Prayers Shaped by Grace
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and 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 (Ephesians 3:17b-19).
The Christian life is by grace through faith in Jesus. Grace is the fuel that moves you, that transforms you, that shapes all that you are and all you do as a believer. It even shapes the way you pray. There’s no greater example of this than the Apostle Paul. His prayers were shaped and centered in the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.
In the book of Ephesians, Paul offers two powerful grace-filled prayers. The significant aspects of both are the attitude in which Paul prayed and the requests that he made.
Paul always prayed with a heart of thankfulness. Interestingly, the word “thanks” is the Greek word eucharisteo. At the heart of this word is grace, charis in the Greek. Paul’s thankful attitude was a response to the grace of God.
Think about all that the grace of God has brought to your life. By grace, God made you alive in Christ. He redeemed you, reconciled you, forgave your sins, justified you, gave you a new identity and sent his Spirit to live in you. And all of this is true of you regardless of your circumstances. It’s no wonder that Paul encouraged you to give thanks in all things. So, when you pray, let it be filled with thankfulness.
Next, prayers that are shaped by grace make requests that matter. Here’s what Paul asked for on your behalf.
- That you may know Jesus better.
- That you may know the hope to which he has called you.
- That you may know his incomparably great power for you who believe.
- That Christ may be at home in your heart.
- That you understand and experience the height and depth and length and breadth of the love of God.
- That you will be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Paul doesn’t ask God to fulfill fleshly or shallow desires. He doesn’t ask for Band-Aid solutions to real life problems. He requests things that will affect you at the core of who you are – things that will bring about powerful and enduring change in your life.
Grace-based prayers are filled with thankfulness. They request the qualities and characteristics that affect you at the very center of your being.
Let me ask. What would happen if you started to pray to know Jesus better, or to know the hope that you have in Christ, or to gain a deeper understanding of the love of God? What if you adopted the passage from Ephesians as your personal prayers?