If prayer really accomplishes something — and we believe it does — why don’t we pray more for others around us? Could it be that part of their spiritual development is directly tied to our prayer lives? Is it possible that that person doesn’t grow because I don’t pray for them to grow?
We have seen that Paul refers to each member of the Trinity as he prays for these believers. I have often thought that we are too general as we pray to “God” or “Our Heavenly Father.” The Father does certain things; the Spirit does certain things; and the Son does certain things. Why not craft our prayers in terms of their ministries?
Notice that the broad term “God” is used in verse 9 (“we continually ask God . . .”) and in verse 10 (“growing in the knowledge of God”). The term “Lord” is used in verse 10 (“so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord”). But the specific term “Father” is used in verse 12 (“giving joyful thanks to the Father”). The Father is also the referenced in verse 13, for He is the One who “has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves.” “The Spirit” is specifically referred to in verse 9 (“the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives”). “The Son” is referred to in verse 13 where we read that we have been “brought . . . into the kingdom of the Son he loves.” And the “in whom” refers back to the Son in verse 14: “in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
I have found it a helpful practice over the years to be more Person-specific in my prayers. The Father originated the plan of creation and salvation; the Son accomplishes redemption; the Spirit applies salvation to us. It is the Spirit who illumines our minds to understand the Scriptures. It is He, the Third Person of the Trinity, who brings conviction of sin to the unbeliever (as well as to the believer).
I’m sure you’ve heard someone publicly pray, “Heavenly Father, we thank You for dying on the cross for us . . .” It wasn’t the Father who died! It was the Son. I’m not suggesting that we should become hyper-critical about public prayers, holding up a sign that says “8.5” or some such nonsense. But we ought to become more aware of the differences between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And pray in accordance with those differences. (to be continued)