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.

How to effectively pray for your children

How to effectively pray for your children

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. – 1 John5:13-14

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. – James 1:5

I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. – Ephesians 3:14-21

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. – Philippians 1:9-11

…we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;11 being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy… – Colossians 1:9-11

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 1:16-23

Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
    that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. = Psalm 90:14


Every Christian parent aches for their children to have a deep and abiding faith in Christ more than anything else. Am I pollyannaish about this? I don’t think so.

I do realize that when things are going well, we tend to be more superficial. That is natural. But when the going gets rough, we tend to move toward the things of true value. Then our true desires for our children come to the forefront. We want them to truly know God and have that deep abiding faith that will carry them through the tough times in this life and on to the joys of the New Heaven and New Earth where righteousness dwells.

Whether your children are young or adults, we as parents still have a priestly duty to pray for them. When they are very young, our prayers are more prophylactic. We want to protect them from the ravages of sin and see them walk with God their whole lives. Many of us experience the pain of wayward children who are adults. We watch their unnecessary pain brought on by foolishness and sin. Our prayers for them, however, aren’t much different. I believe the most powerful prayers are those saturated with the Word of God. Pray the Word for your children.

I want to share a “sample prayer” with you. You may want to take this as is and begin to pray this way for your kids. You may see the pattern and have other Scriptures that better apply to your situation. This isn’t a formula but an example of how to pray the Word over your children.

THE JOY OF GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY AND YOUR PRAYERS

For some of us, it seems the sovereignty of God precludes prayer. On the contrary. The sovereignty of God facilitates powerful praying. Because God is sovereign, I can have the confidence that he can and will change my wayward child’s heart. If I didn’t have confidence in his sovereign control, how could I pray in faith that he will change a heart to love God and walk with him?  “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” God’s sovereignty is my comfort.

If you’re not sure how to pray for your children, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”

SAMPLE PRAYER

Father, for my children, I pray:

Strengthen their hearts with power by your Spirit in the inner man so that Christ will dwell in their hearts by faith. Being rooted and grounded in love, may they comprehend the breadth and length and height and depth of the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge and be filled with all the fullness of God. I trust you to do this because you are “able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us.”

May their love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that they may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

May they be filled with the knowledge of your will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,  to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to you. May they bear fruit in every good work and increase in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to your glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy.

May you give them the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of God, having the eyes of their hearts enlightened, that they may know what is the hope to which you have called them, what are the riches of your glorious inheritance in the saints,  and 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.

May my children be fully satisfied every morning with your steadfast love so they can rejoice and be glad all the days of their lives.

I pray these things for my children’s good and God’s glory in Jesus name, Amen.

Read this prayer over, and you will see that it applies equally to bringing up young children as well as older prodigal children. Remember, “For the promise is for you and for your children…” (Acts 2:39)

PERSEVERANCE IN PRAYER

Parents, join me as we take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,  praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for your children. (Ephesians 6:17-18) I know you will find faith growing in your heart as you pray God’s word over the lives of your children even if the circumstances appear hopeless. Nothing is hopeless with the sovereign God who turns the hearts of kings. He can turn our children’s hearts just as easily.

Parents, I pray that you will be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy as you stand steadfast for your children.

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