Because of this, and because I heard about your faith in Lord Jesus and about your love toward all the saints, I’ve not stopped praying for you, recalling you to mind in my prayers.
The thrust of this passage is about prayer. At first it hits us as a bit of a surprise. This first section in Ephesians is so full of high theology that one hardly expects the sudden intrusion of something practical. But I think this points out an important feature of Christianity.
Many times Christianity is described as a reflective faith. We have a deep history of serious theological and philosophical reflection. However, as much of American evangelicalism has aptly demonstrated, it can also be a very practical faith, and can exist and act separately from high level theology.
The truth of the matter is that Christianity in its purest form takes abstract theological concepts and makes them practical. Christianity is more than something to make us feel better, or something to motivate us, or a hobby to muse over when there’s nothing on TV. Instead Christianity is a robust and provocative way of viewing the world which is grounded in the reality of life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and as such every theological thought reaches in and affects the way in which we interact with the world.
For instance, in prayer Paul cites two impetuses for his prayer for the Ephesians. One is the witness of their love and faithfulness to Christ and His church. This as an impetus for prayer is relevant because it sets as an example the level of commitment we are supposed to have for our fellow Christians. Often we forget this.
The other impetus is all the theological stuff Paul has been saying so far, especially what he just said in verses 13-14. Because the Gentiles are now included within the inheritance that was the Jews, they are now brothers and as such Paul loves them as his own people. The prayer that Nehemiah prayed about the ruin of Jerusalem and the corporate love of his people has, for Paul, now extended to the Gentiles.
Therefore we see that the theological idea of the Gentiles’ inclusion into the promises of God had direct influence on Paul’s prayer. Now I wonder how much it has on ours. Do we pray for the saints as brothers? Do we reach out to those loyal in Christ in our prayers? Do we hold them up? I think we should.