What a difference the Holy Spirit makes

What a difference the Holy Spirit makes

For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him,18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church,23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. – Ephesians 1:15-23


Paul prays for the Ephesians for three things:

  1. That you may know the hope to which he has called you
  2. What are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints
  3. What is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe

These are powerful subjects, and I may treat them in a different post, but for now, I want to put the emphasis elsewhere.

Recently I was speaking with a brother who shared with me and some others that he had heard from some who said they intellectually really understand the gospel but find they don’t have the passion and emotional attachment to it that many others talk about.

I am currently listening on Audible to Jonathan Edwards’ classic book The Religious Affections: How Man’s Will Affects His Character Before God. I will undoubtedly be simplifying his statement, but here goes. True religion (speaking of Christianity in 17th century American English) always affects our emotions and has an emotional component to it. If we are not moved emotionally by the gospel and by God’s revelation of himself in Scripture, then the reality of our Christianity is questionable.  I know, this gets really dicey telling someone that if they don’t have an emotional experience they aren’t saved. Well, that’s not what I am saying, and I’m not sure what Edwards is saying about that; I am still in the early parts of the book.

What Edwards is saying is that powerful emotions are normative for a believer. Consider the deeply emotional passages written by David in the Psalms. How about Paul’s exultations over Christ in the epistles? There are many others.

I want to encourage any readers who find their emotional life with God lacking. I’m not writing that everyone should be “falling under the power,’ or dancing through the congregation every service. I am saying; you should have an emotional connection to Jesus Christ that is apparent to you and on occasion to others.

So, if you have an academic grasp of the gospel, but don’t have the emotional component (Which I am assuming everyone wants to have, how would it be to be in love with your spouse and feel no emotions?) there is an aid Paul refers to in his prayer. He prays for the Ephesians that God “may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened.” It’s a heart thing. Knowing in your head isn’t the same as knowing in your heart. The Holy Spirit is the agent who brings Jesus to your heart from your head. He comes as the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. He allows us to see with the eyes of our hearts, in addition to our physical eyes.

So, what is my solution to the problem of not having an emotional experience of God? Pray this prayer for yourself that Paul prays for the Ephesians. And don’t just pray once, memorize this Scripture and pray it every day. If you pray this from your heart, you will experience it in your heart. Of this, I am sure.

But I do caution, don’t gauge your experience by that of anyone else. Some of us, like me, are more on the quiet side of life. While I have been known to shout exuberantly in response to the preached word, I am generally more sedate than some of my friends. Two responses will mark the answer to your prayer; love and joy. These are the works of the Spirit that dwell deep in your heart.

Father of glory, grant to me the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Christ. Open the eyes of my heart. Enlighten me that I may know the hope to which you have called me. Enlighten me to know what are the riches of your glorious inheritance in me,  and enlighten me to what is the immeasurable greatness of your power toward us who believe, according to the working of your great might that you worked in Christ when you raised him from the dead and seated him at your right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.  And you put all things under your feet and gave Jesus as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Make this your genuine prayer, and you will soon know the emotional joy and love that accompanies the gospel. The eyes of your heart will be enlightened to see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ in the Scriptures.

A Prayer to Grasp the power of the Resurrection

A Prayer to Grasp the power of the Resurrection

For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Ephesians 1:15-23

Do you want your prayers to make a huge difference? Do you know how to pray powerful faith-filled prayers? Where would you go to learn to do this? It makes sense to me to go to a pro, someone who has experience with powerful praying. Where do I sign-up for that kind of coaching? How much will it cost? Only the cost of having a Bible and then the cost of using it effectively.

Too often, we Western Christians think the purpose of the Bible is to gain knowledge. Knowledge is certainly part of why God gave us the Scriptures. But it goes way beyond that. We are intended to put it to work in our lives with God. Faith must be mixed with the word for it to produce the intended effect in our lives. Consider Abraham.

In Genesis 22, God calls to Abraham and commands him to take his only son, Isaac, to a predetermined mountain and sacrifice him. Remember, God has promised Abraham that his descendants would be as the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, and those descendants would come through Isaac. Now God is telling Abraham to kill Isaac.

