Praying an Ephesians prayer is modeling your own prayers after that of the great Apostle Paul. In the Book of Ephesians, Paul, writing to the Christian believers at Ephesus, includes in his letter to them two prayers.
When we don’t know how to pray, it is always a good idea to go the Bible and pattern our personal prayers after Biblical prayers. While each of Paul’s prayers are different, what is similar in both prayers is that the focus is not on the Ephesian church members’ physical desires, but rather, on their spiritual needs.
While there are different kinds of prayers, many times, our prayers are primarily focused on our physical needs, such as money, healing, relationships, and other things that concern us while we are in these physical bodies on Earth.
While this is fine, and there is everything right to pray about these concerns, the prayers in Paul’s letters looks far beyond the physical, and in a sense, takes both the recipients of his letter and believers through the centuries who read this letter to the Ephesian church, and elevates them to a much more spiritual height that transcends this physical world.
These two prayers, especially when we personalize them for ourselves or for our loved ones, stretches our spiritual “muscles,” forcing us to glimpse into the spiritual future. Mediating on the depth of these prayers, or attempting to incorporate the deep spiritual requests made here, is truly an example of the doctrinal “strong meat” referred to in Hebrews 5:14
This is a great practical example of putting the truth in Matthew 6:33, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (KJV), into practice.
Although we are physical beings in a physical world, God, Who is a Spirit, wants us to look with the eyes of faith beyond this present and physical existence and into the spiritual. As we focus more on the spiritual, He will make sure that our physical needs are being met as well.
Personalizing An Ephesians Prayer
It is a common practice to pray Scripture when coming to God about either our own requests, or bringing to Him the needs of others, include repeating back to God portions of His Word, reminding Him and claiming His promise for us as we pray to Him.
While this is a good practice in our prayer life, sometimes we don’t have the appropriate Scriptures. An easy way to pray God’s Word is to simply choose one of the prayers of the Apostle Paul, or any other Bible prayer, and where the word “you” or “your” is used, simply replace those pronouns with the name of your loved one, or even make it personal by using the word “me.”
This is making an Ephesians prayer very personal. As you pray this way, meditate on the subject of the prayer, and copying Paul’s prayers you are learning about God, His word, and the spiritual future.
The First Ephesians Prayer – Ephesians 1:17-23
The first of the two prayers of Ephesians are found in Ephesians 1:17-23. The preceding two verses: Ephesians 1:15 and 16, “Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, “Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers” (KJV) is an introduction to the actual prayer.
Then Paul goes on in the following verses to tell them exactly what he has been praying about. This is what he says in Ephesians 1:17-23:
That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. (KJV)
Bible scholars and Bible historians estimate that the last time Paul was physically in contact with the church at Ephesus before this particular letter was written was about eight years. Communication in the ancient world was limited, and Paul must have been thrilled to get news of the believers in Ephesus that they were strong in their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
This spiritual strength was demonstrated by their acts of love to other believers. Then Paul assured this church that he had been regularly praying for them throughout the years of his absence — he had not forgotten them — and he was so thankful that God had answered his prayer for this special group of people.
Paul’s prayers was to encourage this particular group of believers in their spiritual growth.
Bible Study on the First Prayer in Ephesians
Ephesians 1:17 –
“That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him” (KJV)
In this verse, all three Persons of the Godhead are seen. Paul begins his prayer addressing God the Father. When we pray, it is normal to begin our prayer by saying something like, “Dear Heavenly Father…” which is addressing our prayers to God in heaven.
Jesus Himself showed this when He taught His disciples to pray in Luke 11:2 saying, “Our Father which art in heaven” (KJV). The position of Christ is also shown in this verse. Our Lord Jesus Christ worships God as well. God the Father is His God, too. Paul calls God, “the father of glory,” recognizing that God is the source of all glory.
This is a deep statement that is humanly impossible to fully comprehend since we have no idea of the greatness of the glory of God. But Paul wants us to stretch our minds a bit and attempt to understand some of the glory of God. He wanted God to give them “the spirit of wisdom and revelation.” This is referring to the Holy Spirit. With this reference to the Holy Spirit, the triune Godhead is complete.
Every believer is sealed with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13), so every believer has the Holy Spirit in them. But what Paul desired for these saints was that they would have spiritual wisdom, which comes from the indwelling Holy Spirit, to teach them about God Himself.
“The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.” (KJV)
Paul continues his prayer to God asking for three distinct requests in this verse. First, he wants the Ephesians believers to understand, to correctly perceive the truth that God has for them. Paul knew that human understanding has been corrupted by sin, so first things first, Paul asked God to enlighten, to “wipe away the corrosion” of understanding in God’s people.
