3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. 5 He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight 9 he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11 In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, 12 so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; 14 this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:3-14
Even though we testify to our faith in Christ, it is sometimes hard to live that faith when it is challenged. For example, while many people turned immediately to God in prayer on September 11, 2001, many other people looked at the violence and destruction and thought God had failed them. Without judging one or the other behavior, it is important to realize that faith and faithful behaviors must mature over time in our lives the same way our bodies mature. A newborn baby cannot even sit up, let alone walk, but a year later, most babies can do both things. Christians can be just like newborn babies if they do not grow their faith and mature in the way they live their faith. This text, from Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus, is about growing and maturing in faith. Just as a helpless baby who needs others to care for him must grow up and become an adult, Christians also need to mature in faith. A Christian never becomes self-sufficient, because as we mature in faith we learn to rely more, not less, on Christ, but the process of maturing in faith, like the process of maturing physically, takes time.
One way to grow our faith is to borrow the prayers Paul prayed and write them on our hearts by putting ourselves into those prayers. For example, in this passage, Paul says, “In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance.” If I use my own name in the passage, I take possession of Paul’s prayer for myself. Watch how the text becomes more personal and important when I do that.
In Christ, Katherine has also obtained an inheritance.
Now Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians becomes my own testimony to the promise of God in my own life. I am an heir of God’s riches. I, Katherine Harms, am a child of God and an heir through Christ. This is personal. This verse speaks to me personally. It gets my attention in a different way that when I read it as a teaching for the ancient Ephesians.
Read this text aloud. Everywhere Paul uses the word “you” or “we” or “our” – any personal pronoun – replace that word with your own name. If you have trouble doing this, you can click below to download a copy of the text with blank lines everywhere your name belongs. Read this text and pray this text until the message becomes personal for you.
Click Here 07112012_Make Pauls Letter Personal
You can use this method to make any prayer or any other text personal for you. The prayers and promises of the Bible are all meant for you. When God speaks through the Bible, he is speaking for you and to you. One way to start writing those texts in your own heart is to use your own name in them.
This is a good way to make the prayers and texts personal for someone else, too. If you are praying for a friend, you can read a Bible text and insert your friend’s name into the text. You can borrow the words of the Bible, powerful words that don’t come naturally from your own lips, for your prayers for other people.
The Bible is not a neutral book. It is a personal book. The Bible reveals to us what it is like to be a human being in relationship with God, and that relationship can become more alive and more real to us if we put our own names in the story. That, after all, is what Jesus did for us on the cross. Jesus was praying for you and for me when he prayed, “Father, forgive Katherine Harms, for she knows not what she is doing.” Jesus called my name, and he called your name, and he put us into his story that day. You can grow and mature in faith by doing that with the texts of the Bible.