We have often heard, “If God is sovereign why pray?” and “Prayer changes things.” Comments such as these demonstrate deficient ideas about prayer. Many people equate prayer with supplication or petition. While this is one aspect of prayer, it is one of many. Ephesians chapter 1 is a prayer in its entirety. In it Paul addresses God while thinking about the church. He first exults in a glorious doxology rooted in a deep theological understanding of the sovereignty of God. Paul prays because he knows God is sovereign. But then Paul intercedes; he is not afraid to make petitions in prayer. Petitionary prayers honor God because He is a prayer-hearing and prayer-answering God. To fail to intercede in prayer is to flee from your responsibility as a Christian.
In a day where we find a conflict for every moment of our attention, perhaps the most urgent need of the church is Holy Spirit-empowered intercessory prayer. When it comes to knowing God and knowing how to pray, our church culture is spiritually stunted. What can be done about this?
To begin with, we must realize how it is that many have come to this feeble condition. There is very little discipleship in how to pray in the modern church. In reality, prayer is often ineffective and meager because we do not know how to pray. One effective way to pray is to tie your prayers to your Bible reading. As it has been said, “pray with your eyes open” – and not merely open, but upon the Scripture. As you think through what is written in the Word, it will help you to organize analogous prayers. In Ephesians 1 we find a model prayer of the apostle Paul from which we can draw upon to apply to our own prayers.