My pastor has encouraged our church members to adopt a new habit. When we go to restaurants and eat, he has suggested that we ask our waiter/waitress if we can pray for them. Now, part of the ground rules if we do that, is that we are supposed to be sure to leave them a good tip. My wife and I don’t always remember to ask our server if we can pray for them, but when we do and they tell us what we can pray for, it can be powerful.
Sometimes people ask me to pray for them and they don’t give me anything specific. It’s the generic, “pray for me” that we use so often. The response, of course, is “You know I will.” And as we walk away we aren’t sure how to pray, and then, by the end of the day we forget. We remember later and feel guilty so we mutter something like, “God, bless them real good,” and breathe a sigh of relief. Paul taught us how he prayed, and it’s powerful. Here is just a small part of a prayer he lifted for the Ephesians. “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” (Ephesians 3:16-17a)
Wow! The whole prayer passage in Ephesians 3 is amazing. The overall emphasis of the prayer is on knowing God and His love. To know His love though, Christ needs to dwell in our hearts through faith. This is grace. It’s amazing that Christ would dwell in our hearts, given our sinful condition. In order to do that, He needs to forgive us. He does. And so Paul not only recognized Christ dwelling in his heart, he realized that he needed to pray for others to experience Christ’s love and grace. Paul had spent a lot of time in Ephesus, so he understood their needs as he prayed for them. When you read this prayer, though, you can pray it for anyone and be confident that you are praying the right thing for them.
This is the kind of prayer we should remember when we pray for our political leaders. We are told to do that and, if the political leader is one we don’t like, we grumble when we’re reminded of this obligation, or should I say privilege, and if we are obedient, we may end up muttering something like, “Lord, get that politician on the right path.” What if, instead of attacking our political leaders, or our religious leaders, or our bosses at work even, we prayed this prayer for them? What would happen if Christians everywhere prayed for this power for our leaders? I think we would see some amazing changes.
Lord, I pray this for each person reading this thought, for political and religious leaders everywhere, especially those who don’t know you yet. “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. 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.”