Praying the Prayers of the Apostle Paul–Ephesians 1
PRAYERS OF THE APOSTLE PAUL—Ephesians 1:15-23
- Paul has five prayers—2 in Ephesians, 1 in Philippians, 1 in Colossians, and 1 in 2 Thessalonians.
- If you want you to know what Paul taught, read his prayers and hear what he wants them to know.
- If you want to hear a good summary of a pastor’s sermon, listen to his closing prayer. That is what he wants you to take home.
- Ephesians 2—Text about the doctrine of the body of Christ. God has taken the lost individual from alienation of sin and brought him into intimacy with God as God’s child through Jesus Christ.
- God has taken the Gentiles and reconciled them with Jews to become one body in Christ.
V1-14—Trinity’s work in redemption. Emphasizes God’s work in our redemption, Jesus Christ being the ransom for our redemption, and the Holy Spirit sealing us.
V15-16—Paul is not simply content to see God’s people converted. He wants them to grow in their faith so that is why Paul is praying for them.
- Paul is spurred to prayer so they will move on to growth in their walk with God. Paul’s passion is that they will develop an intimacy with God.
- Paul’s thanksgiving is concerned with the work of God in the lives of those he is addressing.
- Love is a true evidence of conversion.
A saint is someone whose life makes it easier to believe in God.
William Barclay, Leadership, Vol. 8, no. 2
- James Montgomery Boyce—greatest need in the church today is for Christians to KNOW God intimately.
- AW Tozer—Biggest error in the evangelical church today is because we have found God, we need no longer seek Him.
In his book, Connecting, Larry Crabb writes:
A friend of mine was raised in an angry family. Mealtimes were either silent or sarcastically noisy. Down the street was an old-fashioned house with a big porch where a happy family lived. My friend told me that when he was about ten, he began excusing himself from his dinner table as soon as he could without being yelled at, and walking to the old-fashioned house down the street. If he arrived during dinnertime, he would crawl under the porch and just sit there, listening to the sounds of laughter.
When he told me this story, I asked him to imagine what it would have been like if the father in the house somehow knew he was huddled beneath the porch and sent his son to invite him in. I asked him to envision what it would have meant to him to accept the invitation, to sit at the table, to accidentally spill his glass of water, and hear the father roar with delight, “Get him more water! And a dry shirt! I want him to enjoy the meal!”
Crabb goes on to say, “We need to hear the Father laugh. Change depends on experiencing the character of God.”
David Slagle, Lawrenceville, Georgia; source: Larry Crabb, Connecting (Word, 1997
- Paul is seeking to KNOW Christ—Philippians 3:13-14
- David desperately sought after God.
V17—Paul is passionate about what he wants God’s people to receive.
- “Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him”—Paul is praying about a certain attitude.
- Spirit==this is the attitude that Paul wants to be in God’s children.
- Beginning of wisdom is the fear of God.
- Wisdom==application of Bible. Heart that is broken to be altered by God.
- Knowledge of Him==attitude toward His Bible.
- Knowledge==ascertaining data—kids cram for test and then dump it out on the paper before they forget.
- Revelation==come to the Bible and have the “covers” pulled back and see who God is. Read His Word and God’s Spirit grabs us.
- Love letters between a boyfriend & girlfriend—analyze every word and phrase so you can understand the intent of the person who wrote it.
- Bible is God’s love letter to His children and we are reading someone else’s mail if we don’t know Christ.
- God’s Word can individually tutor us in our faith—1 John 2:27.
- Is it possible because of sin in one’s life, open disobedience, or passive indifference to the things of God—a Christian can have blindness to God’s Word and the things of God? Yes, God cannot teach them and nothing will go in. They have an embolism in their soul and because of sin, there is a blockage in understanding the things of God.
- Hebrews 5:11-14—they are dull of hearing instead of quick to hear in James 1:19. They still need someone to teach them the ABCs of the oracles of God—they should by now be teachers themselves. But instead, they are still spiritual infants. They cannot digest anything stronger than spiritual milk, the food of infants.
- 1 Corinthians 2:13-16; 3:1-2–
- v13—Paul taught spiritual things combined with spiritual people and they quickly learned the things of God.
- V14—Natural man—non-Christians—(psychikos) cannot receive things of God—cannot make sense of it because they lack the Holy Spirit. They are may have the world’s wisdom but they are unable to understand the things of God. They do not accept the things of the Holy Spirit because they are foolishness to them. God’s wisdom is rejected as foolishness by those who are perishing (1 Cor. 1:18, 23). People are revealed for who they are by their response to the cross.
- V15—Spiritual man—(pneumatikos) the person with the Holy Spirit is tuned into the things of God—very teachable and they are desperate to learn God’s Word. It is the Holy Spirit who searches all things that pertain to the works of salvation, even the depths of God (1 Cor. 2:10). “The profane person cannot understand holiness; but the holy person can well understand the depths of evil.” Being spiritual does not lead to elitism; it leads to a deeper understanding of God’s profound mystery—redemption through a crucified Messiah.
