Fence Post of Faith- September 2016
   
 Praying thru Ephesians 3:14-21

I used to say grace before every meal. I stopped, though, when I realized it was more a habit response than a heart response: I figured I needed to recapture the sense of grace in my grace.

I used to pray with my children every single night. But I stopped when they began to resent the intrusion into the private empire that was their bedroom: I figured they were old enough to pray for themselves now.

I used to pray a blessing before we took off for every rodeo or barrel race. It fizzled out when the Friday night arrived and it took my allotted prayer minutes to find the zip code on my GPS. I figured God knew I wanted to get from A to B safely anyway.

And so it was in those early years my children hardly see me pray. But Having been inspired by Paul in his letter to the Ephesians to find ways and times to bring prayer back into my family life, what is it that I should be praying for?

God is not our servant and prayer is not our Amazon wish list. When we pray, we are not commanding God. We should pray to our Heavenly Father, beginning our prayer by asking for the humility to pray with God's purposes and desires as our first priority. Prays that this strengthening of the Spirit would give them inner transformation – a changed character, a new resilience, and a fresh dose of conviction regarding all things that in our lives. Perhaps our prayers for friends and family too often focus on healed bodies and changed circumstances. Paul teaches us to pray for the Spirit's power to be unleashed in the conversion of character and courage of conviction.

It might seem odd to pray for Christians that "Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith", but I can think of two good reasons why we should. Firstly, I can see no harm in praying for someone to know Christ as the resident ruler in their life, whether or not they're already a Christian. Secondly, Christ's residency can take place in phases. Yes we can be converted in an instant, but the implications of our conversion is an ongoing process – we grow in depth and maturity in our Christian faith throughout our lives. Jesus' residency in our lives works at a pace that is not domineering or dominating, allowing us to grow continually more connected to him. Let us pray for our friends and family that Christ would live in their hearts, like air lives in their lungs. Let's pray that they would know in increasing measure the privilege of Jesus' presence.

  As we pray for our friends and families, let's pray that their minds never grow tired of grappling with the riches of God's inexhaustible love and that their hearts never grow weary of knowing this love that surpasses all knowledge.

  I sometimes get frustrated that my teenagers would rather spend time sleeping in late than exploring the world, or that they choose to be on social media rather than out with their mates on adventures. I want to open their eyes so they realize there is so much in our world to discover and experience.  

My daughters use to thinks I was over barring at times, I would ask if and how long they had rode. I was not trying to live out my own dreams through my daughters, or overload them with unrealistic expectations of winning.  I want them to know that even the sky is not the limit when it comes to their dreams and aspirations. I also want them to do what God has called them to do. We can pray for our friends and family that in their choices, their family planning, their life strategies and their future goals, God's enduring kingdom will be central in their decision making.

Praying all these things for my friends and family makes me realize something else. I need these things in my life, too: humble submission to God the Father, empowerment within by the Holy Spirit, and the residency of Jesus in my heart, and a bigger, truer and bolder vision of how to love and serve God with my mind, dreams and life. Why not take some time now to pray through Ephesians 3:14-21 for your friends and family and for yourself?

Jeff Metcalf