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prayer

Diving Deeper into Prayer

Have you ever longed to pray more effectively and deeply for your friends and family? I pray regularly for my loved ones. I’ve noticed my prayers for them are often centered more around physical, earthly concerns than spiritual, heavenly issues. I long to pray deeper prayers for those I love, but I could sure use some help figuring out how to do it.

Not surprisingly, the Bible offers inspiring examples of prayer. One of them is Paul’s prayer for his friends at the church in Ephesus.

Paul prayed often for the Christians at Ephesus. He prayed earnestly for them, diving deeply into prayer by asking God to give his friends wisdom, revelation, knowledge, and vision. His prayer explodes with power, like fireworks in a summer sky, providing us with a roadmap to pray more effectively for ourselves and those we love.

Paul didn’t pray the Ephesians would receive physical health or a promotion at work. He didn’t pray for their marriages or parenting. Those things are important and it’s certainly appropriate to pray about them, but Paul is most concerned that the Ephesians know God. He prays God will give them, “…the riches of the Spirit of wisdom and the Spirit of revelation to know him through your deepening intimacy with him” (Ephesians 1:17).

Paul prays his friends will not only know about God but will personally know Him through their own experiences.

Paul also prayed that the churches in Phillipi, Colossae, and Philemon’s home would know God better. Jesus prayed for His followers to know God: “…that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3).

With so many Biblical prayers imploring God to enable his people to know Him better, shouldn’t we consider adding this request to prayers for our loved ones and our friends? Shouldn’t we pray this for ourselves?

When we pray to know God better, we are seeking Him first—before our health, jobs, or other earthly concerns. The Bible promises that if we seek God first, all other aspects of our lives fall into place.

Praying for a deeper knowledge of God invites His blessing not only our spiritual life, but our day-to-day life as well.

Will I continue to pray for the health, safety, and prosperity of my friends and family? Of course. God cares about every aspect of our lives. He is attentive to every prayer. But I will also dive deeper in prayer by asking God for a more important blessing—the blessing of knowing Him more each day.

Heavenly Father, it’s so easy for me to fall into a routine prayer for finances, health, or safety rather than praying for deeper spiritual needs. While I may not have prayed about it in the past, I truly want to know You better each day. Give me a deeper knowledge of You. Give my friends and family wisdom and revelation so their knowledge of You increases each day. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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A New Identity

 “Jesus replied, ‘You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.’” (Matthew 16:17-18)

Reginald Kenneth Dwight changed his name to Elton John. Peter Gene Hernandez changed his name to Bruno Mars. Eric Marlon Bishop changed his name to Jamie Foxx. And Mark Sinclair Vincent became Vin Diesel.

It’s common for celebrities to change their name to further their career—no big deal. But in Matthew 16, Jesus himself changed Simon’s name, and when Jesus changes your name, it’s a very big deal. It isn’t just a change of name, it’s a change of identity.

Here’s the story. Jesus and the disciples were walking along one day, and Jesus asked them who people said he was. They said people thought Jesus was John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah, or some other prophet. Then Jesus got to the heart of the question—who did the disciples think he was?

Simon quickly answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus told Simon that his answer came through a revelation from God. Simon didn’t figure it out for himself. He didn’t learn it from a friend or a rabbi. No, God himself revealed Jesus’s identity to Simon.

When we have a revelation of Jesus’s identity, it changes our identity. Revelation gives us mission, purpose, and confidence about who we are in Christ. Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter. Simon was a fisherman, but Peter was a fisher of men. Simon lived a quiet life on the Sea of Galilee, but Peter possessed the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Simon was often unstable, but Peter was solid as a rock.

Peter’s identity, purpose, and mission was tied to his revelation of Jesus’s identity. In Ephesians 1:17, Paul prays for God to give all Christians everywhere a personal revelation of Christ so each of us can comprehend who Jesus is—savior, redeemer, healer, protector, provider. He is Emmanuel, God with us. He is the beginning and the end. Jesus is the lion of Judah and the light of the world. Everything we could ever need is embodied in Jesus Christ.

We all need a personal revelation of the majesty and glory of Jesus. We need this revelation from God—not from our pastor or our parents, but straight from God. We need a revelation of Jesus’s virgin birth, his perfect life, the miracles he performed, and the passion of the cross. We need a revelation of the power that raised Jesus from the dead, the same supernatural power that  inhabits his followers.

When we really grasp the identity of Jesus, our identity changes. A revelation of Jesus shows us our purpose and our mission. If your revelation of Jesus has grown dim, pray for fresh anointing. Revelation is offered freely to everyone who seeks it.

Dear God, I ask you today to refresh my revelation of who Jesus really is. I know he is the son of the living God. I know Jesus paid the price for my forgiveness and my freedom. Immerse my identity, purpose, and mission in the identity of Christ. In the name of Jesus, amen.