Ephesians 1:15-16, “For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.”

What does it mean to you when a fellow brother or sister in Christ tells you he or she has prayed for you? I don’t know about you, but such news gives me great joy. When someone else prays for me, it means they have gone before the throne of grace, before the King of Kings, and laid requests on my behalf at the feet of our great God. This is not an insignificant thing. It’s huge. It’s marvelous. And it’s powerful.

United in Christ

In the beginning of Ephesians 1, Paul references the believer’s union with Christ (1:3-14). He mentions all the spiritual blessings the Ephesians have because they are united to their Savior. This union is a foundational doctrine for believers. All the benefits of our salvation come through our union with him. Paul used the phrase “in Christ” to describe this union. Our justification is “in Christ.” Our sanctification is “in Christ.” Our future glorification is “in Christ.”

It is also through our union with Christ that we are united to other believers. Upon salvation, we immediately become part of the family of God. Other believers become our brothers and sisters “in Christ.” We are united to other believers through the blood of Christ. This union goes deeper than sharing a similar DNA as we do with our biological siblings. Our union with our brothers and sisters in Christ is eternal. We will live forever together, worshipping our Savior for all eternity.

While this unity is a fact and secured by Christ’s blood shed for us, it is also something we have to live out. We have to abide in Christ to receive the blessings of our union with him. We have drawn from his well of grace. We have to seek him first. We have to yield to his Spirit’s work in us. Likewise, we have to live out our union with one another. We have to love and serve one another. We have to maintain and keep our unity with each other, being patient and forgiving one another as Christ has forgiven us.

Paul planted the church at Ephesus, and while he had not visited them for quite some time, he heard about their “faith in the Lord Jesus” and their “love toward all the saints” (Ephesians 1:15). The Ephesians were living out their union with Christ and with each other. They were doing what Jesus prayed for in John 17:20-21: “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” Their faith in Christ and love for one another made Paul rejoice. He responded by giving thanks for them in prayer (Ephesians 1:16).

United in Prayer

When we pray for one another, as Paul did for the Ephesian church, we live out our union with one another in Christ. We pray to the same Father on behalf of our siblings in Christ. Have you ever considered what this means? It’s not like asking a friend of a friend of a friend to get us an introduction to someone we’ve always wanted to meet. When fellow believers pray for us, they are going directly to the source of grace. They are going to our Father in Heaven and asking him to meet our needs, whatever they may be.

The  Reformer, Martin Luther, often suffered from depression and painful physical ailments. He relied on the unity of his fellow believers and asked them to pray for him. Sometimes he was in such pain, he thought he was dying. After one such time, he wrote: “I almost lost Christ in the waves and blasts of despair and blasphemy against God, but God was moved by the prayers of the saints and began to take pity on me and rescued my soul from the lowest hell.”[1] We need one another’s prayers. God uses our prayers to move and act in the lives of our siblings in Christ.

Paul doesn’t say in this passage that he prayed for them once. He said, “I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers” (Ephesians 1:16). He prays for them unceasingly. He always prays for them. Later in the letter to the Ephesians, after describing the armor of God, Paul urged them to pray for one another: “Pray in the Spirit at all times, with every kind of prayer and petition. To this end, stay alert with all perseverance in your prayers for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18). Consider all the times we tell a fellow church member that we will pray for them. How often do we actually do it? If we do remember, we’re likely to pray once. Imagine what it would look like if we prayed unceasingly for our siblings in Christ!

Through the gift of faith in our Savior, we are united to him and to one another. Let us live out this union in prayer, going before the throne of grace on behalf of our siblings in the faith. And may we not pray for them once, but pray for them unceasingly.

[1] Luther, Martin. Luther’s Correspondence and Other Contemporary Letters https://archive.org/details/lutherscorrespo02luthgoog (Letter 768, p. 409).