Prayer and the Spirit Part 2

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Text: Eph. 1:15-17 (see Col. 1:9)

15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.

Introduction: Praying in the Spirit for the Spirit!

  • Paul is writing from Prison.
    • His status as a prisoner does not define him. (see 3:1-13)
      • He does not write to urge them to get him out of prison.
    • His mind is shaped by a reality greater than his imprisonment.
    • His heart is shaped by a relationship with Someone greater than those who have the power to imprison him.
  • His thoughts about the greatness of God and about these followers of Jesus move him to write!

Explore the Text

“For this Reason”: The Balance of Praise and Prayer

  • Paul’s praise of God in 1:3-14 moves him to pray to God in 1:15-22.
    • Eph 1:3-14 is not fancy rhetoric.
      • Paul works at the edge of language to describe a stunning reality that determines our identity & life together in Christ.
      • Some read this & rush to get to something they can easily understand.
      • Scripture as God’s word deserves our thoughtful study & mindful meditation.
    • One of Paul’s Big Ideas in Eph. 1:3-14: Adopted as God’s children & heirs.
      • Paul mentions this before he mentions our forgiveness of sins.
      • See Rom 8:14-17—the Spirit and our adoption as God’s Sons/children in Christ.
    • A problem: Too often we focus on maintaining impressions rather than on becoming disciples who know they are loved by God and rely on Him.
      • Presenting ourselves to create an attractive appearance.
        • Similar to job interviews or dating.
      • The result is a shallow and unattractive Christianity.
  • Praise Becomes Prayer: John Stott points out that the two halves of Eph. 1 are both very long sentences in Greek.
    • Together they display the unity of praise (1:3-14—202 words) and prayer (1:15-23—169 words) in Paul as a thinker and in his letters.
  • Praise and Prayer Express the Reality of Our Relationship with Jesus.
    • The closer you get to Jesus, the more praise & prayer show up in your life.
    • If there is little prayer and praise in my life, I may need to ask a serious question: what is the deepest truth about me?
      • For many of us, our work, a relationship, or our politics determine our identity.
      • When someone challenges the source of my identity, I get upset.
      • Example of a friend who was going to spend time this weekend asking himself who he really is now that he has retired.
    • A Practical Suggestion to Learn about Praise and Prayer.
      • Memorize Psalms and passages of praise and prayer to teach yourself how to praise God and to form your prayers.
      • Speak praise aloud and with feelings of praise and gratitude.
      • Use scripture in your prayers.
      • Singing praise and prayers.

“Ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people,”: What Excites Paul the Prisoner

  • Your Faith in the Lord Jesus.
    • They do not just have beliefs about Jesus, they have entrusted their lives to Him as Lord.
      • When a crisis arises, you discover who or what you ultimately trust in for your security.
      • Jesus spoke about this in Mt. 6-7 as he dealt with the tendency to be anxious about the contingencies of our lives.
    • Setting our hearts and minds on Jesus. See Col. 3:1-4
  • Your Love for all God’s People.
    • Agape love works within us & stands in contrast to the way the world talks about love. See Col 3:12-14.
    • An expansive love for all God’s people.
      • Their love is not limited to a small circle inner circle of a few people that I know. It is much larger than my church!
      • Paul writes to Christians in large cities (Corinth & Rome) and in a region (like Galatia or churches surrounding Ephesus)
      • In our culture, so much of our Christian identity is primarily centered on a particular church affiliation.
    • Grateful for our mission committee encouraging us to work with other churches in our area.
  • Our Integrity: Faith working through love. Gal. 5:5-6
    • Becoming people of faith and love whose lives are for God’s glory.
    • For Faith and Love to develop in our hearts and minds we have work to do with Jesus in the power of the Spirit. See 3:5-11.

“I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation so that you may know Him better.”: Paul’s thanksgiving & prayer.

  • Unceasing thanksgiving and prayer.
    • As a prisoner for Christ, Paul constantly thinks about and prays for them. “I have not stopped…” and “I keep asking that…”
    • Prayer is necessary for a life in a world dominated by powerful spiritual forces of evil (see 6:18-20; also 2:1-10; 4:17-19)
    • Constant intercession for God’s people and the challenges of living for the kingdom in a world that is often hostile to God’s kingdom.
  • Praying to grow in our knowledge of God.
    • Praying with the Spirit (Rom. 8:26-27).
    • Praying for the Spirit to reveal and provide wisdom.
    • As God answers this prayer it transforms our life together. 4:11-16

Conclusion

  • Think about reports we receive from Christians in Ukraine.
    • Their faith in the reality of God as war rages around them and destroys many of the systems that people trust in.
    • Their love acts to care for others who are suffering.
    • It leads many of us to be thankful for them & desire to help them.
    • It should also lead us to be in continual prayer for them.
  • If such a life is possible, why don’t we desire it?
    • We need Paul’s prayer for the Spirit to change our minds & hearts.
    • It begins with entrusting yourself to Jesus as your Lord and Savior.
    • It continues as you develop your trust in Jesus as your Lord & Savior.
    • There may be someone here today who desires to begin or there may be someone who needs the prayers of your family in Christ.