Means of Grace: Prayer
There are certain activities within the life of the church that God uses to bring blessing to us. These activities are called “means of grace.” Briefly defined, the means of grace are public and private activities (such as hearing the Word of God and praying) that are gifts or graces (and not law) from God. Before we consider the activities, let us consider the blessing. This blessing is an internal transformation; the means of grace make us more like Christ, that is, more godly. When performed in faith, the means of grace conform us more into the image of Christ. So what are the different activities God uses to achieve this end?
In a previous Pastoral Word, we looked at how we study the Word of God to know and pursue Christ; we use it to know Him and become more like Him. We must now turn to prayer. What is the goal of our prayers? Why should we pray? Prayer is an assumed religious activity that we perhaps don’t think about enough and certainly don’t practice enough. We pursue some of those same goals in prayer as we do when reading the Word of God: to be more godly, to sin less, to know God more, and to have communion with Him. Paul shows His passion and models biblical prayer for us in Ephesians 3:14-19. After considering Gospel realities in verses 1-12, he explicitly states that he has a reason to pray in verse 14: “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father.” Then he exposes his heart and hope; verses 16-17 describe the means and verses 18-19 describe the goal:
“that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph 3:16-19).
What is Paul’s hope and prayer? That through the Gospel and through God’s transforming power, we might know the love of Christ so that we may be filled with all the fullness of God!
Consider the goal of your prayers. Are you motivated to pray so that you may know Christ more and that you may be more godly? Is this the aim as you pray for others?