The things we have in common with other Christians is a great motivating factor for us to keep connected with them. Paul knew the believers in Ephesus because he had lived among them for some time, but at the time of his writing he was at a distance from them. His interest in them was on-going. He wanted to know how those he loved and had an interest in, were getting along. Paul had heard they were doing well in their Christian faith toward God and love toward each other. In this first prayer of intercession for them he gives God thanks for what He was doing in and through them at Ephesus. This is not necessarily a template for prayer, but thanksgiving is in fact, one of the essentials of prayer. “With prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.”
It is encouraging for our brothers and sisters in Christ when we mention areas of their lives in which God is using them in His work. The “faith in the Lord Jesus” was an assurance to Paul that the Christians there had their priorities right. God and His kingdom come first in the lives of those who follow Him. Love to the people of God is one of the proofs of salvation. “We know we have passed from death unto life because we love the brethren.” That is evidence of the grace of God being a reality in those who profess faith in Christ. Love for God and gratitude for what the Lord Jesus has done for us is a natural part of our salvation. “We love Him because He first loved us.” Love for the Lord’s people is a choice to be made on our part. This is not just emotional feelings but a desire for their well-being and practical acts on our part to strengthen and help them.
When we are interested enough in others to follow their lives in our prayers of thanksgiving, supplication and intercession, that is proof of our own appreciation of the Lord Jesus Christ. I will get to know the Lord and His people by spending the time necessary to share our lives together. I can know about people by reading about them or hearing others talk about them and tell of their strong points, needs and interests. I only truly know people when I am in communication with them. The more I am with them the better I know them. We first came to know the Lord Jesus Christ and the only True God when we first trusted in Him and were given eternal life by Him. Now we share our lives with Him. The same practice is necessary when we come to know people. When we first meet them we know them as acquaintances. “Acquaint now thyself with Him and be at peace.” By spending time with them and keeping contact with them, we soon become a part of their lives and they become a part of ours.
Daily prayer and thanksgiving changes our lives with the Lord Jesus. Appreciation and fellowship grow when we are in contact with Him. The same principle holds true in our relationships with people. Those we love and care for have an important place in our daily lives as well as in our intercession. It is one thing to say in a general way, “I will pray for you” because of some issue and event going on in that person’s life. It is quite another matter when the ones we share life with are interceded for at the throne of grace.
To know the Lord Jesus better I need to read about Him in the Gospels to know and learn life skills that He lived by and practiced consistently. To know His heart and emotions, I read in the Psalms. Each part of the scriptures have a way of unfolding more of the Lord Jesus Christ to me that I may know Him better. The same practice holds true in my dealings with other people. I have to initiate ways of communication so that I can share the events of their lives and really know them. Then my prayers on their behalf will be intelligent and relevant toward their needs, because they are not only a casual acquaintance. Our lives will be intertwined and we will have an influence not only on them, but they on me.