This should be the desire of every believer today. We don’t understand spiritual things correctly, therefore, we need God to show us. This request of Paul’s is similar to when we ask God for wisdom and direction in our lives, but Paul’s request is focused primarily on the spiritual aspect.
The reason why Paul wanted their eyes of understanding to be enlightened was for a particular and two-fold purpose: so that they would (1) “know what is the hope of his calling,” and (2) “the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.” While Paul used two phrases, the general idea of both phrases is about the great depth of spiritual blessings that God has given every believer in Jesus Christ.
“The hope of his calling” is a reference to salvation and the privilege of being a child of God. The Ephesians, before they were converted to Christianity, had very little hope in the future and none beyond the grave.
The second blessing that Paul desires and prays for on their behalf is that they would know (understand) “the riches of the glory of his inheritance.” Another way to phrase this is to say “riches of His glorious inheritance.”
An inheritance is an estate that belongs to a parent’s children, an undeserved possession, but a certain possession receivable only after the death of the parent. Heaven is a glorious inheritance for the children of God. He will delight in giving it to us, even as we should look forward to receiving this great, undeserved, and wonderful gift.
The Ephesian believers were not unlike us today. While we see ourselves as “a child of the King,” and rightly so, many times we only concentrate on the physical blessings that we both have, and hope to get, from God, rather than seeking to understand and appreciate the depth of spiritual blessings He has given us and will give us.
Like the believers in Ephesus, we also need to have our eyes of understanding enlightened to better understand spiritual things in this physical world.
“And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power.” (KJV)
As Paul is continuing his prayer, he now switches to talking about God’s power. He uses the word “power” twice in this verse, stating that God’s power is exceedingly great and also “mighty.” Again, God’s awesome power is not something that humans can fully comprehend, but Paul is praying that they (and us, too, as we read over the shoulders of the Ephesian believers) would at least get a glimpse of this.
God’s great power bridges both the physical and spiritual realm. The creation of the world is an example of God’s power, and it is still by the same power that all things consist (Colossians 1:17).
“Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places.” (KJV)
In this verse, Paul uses the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and an example that demonstrated God’s power. Raising Christ from the dead was an expression of physical power.
But God transcends the physical world, as Paul pointed out in this verse, when God, after physically raising Christ from the dead, took Him to heaven and placed His right hand “in the heavenly places.” Again, Paul is trying to get these believers to look past the physical world and into the spiritual and heavenly realm.
“Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:” (KJV)
Paul, in this verse, continues to exalt and the share the greatness of Jesus Christ. He reigns above all. He is greater than all things, all powers, all governments in this world, and all that will be in the next world. God’s power in exalting Jesus Christ to such a great degree, both in this world and in the world to come, shows God’s power.
If He has the ability to promote Christ to such a grand position after He raised Him physically, God has the power, and the ability, to control all things far more than we are aware. Getting a glimpse of the greatness of Jesus Christ by God’s power can only be done with the eyes of faith and having our understanding enlightened.
“And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church.” (KJV)
This verse is a continuation that tells of the greatness of Jesus Christ, which He has because of the mighty power of God. Jesus Christ is over all things; all things are under His feet. He is the head of all things. He is both the head of and caretaker of the church.
The word “church” means “a called-out assembly consisting of individuals.” Of all the things that God has put under the feet of Jesus Christ, the church is not under Him, but rather, a part of Him. In fact, since all born-again Christian believers are part of the church, they are part of Jesus Christ. That being the case, all things are under them, too.
“Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.” (KJV)
This verse explains more exactly what is the church referred to in the proceeding verse. While Christ is the head of the church, the church is His body, the body of Christ, and is a reference to all individuals who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior from hell.
This vast body of believers, which composes the body of Jesus Christ, includes all individuals, both those who have already passed on from this world, those presently alive, and those who will yet be added in the future after they have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior. He is the head of this vast, wonderful, body of Christian believers.
Since He is the head and He is in heaven, then those who are part of His body, the church, can also realize that they, too, are placed in heavenly positions. And since Christ is the head of the church, His body, it is a comforting assurance that He will take care of all of the individuals who compose His body.
Summary of the First Ephesians Prayer
This first prayer in Ephesians is all about spiritual matters — the glory of God, the power of God, heaven, the greatness of Jesus Christ, and His relationship with His body that consists of His people.
When comparing this prayer, and even the second prayer in Ephesians to the way that Jesus taught His disciples to pray, they are quite different. These prayers are for mature Christians, while the prayer that Jesus taught was for more recent Christians who had to grow in their trust and walk with God. While Jesus included the spiritual and heaven in His prayer, “they kingdom come,” He also included a request for basic physical needs “give us this day our daily bread.”
