The prayer life of the apostle Paul was remarkable. Right at the beginning of his Christian life it was stated, ‘Behold he prays.’ He tells the churches to which he wrote that he interceded for their members every time he prayed. For the Thessalonians he prayed night and day. He prayed for all the churches and he prayed for the restoration of Israel. He knew the importance of the prayers of others on his behalf. Paul was a man of prayer who encouraged others to pray in all situations, even in ones in which they did not know what to ask, because the Holy Spirit made intercession for them.
Paul here begins his section on prayer with the phrase ‘for this reason’. He is referring back to the previous section, maybe to the immediately previous clause, ‘to the praise of his glory,’ or perhaps to the previous subject, which is the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the lives of Christians, or most likely to the passage as a whole. He could pray for the Ephesians because he knew that God’s purpose was to bless them.
But Paul also says that his prayers were influenced by what he had heard about his readers. It was ‘when’ he heard the report of their ongoing development as Christians, particularly in the areas of loyalty to Jesus and love to all his people, that he was encouraged to pray for specific things.
So Paul’s prayer here was marked by two features: first, he knows God’s purpose in general for his people and, second, he is informed about the actual situation of those for whom he is praying. We can imitate him and pray for one another.