Scripture: Ephesians 1:15-23
Observation: Paul prays for the Ephesians, thanking God for them and asking God to help them grow spiritually and understand the blessings they have as followers of Jesus. He asks God to fill their hearts with light so they can understand the “confident hope” given to those who are called. He ends by praying that they’ll understand the true power inside of them that comes from a relationship with Jesus.
Application: If we took Paul’s entire prayer in these verses and summed it up into a single sentence, it would be this: “God, let the people know you and the blessings that come from you.”
We all know about God on some level. We all have some intellectual knowledge of who God is – some of that knowledge is developed from what we read about in Scripture, some from listening to messages at our church, some from conversations with a trusted friend. (Even most atheists know about God; they simply don’t believe in him.)
Knowledge is power. But pay close attention to Paul’s words -- Paul isn’t praying that the people would know about God; he’s praying that they would know God – personally, deeply, intimately.
I recently had a young leader ask me how you develop confidence. And while there are lots of practical ways to develop confidence, I’ve discovered that the most effective way to develop confidence is to submit yourself more fully to God. We become more confident when we become more submitted to the One we are confident in.
We develop confidence by developing our relationship with God. When we learn more about who he is, we begin to see just how great the gap is between our sinful, selfless beings and God’s perfect and blameless nature, leading us to lay more and more of ourselves down. We begin to learn about the power of his promises and place our trust in his promises rather than our circumstances. We begin to realize we walk under his authority, that there’s nothing we can’t do when his spirit fills us. We’re not confident because of who we are but because of who he is.
Dig deep today.
Is your relationship with God something you do or something you experience? Is it deeply personal? Is it constantly evolving, pushing to new depths? Are you continually learning about God’s power and blessings in new ways? Are you growing in your knowledge of God?
I hope so. Here are some practical ways I’ve started to dig deeper in my relationship with God:
- Develop a time and a place: At The Journey, we call this a “slot and spot” – a time and a place with God. Mine is every morning in my office around 7 a.m. Commit yourself to spending a specific time with God. When you hope it’ll “just happen,” it never does.
- Praying before you read Scripture: This is short but powerful. Before you begin reading the Bible, ask God to give you unique insights. Open up your mind and your heart to what he’s written.
- SOAP’ing through Scripture: That’s exactly what we’re doing here – focusing on a scripture, observing what’s happening, figuring out how it applies to our lives, and then praying. I read the Bible for years, but through the practice of SOAP’ing, I really forced myself to pay attention to what was happening and how it applied to my life.
- Ask yourself one question: As part of my weekly personal reflection, I ask myself, “What did I learn about God this week?” Reminding yourself who God is and what you’re learning about him is a powerful way to develop confidence.
Prayer: God, I pray I would know you in new ways. I pray I wouldn’t simply know about you but truly experience a relationship with you. I pray for a deeper trust and a stronger faith. Amen.