The Book of EPHESIANS
James J. Barker


Lesson 4
PAUL’S PRAYER FOR GOD’S POWER

Text: EPHESIANS 1:15-21


INTRODUCTION


  1. Tonight’s text is appropriate for us – we need to pray.
  2. In our previous studies, the apostle Paul traced God’s program from eternity past to eternity future.
  3. Some of these doctrines are quite deep and so now Paul prays that God will grant readers “the spirit of wisdom” to understand these wonderful truths.
  4. Paul’s desire for them is that they might appreciate their glorious privileges in Christ, and “the exceeding greatness” of God’s power available to those of us who believe.
  5. This same power raised our Lord from the dead (1:19, 20).
  6. “Wherefore” (1:15) ties this passage in with the preceding verses.  This looks back to all that God has done and will yet do for those who are “chosen in Him” (1:4), who have been predestinated (1:5), who have been “accepted in the beloved” (1:6), and redeemed through the blood of Christ (1:7).

 

I.     PAUL PRAYED WITH THANKSGIVING (1:15, 16).

II. PAUL PRAYED FOR PEOPLE BY NAME (1:16b).

III. PAUL PRAYED FOR SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS (1:17-19).

 

I. PAUL PRAYED WITH THANKSGIVING (1:15, 16).

  1. After Paul heard of their “faith in the Lord Jesus and love unto all the saints” (1:15), he ceased not to give thanks to God for the Christians in the church at Ephesus.
  2. If a person has genuine faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, he will have love for his fellow believers (cf. John 15:9, 12; I John 2:10).
  3. Notice it is “love unto all the saints,” not just some of the saints, or love unto the saints in their church or in their little clique.  I am a Baptist and Lord willing will remain one till the Lord calls me home, but I love all Christians, regardless of their denomination.
  4. Paul prayed with thanksgiving (1:16).  W. Graham Scroggie distinguished thanksgiving and intercession this way: “Thanksgiving is for the foundation already laid, but intercession is for the superstructure going up.  Thanksgiving is for past attainments, but intercession is for future advancements” (cited by William MacDonald).

 

II. PAUL PRAYED FOR PEOPLE BY NAME (1:16b).

  1. “Making mention of you in my prayers” means that Paul called them all by name.  Paul must have had a good prayer list.
  2. In the book of acts, chapters 19 and 20, we read that Paul established the church in Ephesus.  Therefore, he knew many of the people.  When you pray for fellow believers, missionaries, etc. pray for them by name.  And pray specifically.
  3. J. Vernon McGee says that he was standing next to a great preacher one time, and some folk came up and spoke to him and shook hands with him and Dr. McGee.  One man said to the preacher: “I’m praying for you.”  The preacher replied, “Thank you very much, but do you mention me by name?  I don’t want the Lord to get me mixed up with somebody else.”
  4. The idea here is to call people by name when you pray for them.

 

III. PAUL PRAYED FOR SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS (1:17-19).

  1. Paul had his priorities right.  He did not pray for material things but for spiritual blessings (1:17).
  2. If you study carefully the prayers in the Bible, you will see that the emphasis is always on spiritual blessings (cf. Luke 11:13).
  3. I am not saying that it is wrong to pray for material things.  We are to pray about everything.  If you need a car or a house, then you ought to pray about it.  But we ought to be more concerned about spiritual things than cars or houses.
  4. And if God chooses to give us a car or a house let’s make sure that we are using them in His service.
  5. This is where I have a strong disagreement with the charismatics.  I find their emphasis on wealth and prosperity unscriptural.
  6. We need to ask God to give us – not a million dollars or a big boat or fancy clothes – but “the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him” (1:17).  The “Spirit of wisdom” is the Holy Spirit (cf. Isa. 11:2).
  7. We need to ask God to open our eyes spiritually so that we may better understand His Word (1:18).
  8. “Revelation” (1:17) deals with the imparting of knowledge, specifically “the knowledge of Him,” i.e. God. “Wisdom” (1:17) has to do with the proper use of this knowledge.
  9. This knowledge cannot be gained the way you learn science or mathematics or history, but only by the Holy Spirit (cf. I Cor. 2:9-16; II Cor. 4:6).
  10. This is the first of two prayers of Paul’s in this epistle (cf. 3:14-21). You learn a lot about a person when you pray with them.  I shall never forget praying with my pastor one day and he prayed specifically for my parents’ salvation even though we had not discussed it for a long time.
  11. Notice Paul too prayed specifically.  When you pray, be specific.

 

CONCLUSION:

A preacher explained Ephesians 1:18 this way: “A man has to be enlightened before he can see and comprehend the things of God.  But the Holy Spirit can speak the things of God to us for He knows God and He understands God – He is God.  He opens to view the things of God and shows us their meaning and their purpose.  He fits together all the providences of the Lord.  He knows the mind of God, He illuminates us, and He places life and history before us in such a way that we can see purpose and reason” (WA Criswell, Ephesians).



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