[Oct 19]—Prayer for Enlightenment

            For the longest time, I’ve wanted to reclaim the word “meditation” from Eastern religions like Buddhism. The Bible, particularly the Psalms, has a lot of references to meditation, although the meaning is very different from what people like Buddhists are talking about. They’re referring to emptying your mind as the main goal; the Bible wants us to empty our mind of the daily concerns and worries, not for its own sake, but so that we can fill it with something else. Take a few moments and contemplate--without any interruption—some glorious Biblical truth, such as God’s sovereignty over everything, or what Jesus went through for me, or his multiple mercies he shows me every day. The problem is that we’ve let others take over a thoroughly biblical word, and it’s a lost art among modern Christians, at least American ones.
            It’s the same principle with the word “enlightenment.” Adherents of eastern religions use this term to represent attaining some higher plain of existence and understanding. Again, this is seen as an end in itself. As we’ll see, the Bible passage today has something to say about this.
            Today’s passage is a prayer that Paul made regularly for the Ephesians. He thanked the Father for the progress they’d made in faith and love. You might notice that the book of Ephesians is much more positive than others he wrote (particularly 1 Corinthians), and one of the reasons is that apparently the church in Ephesus was doing—on the whole—pretty well, at least at this point in time (the Lord Jesus had a more mixed view of them a few years later). But even if they were the best church in the world, they weren’t perfect, since there's no perfection this side of Glory. And that means there’s always room for improvement.
            Then he moves to the heart of his prayer.  This is an open “secret” to the Christian life, one which the Bible brings up repeatedly but a lot of believers miss: The battle to become more like Christ begins and ends in your thought life, particularly how you perceive things. Everything springs from that. If you perceive and think about things correctly, that will (eventually) overflow into your words and actions. That’s why Paul, in the very beginning of his “practical” section of Romans (chapters 12-16) starts with the command to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” This is the rock-bottom foundation of becoming like Christ: changing your thinking to match his, looking at things and people the way he sees them. Everything you do and say will flow out of that. 
            He starts by praying that the Father would give us more and more of the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, so that we would know Christ better (both head-knowledge and relationship-knowledge). All of us need this. No matter where we are in our walk with Christ, we can always love him and obey him and please him better.
            Then we come to the part I want to focus on. This is where our perceptions are so important. Paul prayed that the eyes of their hearts might be enlightened (there’s that word), so that they might know (better) 1) the hope that he’s called us to (the incredibly glorious inheritance we have in Christ) and 2) his “incomparably great power for us who believe.”
            The rest of the passage is describing this power that he references. This power
·         Is for every believer. Not that we control it for our own selfish purposes. But this power is that which protects us, provides for us, saves us, sets us apart, makes us holy, etc. If the Enemy wants to harm us, this power is something with which he must contend.
·         Is the same which he exerted when he raised Jesus from the dead. Meditate on that just for a moment. Think of the power that God Almighty exerted when he shattered the hold that Death had on our Savior. The earthquake on earth around the tomb was nothing compared to the quakes in Heaven and Hell. And this this is the same power that resides within you to overcome the Enemy and anything that life or death throws at you.
·         Is the same power and authority which he exerted when he seated Christ at his right hand. In vs. 22, Paul asserts that at the ascension the Father placed all things under the feet of his Son. Everything. Seen and unseen. All names and powers and authorities and dominions, from the tin pot dictator to the greatest spiritual forces in Heaven and Hell. They’re all under his feet.
·         Is for the church. Why did I make this a separate point from the 1st one? Because there’s a difference in saying that this power is for the benefit of each individual believer and saying that this power is for the benefit of the universal Church. Yes, he deals with us as individuals, but we are each a part of his Body. And this power--which he used when he was raised from the dead and which he now exerts at the right hand of the Father--is the power that he exerts on behalf of his Bride. And woe to him who even thinks about harming her. As God said of his people in days of old, he says of us now: “Whoever touches you touches the apple of my eye.”

            This is what Paul wants you to understand better. He wants you to be able to see—with the eyes of faith—both our inheritance and the One who’s fighting for us. When you gain this perspective, everything else will fall into place. And you can rejoice.

Lord Jesus, I’m repeating Paul’s prayer for myself. I ask for the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that I may know you better. I pray that the eyes of my heart may be enlightened, in order that I may know the hope to which you've called me, the riches of your glorious inheritance in your holy people, and your incomparably great power for me. By your grace, help me to tap into that unimaginable power, so that I can serve and obey you as you deserve. 

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