Personalizing Paul’s Prayers (Ephesians 1:15-23; 3:14-21)

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The Ephesians prayers from Paul are powerful, and we can pray them over ourselves.

Before we dive into the prayers of the Apostle Paul for the Ephesian believers, allow me to provide a little context to these portions of Scripture.

The Book of Ephesians was written by Paul while under house arrest.

His intended audience was the Ephesian Church – he was writing to his brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus.

Jesus had already been crucified, risen, and ascended into heaven, and Paul was zealous in his passionate pursuit to spread the truth of Jesus Christ.

I doubt Paul ever minimized the importance and impact of prayer. 

Far from a sense of obligation, half-hearted murmurings, or mindless repetition, Paul knew when he poured his heart out to God it was never in vain.

We’re blessed to have a window into Paul’s intimate moments of prayer where we can read the requests he made on behalf of his brothers and sisters in Christ.

Paul prayed the kinds of prayers that move the heart of our God – heartfelt, sincere, and in faith.

Prayers of Paul in Ephesians

1. Paul’s first Ephesians Prayer

The first time Paul prayed for the Ephesians is recorded in the first chapter, and it was a prayer for enlightenment.

“For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better. I pray also 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 the saints, and His incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of His mighty strength, which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at the right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under His feet and appointed Him to be head over everything for the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way.” Ephesians 1:15-23

 Paul prays for the spiritual blessing in verse 17, “May give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may KNOW HIM better.”

Paul is not referring to abstract knowledge about God, nor is he referring to obtaining mere intellectual or factual information about Him. 

Paul is referring to knowing Him personally and intimately. 

There’s a huge distinction between those two things.

During the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, the United States gymnast Mary Lou Retton won America’s Heart, and mine was no exception.

Her pictures decorated the walls in my bedroom like wallpaper. I read every article book, or article about her I could get my hands on, and I hung on her every word when she was interviewed on television.

I knew all there was to know about Mary Lou Retton, factually speaking. I knew enough to successfully write a book report about her in the fifth grade that was so well written the teacher accused me of plagiarizing! Little did she know my good work was not based on any book; I pulled all the information from memory.

I may have known a lot of factual information about Mary Lou Retton, but if I were in a room with her best friend or mom, they would have insight to Mary Lou I would know nothing about. They would be able to describe her character, personality, preferences, and even her struggles.

The nature of their relationship was very different – they knew her intimately and have a close, thriving relationship with her. I would just be a fan… a stranger to Mary Lou that probably tarried a little too close to creepy with all of the details I knew about her!

Paul is referring to knowing God, not just knowing about him.

He’s asking God to give insight to the people of Ephesus in order to grasp God’s truth in such a way as to know Him personally and more intimately. To obtain His perspective and strive to grow beyond having a mere temporal perspective and develop more into an eternal one.

Ephesians 1:17 written out

God alone gives wisdom and revelation, and Paul asks the Spirit of God to pour out these blessings.

We can define wisdom as insight into truth, and the true nature of things. Taking theological truths from God’s Word and applying them to everyday situations requires wisdom from God.

Revelation is deep insight acquired, or an unveiling of truth enabling a further grasp on God’s perspective. Discernment to see beyond what is evident and the natural world. To perceive God’s sovereign hand through the fabric of all that exists.

I don’t know about you, but I desperately want both of those things in my life.

I know I am a woman in desperate need of God’s wisdom and revelation, so I ask Him for these things regularly.

I also regularly ask God to bless my husband and our children with God’s wisdom and discernment.

James tells us in James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”

That’s a promise from God to me and you — if we ask God for wisdom, He’ll give it to us. 

I’m convinced of my need and I know it’s daily – not just when I’m faced with a big decision, a life-changing move, or a crossroads in a relationship. 

I need God’s wisdom every day and in all things. 

  • How I prioritize my time. We’re torn in so many directions in ways we can invest our time. I need God’s wisdom to know what things to say “no” to do in order to free me to say “yes” to things He’s called me to do.
  • ​The relationships I invest in.
  • How I use the resources God has entrusted to me. A few examples include my financial resources, my energy, and the spiritual gifts entrusted to me for the glory of God. 
  • My words. The conversations I have with people throughout my day.

Paul prays for the Ephesians to have an enlightened heart in verse 18.

When the heart is referenced in the Word of God, its implication is that the heart is regarded as the center of the physical, mental, and spiritual life of humans, according to the Holman Bible Dictionary, This definition goes on the describe the heart as more than the center of physical life as an essential organ in the body, the heart is tied to the intellect, act of the will, feelings, affections, and emotions of a person.

