Monday, 11 July 2016
…do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: Ephesians 1:16
It is common to Paul’s letters to have such a statement, or a part of such a statement, included in the early portion of them. In some letters, the stress is on the thanks, in others is it on the prayers. The letter to the Galatians noticeably skips over this general sentiment though. He had greater concerns with them.
With the Ephesians, he notes that he does not “cease to give thanks for” them. He was far distant from them and knew that he may never see them again, but he could communicate with them and hear of their continued faith in the Lord. The previous verse noted that he had heard of their “faith in the Lord Jesus and [their] love for all the saints” and he was overjoyed at this. The knowledge of their steadfastly holding to the gospel which had been presented to them was a source of joy and elation, leading to constant thanks.
But more than just thanks, he tells them of his “making mention of” them in his prayers. He not only thanked God for their current state, but he also petitioned God for this to continue, for them to be strengthened and emboldened in their walk, to be protected and safe from the wiles of the devil, and to be comforted in their trials and tribulations.
He uses the same term, “making mention,” in both Romans 1:9 and Philemon 1:4. Paul was a faithful friend and a heartfelt prayer partner for those he so loved. As far as this constant thanks and prayer he mentioned, there is no reason to not believe it, just as he says it.
This doesn’t mean that Paul got on his knees, closed his eyes, and continued to be in thanks and prayer with the exception of taking time to eat or sleep. Rather, as he worked, as he walked, as he contemplated the many fruits of his labors, he took the time to thank God and pray for those he was so intimately connect to. It is reflective of his own admonition to those in Thessalonica to “pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
Later in this epistle, he will speak of spiritual warfare in great detail. He knew that a part of that warfare was to continue in praise to God, and also to continue in petition to Him. In particular, see verse 6:18 concerning this.
Life application: Even though God already knows the end from the beginning, and even though the plan is complete in His mind, this should not lead us to a fatalistic view of life where prayers are ignored. Rather, our prayers are figured into the plan, just as our free-will calling on Jesus is figured into the plan. If we don’t receive Jesus, we will not be saved. Likewise, prayers that are unuttered can never be heard. God’s foreknowledge of all things outside of time factor in our actions within the stream of time. Pray!
Heavenly Father, one of the marvelous things You have granted to the sons of men is the opportunity to pray. We can open our hearts to You, and You hear and respond according to Your grace and mercy. As Jesus is the Mediator between our prayers and Your ears, we can know that only those prayers offered through Him can be accepted by You. And so, we offer them to You in His name – the perfect Mediator who stands between fallen us and perfect You. Thank You that our prayers are heard because of Him. Amen.