By Semi-retired Pastor, Jeremy Stopford

We once had a cat named “Zulu”, a wonderful, loving feline who lived to be 16 years old.   When we called her for a meal, the whole house would echo:  “Zulu LULULULULULU!”.  Back in the 1980’s when we got her from the local SPCA, she was declawed (a practice now outlawed in our state).  Because of that, we were very aggressive to keep her in the house where she would have protection against all the outdoor enemies against which she would have been defenseless.  
     Well, one evening she got out.  I don’t remember  HOW she got out.  But I do remember WHAT we did next!  We called for her all evening long before we reluctantly went to bed.  When I got up early the next morning, I started calling for her:  “Zulu LULULULULULU!”.   The whole neighborhood echoed.  Soon, Zulu appeared…and would NOT come in!  I told her that her dog friends were inside!  I told her that Tonya our daughter who loved Zulu was inside waiting for her.  But you know what convinced this stubborn cat to come in?  “How about some chow?”.  In she came!  She was hungry for the good stuff!  (Well, good for HER!  I don’t think I would like her food!).
   Wasn’t that a nice story?  And so is this section of Ephesians, which reminds us that the Father is lovingly calling us every morning to come have “chow” with Him!  HE hungers for our fellowship!  HE hungers for those quiet moments with Him when He can instruct us in His Word.  And HE hungers for those times when we can share with Him our heart’s burdens in prayer.  THAT’S what this section of Ephesians is all about!
Perhaps there are some questions each of us can ask ourselves to evaluate our personal progress as a child of God.  Let’s use our text as a guide!
    First, we should ask, “HOW IS MY PRAYER LIFE?”  (See verses 15-16)
     The Pastor was walking downtown when up ahead he saw Bob coming toward him.  “Oh no!”, he thought.  “I promised Bob I would be praying for him, and I haven’t been.  Oh no!  What am I going to do?”  “Oh Lord, bless Bob.  I pray for him!”.
     “Hey Bob!  Good to see you!  I’ve been praying for you!”
     That’s NOT what verse 16 is all about!  Here Paul says of the Ephesian fellowship, “[I] do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers…”. How important is prayer in the Bible?  There are 348 Old Testament verses and 165 New Testament verses that specifically deal with prayer.  How important was prayer to the Apostle Paul?  Here’s just a sampling:
He begins his letter to the Romans, “that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers…” (Rom. 1:9)
And to the Philippians:  “always in every prayer of mine making request for you  all with joy…” (Phil. 1:4)
And to the Colossians:  “We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord  Jesus Christ, praying always for you…”. (Colossians 1:3)
     How about the Lord?  How important is prayer to HIM?  We’re familiar with the Lord’s prayer.  Let’s add to that 1 Peter 3:12a: “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their  prayers…”
      It is God’s people who rock the world by prayer!  So how is YOUR prayer life?  What priority of your time, your day, is devoted to prayer?  AND are you praying in general terms (“Lord bless Charlie”) or in specific terms?  AND do you pray anytime when the Spirit moves?
     The Sunday school teacher asked, “What is prayer?”.  The second grader wisely answered, “It is a message sent to God at night and on Sundays when the rates are cheaper.”
So how is YOUR prayer life?
Second, we should ask, HOW WELL DO I KNOW GOD?  (See verse 17)
     Paul prayed for the Ephesian BELIEVERS that they might KNOW God.  But didn’t they already know God?  Weren’t they already believers?
   Let me illustrate.  A young man FALLS IN LOVE with what would be his very first girlfriend.  He tells his parents, “I’m in love!  We’re going to get married!”.  The wise parents said, “That’s pretty sudden!  Don’t you think you should get to know her better?”  Their son protested, “I DO know her!  And I LOVE her.  We’re going to get MARRIED!”  
     Well, I DO know 2 couples for whom that worked!  My wife’s parents were married over 67 years when her mother went Home to be with Jesus.  Their courtship lasted from October-January before they were married on January 29 (back in 1949!).  And my wife and I courted from October-July before marrying just after the 4th of July – and that was almost 49 years ago.  How would you counsel couples like us? 
      But in those 49 years, we’ve made some special observations!  We’ll be walking along when I’ll bring up a subject.  Immediately she’ll ask, “how did you know that that is what I was thinking about?”  Or she would ask a question, and I’ll answer it BEFORE she even finishes the question.  And she asks, “Isn’t that frightening how well we KNOW each other?”.
     “Knowledge” means “a deep and intimate, full knowledge [of God]”.  And note that that comes “through wisdom and revelation”, not something new but rather what has already been stated.  Do you remember Romans 10:17: “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”
     Is your priority someone’s books ABOUT the Bible, or is it the Bible itself?  What is your priority in daily Bible reading, that you may have an intimate, deep, full knowledge of God?
     The last question we need to ask ourselves is, AM I GROWING IN THE LORD?  (See verses 18-20).
      Whoa be it for me to give some advice on growth!  I’m 5’2” tall, mom was 4’ 10” tall.  (My dad was 6’ 1” tall – go figure!).  
     But note the verse:  “eyes of your understanding being enlightened”.  That means “your heart FLOODED WITH LIGHT” that you may know how you should live and how to respond to the cares of everyday life.
     Paul told the Hebrew believers, “let us go on to maturity” (Hebrews 6:1).
     Paul prayed for the Ephesians, that they would be flooded, overwhelmed with the DAILY hand of God.  By this they could test whether or not they were maturing in the Lord.
     Paul then gives 3 quick guides in his prayer life for the maturity of the Ephesian believers:
(1). The hope of their calling (see Romans 8:28-29).  God’s investment of His time and Son should promote holiness, conformity to His Son. (2).  The riches of His inheritance (see Psalm 8:1-4).  Contrast the beauty of God’s creation with God’s eternal attention upon His children!
(3).  The greatness of His power.  “Power” is the Greek word “dynamos” from which we get the word “dynamite”.  It is the same perspective as the power of Niagara Falls from which power we can generate electricity.  As great as THAT is, how much greater is the power that raised Christ from the dead?  That power is working in us and available to us, so that we can live for Him!
     Are you growing in the Lord, conscious of His investment, His attention, His equipping for all our lives?
     I once officiated a wedding which, amazingly, included the following incident.  I asked the bride, “Debbie, are you willing to take Charlie as your wedded husband…?”.  She looked at me, she looked at Charlie, and then she looked at the crowd, and gave the most dramatic pause I’ve ever experienced at a wedding.  She ultimately DID say “YES!”.  But for years to come I kept a close eye on Debbie and Charlie.  They did ok!
     The being “flooded with the light” of God, as Paul shared with the Ephesian church depends upon the answer to 2 vital questions:
Are you willing to grow?
Are you willing to pray?
     What are your answers before our loving Heavenly Father?