Paul is asking that God would enlighten the eyes of their heart so that they would know three things about their position in Christ: one from the past, one to be fulfilled in the future, and one thing to be appropriated in the present.

All of God’s people can rejoice in these blessings that are ours when we’re rightly related to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Let’s look at all three of these blessings that Paul mentioned, from the past, future, and present.

The hope to which He has called you. (Past)

The calling Paul is referring to is not a specific job, location, or area of ministry. He is referring to our calling in Christ, and our position in Him that was made forever secure the moment we proclaimed Him our Savior and the indwelling Holy Spirit took residence in you.

The riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints. (Future)

The riches Paul is referring to here are in the future. When we meet Jesus face to face and glory, we will bask in the presence of our Lord, lacking nothing. The Holy Spirit was placed within us as a guarantee of what is to come – this guarantee will be manifested in complete wholeness. 

We will be in our glorified bodies. Without tears, ailments, sickness, sadness, or pain. What glory awaits us… we cannot even begin to imagine.

His incomparably great power for us who believe. (Present)

Here is the present tense request Paul makes for the Ephesians. The original word for power in this verse is dunamis. The literal meaning of this word, according to Strong’s Concordance, is “miraculous power”. Paul further magnifies this power by saying it’s incomparably great. It’s taking a supernatural power we cannot even fathom and elevating it even more.

Though this is out of our grasp to understand intellectually, we can know it, and that’s Paul’s prayer.

How is this possible? Paul answers in verses 20-23,” It is the very same power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in heaven.”

That same power lives in you and me. That, my friend, should fill us with great humility, gratitude, hope, and joy.

2. Paul’s second Ephesians Prayer

Paul prays a second time for the people of Ephesus as he gets on his hands and knees.

His second prayer is a Prayer for empowerment.

“For this reason, I kneel before the Father, from whom His whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of His glorious riches, He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being so that Christ made well in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high in deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen  Ephesians 3:14-21

Paul prays, ”Out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.”

Every person can relate to a struggle with weariness and a desire for inner strength.

A lifelong quest unfolds as people search for relief from weariness, and the means to acquire inner strength.

The point of contention in our pursuit is the fact we’re incapable of providing the relief we desperately search for and long for in our own attempts or resources.

That doesn’t stop us from trying, however, and eventually, the methods we utilize prove to be an exercise in futility.

We’re unable to acquire inner strength:

  • In our own ability, nor can we create it
  • No other person can give this to us or equip us to acquire this.
  • No other knowledge source can illuminate a path to acquire inner strength.
  • No experience on Earth can compare to or rival what only the Holy Spirit can do.

The only authentic source of empowerment and strength is solely through the Holy Spirit.

Authentic, lasting, and genuine inner strength comes only from the power of the Holy Spirit.

This explains why self-help books, courses, and teaching don’t provide lasting results and why another person is not able to be your all-in-all.

The empowerment of the Holy Spirit is not determined by our emotions or whether we feel strong; the power of God transcends our feelings.

Ephesians 3:16 written out

Sometimes when I cry out for the Lord to strengthen me in the midst of weariness and exhaustion, I need to believe His truth over my feelings.

Just the other day, I was walking into a dark situation very early in the morning where I knew I needed to be totally dependent on the power of the Spirit to strengthen me to get through my day in victory.

I was physically exhausted after sleeping less than 4 hours. I was worn out mentally, and emotionally I felt fragile. To top it all off, I was walking into an oppressive environment.

As I prayed for strength I quoted several Scriptures, including the following verse that declares me as being “More than a conqueror in Christ” from Romans 8:37.

Did I feel strong? Nope, just the opposite – I felt so weak.

Did I feel able to conquer? Not in the least. 

Thank God for the last two words of Romans 8:37 that explain how I was able to describe myself as “more than a conqueror…” 


I’m unable to conquer one thing exempt from Jesus.

I felt like a weakling and clung to the truth that when I’m weak, He is strong.

Despite my feelings, I chose to lean into the truth of that verse telling me that because of my position in Christ, I am more than a conqueror in Christ.

Because of my identity in Christ, I knew it was possible for me to walk through my day as a spiritual victor, not a victim.

No follower of Jesus ever has to be a spiritual victim. Satan has no power or authority to keep you in a place of spiritual captivity or bondage – you can break free from any stronghold and be victorious in spiritual warfare.