It takes faith, time, and Christian growth be able to understand, comprehend, and more fully appreciate these deep spiritual prayers of Paul, and even more spiritual maturity to be able to sincerely pray this or a similar prayer for either us or our loved ones.
The Second Ephesians Prayer
The second prayer of Paul in Ephesians is in Ephesians 3:14-21.
For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. (KJV)
This is the more well-known Ephesian prayer. While the first prayer in Ephesians was more general, this prayer is more specific to the individual. Again, the emphasis is on the spiritual rather than the physical. This is a good prayer to pattern your own personal prayers for either yourself, or for others, so that they can grow in their personal walk with God.
Bible Study Prayer Points of the Second Prayer in Ephesians
For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (KJV)
Paul starts this prayer with praying to God the Father. Immediately, while praying to God the Father, Paul mentions the Lord Jesus Christ. While we usually close our prayers with naming Christ, he started his prayer in the name of Jesus Christ.
He also mentions his prayer position, that of bowing his knees. While there is no one particular prayer position, praying in a kneeling position to Almighty God shows reverence and humility, as well as an acceptance of the final answer of the prayer.
“Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.”(KJV)
Under the umbrella of God the Father is His family. His family consists of those in heaven as well as those who are on Earth. While at the first glance, the family members may include all those individuals who have accepted God as their Father by faith but have since died, including all of the Old Testament saints, as well as believers still living on Earth.
There could also be a broader definition, which includes the angels who did not participate in Lucifer’s rebellion but chose instead to honor and serve God.
No matter which definition Paul had in mind when he prayed this prayer, what is comforting is that every believer is a part of God’s family.
“That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man” (KJV)
Paul, referring to God the Father, again makes mention of God’s glorious riches. These riches are not what we may commonly think of as “riches,” since Paul is not referring to money or expensive valuables. But the source of this great spiritual blessing, the spirit of God. The “inner man” mentioned here is a reference to the spiritual inner being, the soul of an individual.
“That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love.” (KJV)
There are two important elements of the Christian life mentioned in this verse: faith and love. When we have the faith to accept Christ as our Savior, He dwells in our hearts.
As He is a part of our life, in our heart, we need to allow Him, by way of the Holy Spirit, to have a great love toward Him. When He is in us, we should be reflecting His love, both back to Him in our obedience in our Christian life, and to all of God’s people.
“May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height.” (KJV)
Paul’s desire for the believers in Ephesus was a majestic one. He wanted them to understand the fullness of God’s love. The word saints is simply a reference to God’s people. This request is so great and vast that Paul’s prayer for this will surely be answered, but only when we are with God in heaven.
“And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” (KJV)
Only when we will be like God, living in the heavenly realm with our human shells removed, can we be filled with the fullness of God. Truly — especially in this life — the love of Christ is beyond our knowledge. While we may glimpse it through the work of the Holy Spirit, this is something that, in this life, God’s people can only look forward to experiencing.
“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.” (KJV)
This is a marvelous promise and a wonderful way to end any prayer. We serve and pray to a God is able to do great things beyond our knowledge, our understanding, or comprehension, and do abundantly more than what our minds can think, much less ask!
While this promise can be prayed for and claimed, and even seen in part in this life, what God has in store for His obedient people who He loves, and who love Him in return, is beyond imagination.
Paul may have chosen to end his prayer in this way, thinking that the great blessings he had taught the people at Ephesus to expect may have been too much for sinful humans to believe that God would be willing to give to them.
“Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” (KJV)
Paul ends his glorious prayer with a rousing doxology, a way of giving glory to God. Unto Him, that is, God the Father, Paul knows there will be glory in the church because of Christ Jesus and His work of salvation throughout the ages.
The song of praise begun on Earth because of the power of God, and the love of His Son, Jesus Christ, will be continue in heaven and will never end; it will be continuous throughout eternity. Paul simply ends his prayer with the simple word, “Amen.” Amen means “so be it,” and truly, so let this be not only in this life and but throughout eternity.
Summary of the Second Ephesians Prayer
While Paul started his prayer kneeling, it would seem that by the end of his prayer, he was rejoicing, perhaps even inwardly leaping with joy, at the thoughts and the words that he was sharing with the Ephesian believers.
While this prayer is eloquent, it almost seemed Paul was searching for the right words, and was unable to find the correct words to convey the glories of heaven. The language of heaven seems to translate poorly into our earthly wording.
But the meaning is clear that heaven is glorious, and because of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, He has opened and offered the way there. The fact that a holy and self-sustaining God desires the presence of sinful humans to be with Him is one of both wonder and delight.
May you too rejoice with Paul as he prayed for the Ephesian believers and even us today these glorious prayers!
Check out some ideas to incorporate the concept of a “prayer room” into your Christian life.