What impresses me greatly is that the next verse after this command (v.3) it reads, “So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him and his son Isaac.” Abraham did not hesitate but immediately obeyed God’s word to him. One of the implications of his obedience is that he believed that God would raise Isaac from the dead to fulfill his promise to Abraham. He heard God’s word, believed God’s word, and acted on God’s word. That is the nature of faith.

One of the most effective ways of bringing power to our prayer lives is to pray the word of God. I find it incredibly delicious to pray the prayers of Scripture. There are many of them scattered all through the Bible. The book of Psalms contains many short one verse long prayers that are powerful.

Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.

Psalm 90:14

Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.

Psalm 86:11

Open my eyes that I may see wondrous things out of your law.

Psalm 119:18

Incline my heart to your testimonies and not to selfish gain.

Psalm 119:36

These are short and powerful prayers. Pray them regularly with sincerity and see the changes that will happen in your life and the lives of those for whom you pray. This kind of praying makes prayer fun. I find it always fun to watch God work in my life and the lives of those for whom I pray.

Let’s go back to Paul’s prayer from Ephesians 1. I am recommending that we borrow Paul’s words because they are Holy Spirit inspired words that express God’s will. One key to answered prayer is to pray in God’s will. Right? So, praying valid inspired prayers means we are automatically praying God’s will. Let’s look at the components of this prayer.

Paul asks God to grant a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of God. This is key. The knowledge of God that will transform us into the image of Jesus does not come as an intellectual exercise. A seminary M.Div. Degree does not mean that the graduate has a heart knowledge of God. It also means that we who do not hold an M.Div. Degree are at a particular disadvantage from having an in-depth heart knowledge of God. What is required is the work of the Holy Spirit imparting to us himself as wisdom and revelation of God. I know for some the word “revelation” is scary, but that is what the Scripture says, so I will just go with it. And, I will say that revelation of the knowledge of God is not dependant on academics, but on the Holy Spirit.

Paul identifies some specific areas in which he wants the spirit of wisdom and revelation to function. He wants our hearts to be enlightened in:

  • Knowing the hope to which we are called
  • What are the riches of his glorious inheritance in us
  • The immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe

The hope to which we are called includes being conformed to the image of Jesus. Hallelujah! We are not stuck in our currently miserable condition but are guaranteed that we will be more and more like Jesus as we walk in the Spirit day by day. This truth of hope makes the tough times of life bearable and allows us to have joy during the darkest days. It also includes the hope of the New Heavens and New Earth in which righteousness dwells. What a glorious hope. We will be able to hang out with other people who have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus, who no longer have any trace of sin in their lives, and neither will we. That is a great hope, that is an assured but future promise.

The riches of his glorious inheritance in us is hard to get our minds around, let alone our hearts. I think one of the easiest ways for us to get a bit of a handle on this is to understand that we are Jesus’ bride. What groom isn’t excited about being united with his beautiful new bride? We who are of the male persuasion may have a more difficult time understanding what it feels like to be a bride since we only get to be a groom. But, do your best, guys. Jesus sees us as his glorious bride; we are his inheritance. He wants us to have that heightened view of who we are in Christ. I dare say the only way we get there is through the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ. This is way beyond academics.

Finally, the point that Paul takes pains to declare is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe. I think we in the Western Church need a special dose of the Spirit of wisdom and revelation when it comes to our realization of the greatness of God’s power toward us as believers. The prayer lives of many of us remain impotent because we really have no clue about the power of God toward us that he demonstrated in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in heavenly places. That place is described as being far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, the various levels of demonic power that Satan intends to use against us. After his resurrection, Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and earth is given unto me, go, therefore…” He who has all authority and power has commissioned us, and we are to go into this world under that authority. He also instructed us to ask in his name, the name of the one with ALL authority and power. If he has it all, then that means that his enemies have none. May the Holy Spirit grant us an understanding of this truth.

What better prayer to pray for yourself, your family, and especially new believers in Christ who know little of him but need the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ in all three of these areas?

May we grasp God’s truth and immediately act on it, in Jesus’ name.

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