Paul beautifully describes the comprehensive, consuming love of Jesus in a way that makes me visualize a cross as he offers his plea for the Ephesians to grasp the following attributes regarding the great love of Jesus.

How wide. As far as the east is from the west, his omnipresence knows no bounds. Wide enough to encompass everyone.

How long. He is the Alpha and the Omega; He was, is, and is to come. Every moment of time we occupy on this planet from the moment we drew in our first breath until our last. He is eternal.

How high. In the midst of elation and joy… And when our time on earth is done, we have the confident hope that He will take us to glory.

How deep. His love is deep enough for any sin or knee. Even to the depths of despair, depression, illness, morning – even death.

When Paul says he wants the Ephesians to “know this love that surpasses knowledge”, he is not referring to me or intellectual understanding, but the ability to experientially know the love of Christ.

We need to intellectually understand what Scripture says about God’s love. Then we need to choose to believe it. Here we’re told we can also experience His love.

We can’t completely wrap our minds around God’s love for us, but we can bask in it, trust it, know it, and experience it: 

  • Even when we don’t feel lovable.
  • Even when we feel undeserving.
  • In the midst of persecution. 
  • When facing turmoil or great pain. 
  • In the midst of heartache. 
  • When we’re mourning.
  • During illness. 
  • When we battle the flesh desires of the inner man with temptation.
  • When our loved ones mistreat, leave, or reject us. 
  • When our world is flipped upside down and inside out.

God’s love is:

  • Constant. 
  • Fierce. 
  • Unchanging.
  • Perfect.
Pin for 2 Powerful Prayers from Scripture for enlightenment and empowerment

And His glorious grace is lavished upon us.

One of my dearest friends and greatest mentors was Wilda Koerth. 

Wilda is now enjoying eternity with Jesus, but her impact on my life was tremendous. 

Wilda always used to say to me, “If only we (referring to the Body of Christ) could truly grasp how much God loves us. We just don’t realize how much he loves us, Honey. And we don’t think about it enough.”

Wilda used to say this so often it became extremely repetitive and I’m embarrassed to admit I started to tune her out after hearing the same thing over and over. I didn’t forget her words, however, and she would take great joy if she were still here today to hear me quote her followed by the statement, “Wilda was exactly right”.

The most frequent prayer request I make for myself, my husband, and my children is that God would give each one of us a heart that knows and loves Him.

After studying this portion of Scripture, I want to add to that prayer and ask God to deepen our understanding of His lavish love for us. That the Lord would open our eyes and hearts to see, know, and experience His agape perfect love in personal and powerful ways that would allow us to see and declare,” That’s God demonstrating His love for me!”

Old stone building

I’m reminded of the amazing truth that we’re only able to love Him because he first loved us. (1 John 4: 19) 

I never tire to thank God for His amazing grace that saved a wretch like me – undeserving as I am.

Wilda would be so proud if she could read these words. I can just hear her saying, “You finally got it in your computer, Honey.” (She’d always refer to my mind as my computer.)

We’re rooted and established in God’s love, and His love is His driving force in His pursuit of us.

I’d be honored to pray with you:

Dear Heavenly Father, we’re so thankful for your love, grace, and mercy. We come humbly, yet confidently before you asking you to open the eyes of our heart to your truth, revealing yourself to each one of us. in a personal and powerful way. Fill us with your wisdom, revelation, and discernment.  And Lord would you empower us with inner strength, by your Spirit? We may never fully comprehend your love with our minds, but we’re so thankful we can know and experience it. Help us to yield to your authority and surrender our desires, thoughts, and plans to you. It is in the precious and holy name of Jesus we pray, Amen

The material from this post is adapted from “Anchor Your Identity in Christ: An In-Depth Bible Study on the Book of Ephesians by Jennifer Brooks

You and I can pray portions of the Ephesians prayers to grow in our relationship with the Lord.

Related to Paul’s Prayers in Ephesians:

Prayer Warriors from the Bible 

Heartfelt Prayer to God

12 Prayers to Grow Closer in your relationship to God

Put on the Full Armor of God

Prayers for Strength and Endurance

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  1. Very good post. Sometimes it’s so hard to understand really how little we have to do to be saved. Seems almost too good to be true, I mean to recognize God as my almighty savior and the fact that I cannot be saved but through him seems an easy ask for eternal salvation. Very hard to know/understand that the Holy Spirit is truly with me always.

    1. The words of Amazing Grace went through my mind as I read your comment. “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found… was blind, but now I see.”

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