“Prayer for Enlightened Hearts” (Series: From the Mountain Peak)
Scripture: Ephesians 1:15-19
Paul prays for the Ephesian believers in both Ephesians 1:15-23 and Ephesians 3:14-19 that they would know the gospel with more than just their heads but that they would grasp the gospel with their hearts. This happens through prayer as the Holy Spirit leads gospel information in your head to gospel transformation in your heart. Experiencing the power of the gospel doesn’t simply occur when you learn more. The Spirit takes the benefits and blessings of the gospel and seals it on believers’ hearts so that we might experience now a foretaste of the glorious realities to come.
This prayer is aimed toward believers, not unbelievers, because it’s clear that even Christians can hear the gospel and be unchanged by it. Many times we read God’s Word, hear it preached and shared with us and yet it remains irrelevant to us. Gospel truths remain propositions to consider and never become power to change. So in response, Paul asks the Holy Spirit to illuminate the gospel realities of Ephesians 1:3-14 into the hearts of Christians. This is why he asks the Spirit of wisdom and revelation to enlighten the eyes of our hearts. When we pray and make the same request of the Spirit, the gospel begins to connect with us because it begins to connect in us, our head and our heart.
So how does abstract knowledge begin to be of actual good for us? Paul prays for three doctrines to become present realities in believers hearts to transform us. These three things are summaries of the benefits of the gospel: our hope, inheritance and God’s power.
1. Our hope in salvation means not that we will be forgiven at some future time but that we are forgiven this very moment. God has called us to himself through Christ and has already begun saving us (he has justified us – made us right with God; he is sanctifying us – making us more like God; he will glorify us – make us finally and wholly renewed). But already that means God is pleased with us today in Christ, not just that he will be pleased with us when we enter heaven. We’re transformed now to live under the delight and smile of God as his children.
2. The riches of our glorious inheritance is not material riches but spiritual ones. However spiritual riches are not a future possession but a present one. We have obtained an inheritance (Eph. 1:11) and God has already blessed us with every spiritual blessing (Eph. 1:3). So we don’t live as people who will one day be rich but who are rich in Christ right now with the wealth that truly matters. We’re transformed now to become generous people with every form of currency we can offer others, material, financial, time, energy and comfort.
3. The power of God that he works in us is resurrection power that he worked in raising Jesus from the dead. This is a power that overcame the grave and overturned evil and sin forever. When this power is at work in believers, we can both triumphantly resist sin and victoriously strive after holiness. Sin is not too great and holiness not too hard that believers are discouraged from slaying their sin and pursuing their holiness. We’re transformed now to fight sin not with the strength of our own wills but with the power of God that he makes available to us.
Jesus makes the blessings of the gospel available to us by his grace which is received through faith. In the same way, all that he makes real in our lives by his Spirit is to be received through prayer. Just as faith is not earning and achieving the blessings of the gospel, so prayer is not earning and achieving the experience of the gospel. But by prayer the Spirit is pleased to enlighten the eyes of our hearts to live out in our hearts what we possess and know in our heads.
In response, when we receive gospel information we should learn the habit of asking the Spirit through prayer to make it become gospel transformation in our lives. Whether that’s through personal Bible reading, through hearing a sermon or through receiving gospel encouragement through others (relationships, articles, books, etc).
Suggested Group Discussion Questions
- Agree or disagree: It is easier to accumulate gospel information in your heads than it is to experience gospel transformation in your hearts. Why do you think this is? Related: Why do you think people are more satisfied with a discipleship that focuses on learning gospel information rather than undergoing gospel transformation?
- What are some realities and truths of the gospel that you want to be able to live out of and want more deeply impressed on your heart? (*you can look at Ephesians 1:3-14 if you need some help) What would look differently about your Christian life if these gospel truths were experienced and evidenced?
- Doxology: Express how this sermon helps you understand, appreciate and worship Jesus more. In what ways has the gospel become more alive to you having read this passage and heard this sermon?
- Response: Formulate a one sentence prayer that’s informed by the passage and the sermon. This prayer should articulate what you desire to walk away and how you want God to apply it in your life. Have a few people share what they came up with.