Paul had heard about their love for the "saints" (=
God's people) - Colossians 1:4,9.
- [The good news about their love - 1 Thessalonians 3:6. (In this
passage, Paul focuses more on their faith - see the previous item in
this outline. The two are connected, however, because love is the
outworking, or fruit, of genuine faith.)]
Dennis Hinks © 1999, 2001
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