pathways of prayer
Week 3 - The devotional path
Most gracious God,
in whom alone dwells all fullness of light and wisdom:
By your Holy Spirit, illuminate our minds,
in true understanding of your Word.
Give us grace that we may receive it
with reverence and humility.
May it lead us to put our trust in you alone;
and so to serve and honour you,
that we may glorify your holy name,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
John Calvin (1509-1564)
Christians believe that God has revealed himself to us through his Word. Evangelical spirituality places special emphasis on the way God speaks to us through the Bible. So 'devotional' time spent in prayer and Bible study are centrally important. But studying for its own sake is not enough. The word of God has to shape and change our lives; it has to call us together into God-centred life in the church; and then it has to be shared with the world through preaching and evangelism.
- Christians sometimes speak about 'knowing God'. What do you think they mean?
- Look back to the very beginning of your Christian experience. When did you first become aware of Christ's presence in your life? Has that awareness changed or grown since then?
Saint Paul had visited the church at Ephesus at least twice before, once for about three months (Acts 18:19-21) and once for three years. So he knew and loved the Christians there. Tradition says that the letter to the Ephesians was written from Paul's prison cell in Rome around 62AD. In many ways it is a love letter to the church. Paul has two great longings for them: that they should know God better and experience unity in their life together. Chapter 3 verses 14-19 form a single sentence in the original Greek - probably one of the longest sentences in the whole Bible. They represent an out-pouring of passionate prayer from Paul.
Read Ephesians 3:14-21
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
- How do you picture Paul as he prays this prayer?
- Who does Paul direct his prayer to?
- What do you think Paul means when he says that God's "whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name" from the Father (v14)?
- What does Paul want most for the people he is writing to?
- Paul mentions power three times. What power does he want his readers to experience, and why does he want it for them?
- What are your chief goals in life? Where does the goal of knowing God fit into your other plans and ambitions?
- What steps are you taking (or could you take) to know more of God's love in your life?
Contact: BBC Radio 4 Sunday Worship
This material has been provided by BBC Radio 4 in collaboration with Churches Together in Britain and Ireland.
Text © BBC 2007. Web site © CTBI 2007.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
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