Monday Devotional: November 20, 2023



Bible Reading: Ephesians 1:15-23 (NRSVUE)

15 I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, 18 so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may perceive what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. 20 God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. 22 And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Most of the time, I pray for those whom I know from personal experience. I keep a list of those persons in my journal and on a slip of paper I attach to my pocket calendar. The listing contains the names of relatives, friends, and members of my congregation.

In Paul’s prayer, as recorded in Ephesians, he is praying for believers whom he does not know and whom he never met. He has “heard” about their faith and love, which causes him to give thanks for their witness. Paul reminds me to expand my prayer list to include persons in the church universal.

Although I do not have a personal relationship with people in other congregations, I am called to pray for them. This scripture lesson has quickened my heart to pray for those whom I have “heard of” because all of us belong to the church, which is “his body.”

We can easily think of the church as just another institution with its many extensions and expressions. The local congregation is not a franchise of the denomination. Paul wants us to understand the importance of praying for the body of Christ both its local and global expression.

Several years ago, I preached in a congregation in Angola located in an area of grinding poverty. The pastor prayed for his congregation and he also prayed for the church in America. I have listened to hundreds of pastoral prayers, but I cannot recall a time when an American pastor prayed for a church in another country.

God gives us a “spirit of wisdom and revelation.” We pray expressing confidence in God’s “immeasurable greatness,” acknowledging God’s great power as the source of all we do.


Loving and listening God, I praise your immeasurable greatness. May your power help me widen my circle of prayer to include those whom I do not know. Amen

By Joe E Pennel, Jr, The Upper Room Disciplines 2017, page 388.