Prayer for a New Year: Open Our Eyes

by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson

Open eyeThere's a popular American idiom: "He doesn't get it!" It shows frustration at a person's inability to grasp an idea. Another is, "He doesn't have a clue!" The person is completely blind to the obvious.

Paul has a prayer for people like that. And as I study his prayer, I realize that he is praying for me. That I might grasp it. That I might have a clue to the immensity of God's presence, power, and provision. Take a few moments to study Paul's pray with me.

"I pray also 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 the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe...." (Ephesians 1:18-19)

The picture is of a heart with eyes. Closed eyes. The structure of the prayer is simple: that Paul's readers may...

  1. Know the hope.
  2. Know the inheritance.
  3. Know the power.

The answer to this prayer is God's antidote to what often hobbles us -- lack of purpose, a sense of poverty, a feeling of powerlessness. Let's examine this prayer.

1. Know the hope to which he has called you. Paul prays that we will begin to understand our destiny. Generally, we use the word "hope" in the sense of, "I hope so, but the chances aren't too good." However, the Bible uses the word "hope" in the sense of expectation of a sure thing. I expect this to come to pass. The hope we believers have is for God's kingdom and God's way to one day entirely overwhelm the present world order.

It may seem like we're swimming against a secular current that can be almost impossible to resist. But on the Day that Christ returns, the tables will be turned. Christ will reign. If we can see the Kingdom now -- truly expect it, rather than just hope a vain hope -- then we'll be able to live in a firm expectation of the true reality. It will change the way we live. What we think of ourselves. Our values. How we make decisions. We will be changed. Hope is a little thing, perhaps. But when hope becomes firm expectation, then it moves into the realm of faith and it changes our lives.[1] The first element of Paul's prayer for believers is that we might have a sure hope, and thus, a sense of purpose and destiny.

2. Know the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints. Inheritance has to do with what you'll receive when your parents or relatives die and pass on their wealth (if they have any) to you. Of course, God doesn't die. But at Christ's coming, we get what's coming to us -- in full. In fact, it's ours now, reserved in our name, to be received fully at a future date. You are heir to a fabulous fortune. You are an heir of God and co-heir with Christ.[2] Wow!

My brother, my sister, in Biblical figurative language, you and I ("the saints") are Christ's betrothed Bride, the wedding to take place at his coming (Revelation 19:7-9). To get a hint at the richness of our inheritance, take a look at John's description of the Holy City, which he refers to as the Bride.

"'Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.'  And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem.... It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal." (Revelation 21:9-11)

What follows is symbolic language describing the City, the Bride ("the saints") that expresses a degree of wealth that we can only imagine.

  • 12 gates and 12 foundations (verses 12-14).
  • Foursquare, shaped like a glorious, giant cube 1,400 miles long and wide and tall (verses 15-17).
  • "The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass" (verse 18). The streets were "pure gold, like transparent glass" (verse 21b).
  • The foundations were decorated with 12 kinds of precious stones (verses 19-20).
  • Each of 12 gates was made of a single giant pearl (the "pearly gates").
  • God and the Lamb are its temple (verse 22).
  • Light comes from the glory of God and of the Lamb (verse 23).
  • And it goes on....

John's words point to a reality so great and glorious that it can only be hinted at by grand figures and symbols. How rich is your inheritance in the saints? Beyond description! Are you poor? Your God is not, and you are his heir. Nothing is impossible to heirs of such a fabulous fortune.

"And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:19)

If we can grasp this, we've fulfilled the second part of Paul's prayer. Now the third.

3. Know his incomparably great power towards us who believe. Paul compares this power to the energy that it took to raise Christ from the dead. Think of the power we see in the pages of the Bible. Sick are healed. Troubled people are delivered from the demonic chains that have bound them. The Red Sea opens. The Jordan River stops. Walls fall down. Time is turns back. Violent storms become suddenly quiet. I love the line in Kristene DiMarco's song, "Wind and waves still know his name."[3] This is the "incomparably great power" that God extends towards you!

In Ephesians 1:19, the phrase "incomparably great power for us who believe" uses the Greek preposition eis, indicating motion into. The various translations all seek to express this idea -- "for us" (NIV, NRSV), "toward us" (ESV), "us-ward" (KJV), "in us" (RSV).

We often feel powerless, but we are not. God's "incomparably great power," his power beyond all comparison, is available to us to do God's will. Jesus once said,

"I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." (Matthew 17:20)

If we were honest, many of us would respond, "You don't really mean that." Or "That's not really true."

Which brings us back to where we started. We don't really "get" it. We don't really have a clue to the immensity and power and glory of this Kingdom of which we are a part. Later in Ephesians, Paul renews his prayer for the believers:

"I pray that you ... may have power ... to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge -- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." (Ephesians 3:17-19)

Because they couldn't grasp it, Paul prayed for the Ephesians. And I pray for you -- and I hope you'll pray for me:

Father, we admit that we don't really see all this. The eyes of our hearts are open just a tiny bit. Our faith is at low ebb. The examples we see around us in our churches fall way short of all this. Help us to see. In this New Year, open our spiritual eyes to grasp and see clearly things we haven't seen before, to grasp with a firm grip a new level of faith, to be filled to overflowing with your joy and your love and your presence. To know you as we never have before.

"Open the eyes of my heart, Lord,
Open the eyes of my heart.
I want to see You, I want to see You."[4]

In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.



[1] Hebrews 11:1.

[2] Romans 8:17.

[3] Kristene DiMarco, "It Is Well" 2013 Bethel Music Publishers, based on "It Is Well with My Soul," words: Horatio Gates Spafford (1873) and music: Philip Paul Bliss (1876).

[4] Paul Baloche, "Open the Eyes of My Heart," © 1997 Integrity's Hosanna! Music/ASCAP.

Copyright © 1985-2017, Ralph F. Wilson. <pastor@joyfulheart.com> All rights reserved. A single copy of this article is free. Do not put this on a website. See legal, copyright, and reprint information.

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