A recent research brief from the Institute for Family Studies reports that praying with a spouse is “a stronger predictor of relationship quality than other religious factors in our statistical models. It is also a better predictor of relationship quality than race, education, age, sex, or region.”
Christians don’t base discipleship on statistics, of course, but it is no surprise that God’s good gift of praying together brings reports of happiness. Not only in families but also in churches and among friends, praying together is an expression of the closeness believers have in Christ. As the old Sunday school song goes: “He is the vine, and we are the branches.” Today’s passage describes the church as a body that grows, matures, and uses every part as it does its work, an image which highlights the essential connectedness of fellow Christians through their shared relationship to Christ.
In verses 4 through 6, Paul repeatedly uses the word one to reinforce just how much Christians have in common. We are part of one body and indwelt by one Spirit, and we also have one unified hope that gives rise to one profession of faith.
Our relationship to one another is also a matter for intentional effort. In verse 3, Paul exhorts his readers to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” The believers in Ephesus met for worship, served one another, encouraged one another, exhorted one another, and prayed with and for one another as an expression of their relationship and as a means of strengthening those bonds. Prayers of intercession, in particular, allowed the early church to unite their hearts even as they united their voices, allowing them to bear one another’s burdens to the One who cares for all of His people.