- Ch3:1-2a—when the Corinthians were converted, Paul gave them milk to drink, not solid food because they were unable to receive it. Paul was not chastising them, he was simply speaking fact. They were newborn Christians.
- Ch3:2b-3—(sarkinoi)—fleshly—Paul is now mad, at conversion they were not able to eat spiritual “meat” but by now, they ought to be able to. They should have grown up spiritually and they did not. Instead, they think they are “grown up” and mature but in reality, they are still spiritual babies and they are acting like the world with its fallen and twisted values.. They are imitating those who do not know Christ. They are fighting amongst themselves, they are jealous of each other, the unmarried are living together, they are suing each other, they are claiming superiority to one another, and many other sins. They are fleshly—imitating the world. Paul wants them to stop thinking and acting like people of this present age. They have the Holy Spirit but they are thinking and acting like they do not have Him in them.
- The Corinthian’s failure to understand the wisdom spoken in a mystery is not due to the fact that Paul is withholding it from them, but is the result of their own inability to digest what he is offering them.
- Tommy Nelson—“The greatest problem in the church today is Christians who don’t know God and they don’t know God because they are babies and they have sin in their lives.” Christians living in sin must first get out of that sin—repent—then they can be teachable of the things of God.
- Natural man—unbeliever.
- Spiritual man—walking with God, wanting to learn the things of God.
- Baby Christian—Having only accepted Christ for 2 years or less.
- Carnal Christian—acts like a baby when he should not be a baby in Christ. It is no longer cute.
V18—what it means to know God.
- “the eyes of your heart”—literally spiritual eyesight. We are given the “illumination of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ (2 Cor. 4:6)”.
- Prayer is made that they may understand God’s ways and His purpose, with special reference to His dealings with His people; the hope to which He has called them, the rich inheritance which He possesses in them, and the mighty power with which He energizes them.
- Hope==definitive body of Truth. Something that will not pass away. It is the light at the end of the tunnel.
- What is the hope for the Christians? God’s calling==that God has summoned us, He has called us, I am grafted to Him, sealed in Him, and someday God will raise me from the dead. We are now looking for the blessed hope.
- How are you doing? One may say, “My wife totaled the car, the bank reposed my house, doctors found cancer in my body—but I am doing great”—WHY? Because I am going home one day and because I am His and He is mine.
- Hope of our calling—what kids feel on Christmas Eve. Go to bed early so they can wake up to the presents their father left for them. Our hope is heaven awaits us and someday, we will wake up to the presents and BEING IN THE PRESENCE of our Heavenly Father.
The story is told of the foreman on a building site who asks one of the builders what he is doing. The builder replies, “I’m breaking rocks.”
Another worker is asked the same question, and he answers, “I’m earning for my family.”
The question is posed to a third worker. With a glint in his eye, he responds, “I’m building a cathedral.”
Submitted by Owen Bourgaize, Guernsey, United Kingdom
- “What are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints”—
- inheritance==wealthy father leaves everything to the children who did not earn it or deserve it.
- It means you learn of who you are and what God has made for you.
- We are joint heirs with Jesus.
- When we come to the gates of heaven and see the lake of fire below, John 3:16 will have a new meaning and will come alive.
- Recognizing the riches of His glory—come to gripes with what He has done for us as best we can.
- Excitement about heaven and a true joy of what awaits us.
- Surpassing greatness of God’s power—
- If the death of Christ is the supreme demonstration of the love of God, as Paul wholeheartedly believed (Romans 5:8), the resurrection of Christ is the supreme demonstration of His power (Romans 6:4).
- And glorious power, in its “surpassing greatness,” is at work in the people of Christ; it is the “Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead” that dwells in them (Romans 8:11), energizing the new life within their mortal bodies and so making them hope of resurrection real for them.
- Jesus and the feeding of the 5,000—He turned to Philip and said, “you give them something to eat!” Jesus again asked, “how many loaves do you have?”—He took them, blessed them, and broke them and then distributed them.
- Jesus is saying the same thing to us today—we have His power within us—“you give them something to eat!” and all we want to say to the multitudes is send them away.
- God wants us to live a soul winning, super natural life in Him.
- Power is found in Christ—Philippians 4:13.
- All things in heaven and in earth are subjected to Christ’s feet—Christ is supreme to all.
- Whatever grades of authority there are in the universe, they are all inferior to Christ.
- V22—“He subjected all things beneath His feet”—quote from Psalm 8:6.
- Christ exercises universal lordship, and in particulate God has given Him as “head over all things”—that is, “supreme head”—to the church.
- God has not just saved us—we are His bride—He is the head and we are the body—He is the vine and we are the branches—we are His fullness.
- He is the cornerstone and we are the living stones.
- The power with which God works in the lives of believers is the power by which He raised Christ from death to share His throne.
Couples on the day of marriage simply have a legal contract but they are about to learn about each other intimately in all areas of life.
At conversion, we have a “legal contract” for a new relationship—v1-14 speak of what happens at conversion—v15-23 speak about developing intimacy with God.