The Holy Spirit has been working on me to understand on a “heart level” what the Lord wants me to know so that I’ll understand how He wants me to apply His Word to my life. Yesterday I was drawn to Paul’s prayer, “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, the riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people, and His incomparably great power for us who believe.” (Eph 1:18-19)
Beside the careful instruction of the mind there must be the prayerful enlightenment of the heart. So Paul is not content to leave these people merely taught; he also prays that the eyes of their hearts be enlightened, that the truth which they have heard and understood with their minds will come alive and capture their hearts, that they will experience a kind of “divine heartburn” — like that of those two disciples whom Jesus met on the road to Emmaus and who said, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?” (Luke 24:32 RSV).
I wonder if much of our teaching isn’t lost because we are not faithful in praying for each other that our minds be instructed and our hearts enlightened. It is so necessary that this truth not be held with the intellect only, but that it be gripping, vital, and compelling, and that we will see its full impact. This is the way God has designed us to operate: The teaching is to instruct the mind, the prayer is to awaken and enlighten the heart, and, the will is enabled to act. And if people can’t act as Christians it is very likely that one of these elements is missing.
Paul had been a Christian for many years by the time he wrote this letter and he had undoubtedly gone through all the varying experiences that a Christian can be subjected to. He knew the lukewarmness which can set in, the lethargic, apathetic attitudes which can sometimes arise after a warm and hopeful beginning. And, here, he saw these Christians as dispirited, listless, turned off, and he understood their need.
Perhaps many of you are struggling with this very problem. No Christian escapes this entirely in his lifetime. There are times when we simply get cold and our spirits grow apathetic. The apostle understood that. He knew that these people had lost sight of certain truth. They still held it with their minds, but they had lost sight of it in their hearts. It was no longer living, flaming, warm, compelling, motivating. So the apostle turns to prayer, and his prayer reflects his understanding of their needs. He specifies three things: He is praying that the eyes of their hearts will be enlightened, “…that you may know what is the hope to which He has called you, what are the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power in us who believe,” (Ephesians 1:18b-19a RSV)
Paul knows that they have lost their vision; they have sunk into an attitude of indifferent routine. They know it as a doctrine, but they have lost the experience of it. So Paul prays that God will enlighten their hearts so that they may know the hope of God’s calling, the hope to which He has called them.
You and I know the need for hope, and hope always concerns the future. These people obviously had lost their sense that anything happening now affected the future. And this happens to many of us. The hope of a believer needs to be awakened within our hearts: “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18 RSV)
That is the hope — a glory which is coming, a glory toward which we are moving day by day. That glory is waiting for us, Paul says. It is an absolutely guaranteed certainty, toward which we are now moving, that we will one day live in a whole new creation and will be men and women endowed with a spirit which can mount up with wings as the eagle, a soul that can run and not be weary, a body which can walk and not faint, equal to the demands of the spirit. We’re looking forward to that day.
Day by day goes by, and life may not be very exciting. How does that distant hope help me now?” The answer is that the Scriptures do not teach that all of this hope is going to be attained in one blinding flash at the end. I think that many Christians today misunderstand it in this way.
Perhaps these Ephesians did too, and this was their difficulty. It is true that the body is ultimately redeemed at that future time, but the new creation is taking place right now. Read the way Paul describes it in these most helpful words in Second Corinthians 4: “So we do not lose heart[we don’t get discouraged]. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed every day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us[right now!] an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison…” (2 Corinthians 4:16-17 RSV) He says that this is working for us, it is preparing us. It is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.
That is what Paul is praying that these Christians will capture — the sense that God is at work in our daily circumstance, and that this is happening now, that, in the midst of the old creation, the new one is gradually taking shape. It is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. That is the hope of our calling. When we begin to see that, then every moment, every event, is tinged with the flame of glory, with the touch of heaven upon it. Learn to look at life that way! “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, the riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people, and His incomparably great power for us who believe.“
Source: Hope, Riches and Power