Monday, December 14, 2009

Gleanings from the Pastor's Perspective: Prayer as Praise to God

The Pastor’s Perspective
Vol. 30 Num. 18
“Prayer as Praise to God”
First Published: May 22, 1997

Over the past several weeks, we have been surveying Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 1:3-14. Today, we bring our study to a close. When we first began to consider this great prayer, we suggested that there are two marks of God-centered prayer: the presence of much adoration of God, and the presence of much thanksgiving.

These marks are reflected perfectly in Paul’s prayer. We have, so far, seen that it is trinitarian (that is, it highlights the work of the blessed Trinity in our salvation), decretal (that is, it accents the sovereignty of God in the whole work of redemption), redemptive (that is, God’s redeeming, saving blessings are systematically rehearsed in it), Father-focused (that is, the Father’s goodness, love, and initiative are celebrated repeatedly), Christ-centered (that is, the integral role of the Son’s redemptive work is accentuated), and Spirit-dependent (that is, the Holy Spirit is viewed as both the substance and conduit of blessing).

The final attribute of this prayer to which I would draw your attention is that it is doxological (that is, the prayer’s ultimate direction is toward the praise of God). Our English word “doxology” is borrowed directly from a Greek (and then Latin) word which means “uttering praise” or “giving glory.” Hence, the “Doxology” which we sing so frequently (a beautiful composition of Thomas Ken) is literally “an utterance of praise and thanksgiving to God.”

There is a real sense in which the whole of Paul’s prayer is a doxology. He is focused on the adoration of God (giving Him glory) and on thanksgiving (acknowledging his gratitude to God for Who He is and for His specific blessings). But, additionally, there are three little doxologies included in Paul’s prayer. He concludes his section focusing of the work of the Father (in verses 3-6) by indicating that His plan of redemption is “to the praise of the glory of his grace” (6). He closes the section that emphasizes the role of the Son (in verses 7-12) by indicating that Christ’s saving work and ultimate exaltation is all “to the praise of his glory” (12). And he finishes the prayer, and specifically the section that concentrates on the blessing of the Holy Spirit (verses 13-14) by indicating that the Spirit’s assuring work is also “to the praise of his glory” (14).

What a pattern we have here for prayer: fulsome adoration and thanksgiving. May God make us all mighty in this kind of prayer.

Your friend,

Ligon Duncan

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