by J. D. Greear
Do you often feel dry spiritually? Or just cold? Like something is missing?
Many people have been Christians since they were little. They are well versed in the facts and stories of the Bible, but they are no longer captivated by them.
Others are just bored with Jesus. There’s no passion in their lives. They go through the motions, but they don’t want to read the Bible and pray on their own. They don’t really feel anything when they worship.
Why have we gotten bored with Jesus? Why do we feel cold toward the gospel? And how do we fix it?
Almost all of our spiritual problems come from a lack of sight, because what we know with our minds has never been felt with our hearts.
We don’t need new facts about Jesus to make him interesting. We simply need to have the eyes of our hearts enlightened to the truth we already know.
When God grants us spiritual sight, he takes the doctrines of the gospel we understand with our minds and makes them burst alive with sweetness in our hearts. We come to know them as real, personal and felt. And the only thing that can yield that in our lives is prayer.
Last year I memorized Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 1:15-23, and it’s what I most often pray for myself, my family and our church. In this model prayer, Paul lays out four things he prays that we will see with spiritual eyes so that we can feel them in our hearts and let them change our lives.
1. Paul prays we will see the certainty of our hope.
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you.”
Ephesians 1:18a NIV
The English word “hope” is often used synonymously with wishful thinking. I hope the Tar Heels will defend their national title next year, but I really have no idea. The biblical, Greek word for “hope,” however, does not refer to something you are unsure about; in fact, it is something you are very sure about that just hasn’t happened yet. It’s something that you look forward to with great anticipation.
Our hope as Christians is that God is going to finish what he started in us. We’re going to be holy and blameless before him, reconciled to him, filled with him and with him eternally. Because he is above all things, we know that no ruler, authority or power can thwart his purposes.
The certainty of that hope enables us to overcome temptation. It shows us what God wants us to do with our blessings. It even changes how we look at our pain. It reshapes how we see everything in life.
2. Paul prays we will see our worth to God.
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know…the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.”
This is a thought almost too glorious to comprehend: The God who literally had everything, set his love on us and was willing to submit to the pain and humiliation of the cross just so that we could be with him eternally.
And, Hebrews 12:2 tells us he did it with joy: “For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame.”
In his hour of greatest trial, we were the Son of God’s living hope—and we get to share in that hope, enjoying the intensity of that love forever.
3. Paul prays we will see God’s power at work in us.
“[I pray that you may know] his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms.”
Never did God look more out of control, more at the mercy of the forces of evil, than when his own Son hung dying on the cross. But on this side of the resurrection, we now see that there was never a time when evil was less in charge and God was more in control. He turned what the devil intended for evil—Jesus’ death—into his purposes and our salvation.
That shows us what God is doing in our pain and our suffering now. He hasn’t abandoned us. He’s simply revealing a different power in our lives—resurrection power.
Most of us don’t need to plead with God for help in our present struggle. We need a new lens to see the power and promise he’s already made available to us in the midst of that struggle. That lens is found in the resurrection of Jesus.
Through it we see that in all things—even the bad things—he has a plan he is working for our good.
4. Paul prays we will see the finality of Jesus’ rule.
“And God placed all things under [Jesus’] feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.”
The church is the focal point of everything God is doing in the world. For Paul, the church was not just an event you attended on the weekend; it was a family you belonged to, a place where you had your deepest relationships, and the body to which you were the most committed.
If Jesus invested his blood in the church, we should invest the best of our time, energy and resources.
God is ready to move heaven and earth—literally—to complete the mission of the church. And yet there are 6,400 unreached people groups in the world who have little or no access to the gospel. It’s not that there is a shortage of God’s love or power to save them; God is simply waiting on people who will believe what God says he wants to do and then ask him to do it.
When we pray for God to help us see his power at work in us and his church, it won’t just give us new understanding. It will also move us to help others understand how they, too, can share in the hope of glory.
SOURCE: Church Leaders
J.D. Greear, Ph.D., pastors the Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, NC. Tagged by Outreach magazine as one of the fastest growing churches in America, the Summit has grown in the past 8 years from 400 to over 5,000 each weekend. The Summit Church is deeply involved in global church planting, having undertaken the mission to plant 1000 churches in the next 40 years. J.D. has authored Breaking the Islam Code and the upcoming Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary.