Ephesians 1 15 23


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Ephesians 1 15 23

  1. 1. Ephesians  1:15-­‐23   “Praying  Like  Paul”       1. Introduction.  Prayer  is  at  the  very  heart  of  the  Christian  life.  It  is  one  of  the  means  of  grace,   one  of  the  ways  that  God  strengthens  our  faith  and  enables  us  to  live  faithfully  in  the  world.   If   we   are   not   praying   then   we   are   not   growing—if   we’re   not   praying,   we   are   cutting   ourselves  off  from  God.     a. The  Westminster  Larger  Catechism  (Q/A  54)  says:     “Q.  What  are  the  outward  and  ordinary  means  whereby  Christ  communicates  to  his   church  the  benefits  of  his  mediation  [between  God  and  us]?”     “A.  The  outward  and  ordinary  means  whereby  Christ  communicates  to  his  church  the   benefits   of   his   mediation,   are   all   his   ordinances;   especially   the   word,   sacraments,   and  prayer;  all  which  are  made  effectual  to  the  elect  for  their  salvation.”     In  other  words,  through  the  ordinances  (such  as  prayer),  God  preserves  us  in  our   salvation  and  holds  onto  us,  growing  us  into  the  likeness  of  Jesus  Christ.     b. Charles  Spurgeon  highlighted  the  importance  of  prayer  in  the  life  of  the  believers   when  he  wrote,     “All   hell   is   vanquished   when   the   believer   bows   his   knee   in   [earnest]   supplication.   Beloved  brethren,  let  us  pray.  We  cannot  all  argue,  but  we  can  all  pray;  we  cannot   all  be  leaders,  but  we  can  all  be  pleaders;  we  cannot  all  be  mighty  in  rhetoric,  but  we   can  all  be  prevalent  in  prayer.  I  would  sooner  see  you  eloquent  with  God  than  with   men.  Prayer  links  us  with  the  Eternal,  the  Omnipotent,  the  Infinite,  and  hence  it  is   our  chief  resort….Be  sure  that  you  are  with  God,  and  then  you  may  be  sure  that  God   is  with  you.”     c. In  this  section  of  Scripture,  Paul  erupts  into  a  prayer  for  the  recipients  of  his  letter.   In  so  doing,  he  writes  a  summary  of  the  way  in  which  he  prays  for  the  believers  in   Ephesus.     d. We  can  draw  some  conclusions  about  our  own  prayer  lives  from  this  account.  And   we  can  allow  Paul’s  example  to  positively  influence  our  own  life  of  prayer  so  that  we   can   grow   to   become   mature   followers   of   Christ   whose   lives   are   marked   by   deep   intimacy  with  God  in  prayer.       2. Summary.  Let’s  try  to  form  a  mental  picture  of  Paul’s  prayer  life  on  the  basis  of  this  portion   of  his  letter  to  the  Ephesians  and  some  of  his  other  letters.  You  could  sum  up  Paul’s  prayer   life  with  three  phrases  that  occur  in  this  passage:     a. “I  do  not  cease…”  –  Paul  prayed  regularly  or  continually—he  was  committed  to  an   on-­‐going  life  of  prayer  during  the  course  of  every  day.  
  2. 2.   b. “…to   give   thanks…”   –   Paul   expressed   thanks   and   gratitude   in   his   prayers— thankfulness  was  a  critical  characteristic  of  his  recorded  prayers.     c. “…and   to   remember   you   in   my   prayers”   –   Paul   prayed   for   others.   Paul   had   a   ministry   of   intercession:   he   lifted   up   the   needs,   the   lives,   the   ministries   of   the   churches  and  individuals  he  served.     3. Paul  prayed  regularly  or  continually.  His  life  was  devoted  to  prayer  and  not,  perhaps,  in  the   way   we   typically   think—Paul   was   not   a   monk,   he   was   an   apostle.   An   apostle   has   a   very   active  life,  one  marked  by  travel,  teaching,  counseling.  He  didn’t  live  cloistered  like  a  monk.     a. Some  examples  from  his  letters  in  the  New  Testament  illustrate  the  constancy  of   Paul’s  prayers:     i. “Pray  without  ceasing…”  –  1  Thessalonians  5:17     ii. “[Pray]  at  all  times  in  the  Spirit…”  –  Ephesians  6:18     iii. “Be  constant  in  prayer…”  –  Romans  6:18     iv. “Continue  steadfastly  in  prayer,  being  watchful  in  it  with  thanksgiving…”  –   Colossians  4:2     b. As   Christian   disciples,   we   have   to   ask   the   question:   what   does   it   means   to   pray   continually  or  to  pray  without  ceasing?  It  could  easily  conjure  up  images  of  a  monk   living   in   a   cloister   and   never   leaving   his   cell—simply   praying   all   day   long.   As   I   mentioned,  Paul  was  an  apostle  and  not  a  monk.  His  life  was  full  to  the  brim  with   travel   and   the   adventures   of   being   a   church   leader   in   an   age   of   persecution.   Whatever   it   means,   pray   without   ceasing   cannot   mean   doing   nothing   other   than   praying.     i. To  enter  into  prayer  throughout  the  day  and  to  cultivate  an  awareness  of   living   life   in   the   presence   of   God   and   periodically   acknowledging   God’s   presence  by  voicing  a  prayer—of  thanks,  of  supplication,  of  confession,  of   adoration.     ii. It  is  said  that  Charles  Spurgeon  never  prayed  for  more  than  five  minutes  and   never  went  longer  than  five  minutes  without  praying.  He  sheds  some  light   on  the  subject  when  he  writes,     “If  I  am  to  pray  without  ceasing,  then  every  second  must  be  suitable   for  prayer,  and  there  is  not  one  unholy  moment  in  the  hour,  nor  one   unaccepted  hour  in  the  day,  nor  one  unhallowed  day  in  the  year.  The   Lord   has   not   appointed   a   certain   week   for   prayer,   but   all   weeks   should  be  weeks  of  prayer:  neither  has  he  said  that  one  hour  of  the   day  is  more  acceptable  than  another.  All  time  is  equally  legitimate   for  supplication,  equally  holy,  equally  accepted  with  God,  or  else  we  
  3. 3. should  not  have  be  told  to  pray  without  ceasing.  It  is  good  to  have   your   times   of   prayer;   it   is   good   to   set   apart   seasons   for   special   supplication—we  have  no  doubt  of  that;  but  we  must  never  all  this   to  gender  the  superstition  that  there  is  a  certain  holy  hour  for  prayer   in  the  morning,  a  specially  acceptable  hour  for  prayer  in  the  evening,   and   a   sacred   time   for   prayer   at   certain   seasons   of   the   year.   Wherever   we   seek   the   Lord   with   true   hearts   he   is   found   of   us;   whenever   we   cry   unto   him   he   heareth   us.   Every   play   is   hallowed   ground  to  a  hallowed  heart,  and  every  day  is  a  holy  day  to  a  holy   man.”       (Source:  Pray  without  Ceasing).     iii. Perhaps  it  won’t  be  news  to  you  for  me  to  say:  we  are  limited  people—our   energy  is  limited,  our  attention  span  is  limited,  as  is  our  time,  and  certainly   our   faith.   Even   if   we   tried,   few   of   us   could   pray   for   24   hours   or   even   24   minutes.     1. God   knows   this   and   so   He   invites   us   to   pray   regularly,   to   pray   frequently,   to   make   a   habit   of   prayer   so   that   we   encounter   His   regularly  in  ways  that  renew  us.     2. We   will   find   that   as   we   devote   ourselves   to   prayer   our   faith   will   grow  as  will  our  ability  and  desire  to  be  in  prayer  through  the  day.     3. You  might  consider  praying  at  the  major  transitions  of  your  day:  as   you  rise,  as  you  arrive  at  your  place  of  work,  as  you  sit  to  eat  lunch,   as  you  arrive  home,  as  you  sit  for  dinner,  as  you  retire  to  bed.  A  ten-­‐ minute  pray  during  these  six  transitions  of  the  day  would  be  sixty   minutes  of  prayer.     4. Paul  gave  thanks  in  his  prayer.  Throughout  the  New  Testament,  Paul’s  prayers  have  the   quality  of  gratitude  to  them.  Let’s  take  a  look  at  this  theme  of  gratitude  in  Paul’s  prayers.     a. I’d  like  you  to  notice  first  that  Paul  was  thankful.     i. Thanksgiving  was  a  critical  part  of  Paul’s  prayer  life.  Whenever  he  prayed,   whenever  he  petitioned  God,  he  did  so  in  conjunction  with  thanksgiving.     1. Ephesians  5:19-­‐21   2. Philippians  4:6   3. Colossians  3:15-­‐17   4. 1  Thessalonians  5:17-­‐18     ii. It’s  important  that  in  our  prayer  we  practice  the  discipline  of  giving  thanks,   even  when  we  don’t  want  to.  Why?     1. It  reminds  us  of  God’s  blessings  to  us.  
  4. 4.   2. It  helps  us  to  avoid  being  morbid  or  depressed  in  our  prayers.     3. It  sets  the  context  for  our  prayer  about  pain  and  suffering,  which   are  real,  and  reminds  them  that  while  they  are  real  they  are  not  all   that  is  real.     It’s  a  mark  of  our  culture  that  we  tend  to  emphasize  what  we  do  not   have,  what  rights  have  been  denied  to  us,  rather  than  celebrating  what   we  do  have.  If  we  carry  this  cultural  blind  spot  into  our  life  of  faith,  we   will   find   ourselves   quickly   becoming   bitter   disciples,   angry   Christians   whose  prayers  too  easily  become  a  list  of  gripes  and  complaints  against   God.  Of  course  God  will  hear  this  prayer,  but  God  will  not  desire  that   you  remain  the  pray-­‐er  of  such  prayer—He  will  work  to  move  you  in  a   deeper  sense  of  joy  in  Him.     b. Notice  why  was  Paul  grateful  or  thankful.       i. He  outlines  his  reasons  for  us  in  a  number  of  his  prayers—he  is  thankful  for   the   good   reports   he   has   heard   regarding   the   churches   in   and   around   Ephesus.     1. “…Because  of  their  faith  in  the  Lord  Jesus”  (v.  15a)     2. “…because  of  their  love  toward  all  the  saints”  (v.  15b)     ii. On   a   number   of   occasions,   when   Paul   talks   about   his   own   prayer   life,   he   says  that  he  prays  specifically  for  believers  to  grow  in  faith  and  love.     1. Colossians  1:4  –  “…since  we  heard  of  your  faith  in  Christ  Jesus  and   of  the  love  that  you  have  for  all  the  saints…”     2. Philemon  5  –  “…because  I  hear  of  our  love  and  of  the  faith  that  you   have  toward  the  Lord  Jesus  and  all  the  saints…”     iii. Why  is  this  Paul’s  prayer?  Because  faith  and  love  are  qualities  of  a  Christ-­‐like   life.     1. Charles   Hodge   called   faith   and   love,   “…the   two   leading   grace   of   Christian  character.”  (Source:  Hodge,  Ephesians,  p.  50)     iv. Paul  had  “heard”  about  the  progress  of  the  Ephesian  Christians  (v.  15).     1. Paul  kept  in  touch  with  the  churches  he  had  started—he  received   regular  reports  about  what  was  going  on  in  those  places  and  with   the  people  he  had  served.    
  5. 5. a. To   the   Colossians   he   wrote,   “We   always   thank   God,   the   Father  of  our  Lord  Jesus  Christ  when  we  pray  for  you,  since   we  have  heard  of  your  faith  in  Christ  Jesus  and  the  love  you   have  for  all  the  saints…”  (1:4)     b. To  Philemon:  “…because  I  hear  of  your  love  and  of  the  faith   which  you  have  toward  all  the  saints”  (5)     c. To  the  Romans:  “…I  thank  my  God  through  Jesus  Christ  for   all  of  you,  because  your  faith  is  proclaimed  in  all  the  world”   (1:8).     2. Paul   evidently   was   in   contact   with   the   elders   that   he   had   commissioned  in  Ephesus  and  Asia,  learning  from  them  concerning   the  health  and  vitality  of  the  congregations  under  their  care.     3. Application:  Paul  heard  good  reports  from  those  churches…     a. Do   our   lives   (individually   and   together   as   a   congregation)   commend  Christ  to  others?     b. Does   our   maturity   in   the   Christian   Faith   and   our   patient   suffering  in  the  world  cause  others  to  wonder  about  Christ?       c. Also  notice  how  Paul  is  thankful.     i. The   New   American   Standard   Bible   (NASB)   translates   verse   16:   “For   this   reason  I  too,  having  heard  of  the  faith  in  the  Lord  Jesus  which  exists  among   you  and  your  love  for  all  the  saints,  do  not  cease  making  mention  of  your  in   my  prayers…”     1. Paul’s  choice  of  “remembering”  or  “making  mention”  suggests  that   he  was  in  the  practice  of  mentioning  people  or  groups  of  people  in   his  prayer.     ii. So,  Paul’s  thanksgiving  is  specific  rather  than  general  or  generic.     1. There’s  nothing  particularly  sinful  about  praying,  “thank  you  for  my   many  blessings…”     2. There  is  something  better,  however,  about  naming  those  blessings   and  thanking  God  for  them.     3. Likewise   as   we   pray   for   needs,   it   is   better   to   pray   for   names   and   people  than  for  “those  in  need.”     a. It  can  soften  our  heart  to  those  who  suffer.  
  6. 6.   b. It   can   prompt   us   to   love   or   serve   them   through   an   act   of   kindness.     c. It   can   remind   us   of   the   many   good   things   that   are   in   our   lives,  things  that  can  so  easily  and  so  quickly  leave  us.     iii. Application:  when  you  pray  do  you  pray  for  people,  do  you  feel  for  them  as   you  name  them  before  the  throne  of  God?  Does  your  prayer  prompt  you  to   be  moved  to  love  and  serve  them?         5. What  is  the  content  of  Paul’s  prayers?  What  is  it  that  he  prayed  for  on  the  behalf  of  the   Christians  in  Ephesus?       a. That  you  would  have  “a  spirit  of  wisdom  and  revelation,”  that  their  eyes  would  be   opened  in  the  knowledge  of  God  (1:17-­‐19).     i. What  does  this  mean?     1. The  New  English  Bible  translates  the  verse  a  little  clearer:    that  they   would  have  “…the  spiritual  power  of  wisdom  and  vision…”     ii. “Wisdom”  and  “Revelation”  come  from  the  Holy  Spirit.  It  is  the  role  of  the   Holy   Spirit   to   indwell   the   heart   of   the   believer   and   to   provide   a   living,   intimate  connection  between  the  believer  and  the  Godhead.     1. Paul   is   referring   to   the   work   of   the   Holy   Spirit   to   allow   us   to   understand  and  apply  the  Bible  to  our  lives,  but  more  than  that,  the   work  of  the  Spirit  to  bring  us  into  relationship  with  Christ—to  reveal   Jesus  to  us.     2. The  Spirit  draws  us  to  God;  he  brings  us  to  God.  John’s  Gospel  tells   us,  “But  the  Helper,  the  Holy  Spirit,  whom  the  Father  will  send  in  my   name,  he  will  teach  you  all  things  and  bring  to  you  remembrance  all   that  I  have  said  to  you.”     3. Paul  writes,  “Now  we  have  received  not  the  spirit  of  this  world,  but   the   Spirit   who   is   from   God,   that   we   might   understand   the   things   freely  given  us  by  God”  (1  Co  2:12-­‐13).     4. These   gifts   come   from   union   with   Jesus   Christ—a   personal   relationship  with  God  (see  Ephesians  1:8).     5. It  is  impossible  to  see  the  riches  of  the  Glory  of  God  apart  from  God   allowing  us  to  behold  it.    
  7. 7. a. According  to  Paul,  his  Apostolic  mission  was:  “to  open  their   [the  Gentile’s]  eyes,  so  that  they  may  turn  from  darkness  to   light   and   from   the   power   of   Satan   to   God,   that   they   may   receive  forgiveness  of  sins  and  a  place  among  those  who  are   sanctified  in  [Jesus]”  Acts  26:18     b. That  they  would  have  knowledge  of  the  hope  they  are  called  to  (1:18a).       i. Other   translations   place   the   emphasis   on   the   calling   of   God   as   being   the   source  of  our  hope:     1. The  NASB  translates  it:  “…so  you  will  know  what  is  the  hope  of  his   calling…”     2. Charles  Hodge  translated  it:  “…the  hope  of  which  his  calling  is  the   source…”     ii. Let’s   dig   a   little   to   discover   what   is   that   calling?   Looking   across   the   New   Testament  we  can  survey:     1. We  are  called  to  God;  to  live  out  the  message  of  the  Gospel  of  His   glory  (past)  –  2  Timothy  1:9     2. We   are   called   to   live   in   a   manner   consistent   with   the   nature   and   attributes  of  God  (present)  –  Ephesians  4:1     3. We   are   called   to   pursue   God,   to   press   on   toward   Godliness   (holiness)  -­‐  Philippians  3:14     4. We  have  the  heavenly  calling  of  being  like  Christ,  our  elder  brother   (future)  –  Hebrews  3:1     5. We   are   called   to   be   one   with   Christ   as   He   is   formed   in   us   –   Colossians  1:27     c. That  they  would  have  knowledge  of  the  riches  of  their  spiritual  inheritance—that  is   the  inheritance  of  God  that  is  found  in  and  among  the  saints  (1:18b).     i. The  communion  of  saints  is  the  only  place  or  group  of  people  in  which  the   inheritance  of  God  is  to  be  found—it’s  nowhere  else.  We  are  bound  with   Christians   of   every   ethnicity,   every   culture,   from   every   age   of   Christian   history,  bound  together  as  joint-­‐heirs  of  the  spiritual  riches  of  Christ.     ii. As  we  are  enlightened  by  God’s  spirit,  they  increasingly  realize  the  riches  of   the  inheritance  they  have  received  in  Christ—     1. They  are  adopted  sons  and  daughters  of  God    
  8. 8. 2. Their  name  appears  on  the  “Last  Will  and  Testament”  of  God  the   father  declaring  them  forgiven  of  their  sins,  righteous  in  Christ,  and   destined  for  eternity  with  God.     3. It  is  so  easy  to  take  this  for  granted.  It  is  so  natural  to  forget—to   forget  our  identity  as  the  beloved  Children  of  the  King.  We  have  to   remind  ourselves  and  to  root  ourselves  in  our  true  identity  by:     a. Praying  regularly     b. Reading  Scripture  regularly     c. Partaking  of  the  Sacraments  regularly.     d. Knowledge   of   the   immensity   of   God’s   power—His   “immeasurable   greatness”   and   “great  might”—1:19     i. These  are  superlative  qualities—there  is  nothing  or  no  one  who  is  greater  or   mightier—and  they  are  stacked  on  one  another  again  and  again:     1. His  life-­‐giving,  body-­‐resurrecting  power     2. His  soul-­‐saving  power     3. His  dominion-­‐giving  power     4. Paul  is  Philippians  3:20-­‐21     a. “But  our  commonwealth  is  in  heaven,  and  from  it  we  await   a   Savior,   the   Lord   Jesus   Christ,   who   will   change   our   lowly   body   to   be   like   His   glorious,   by   the   power   which   enables   him  even  to  subject  all  things  to  Himself.”     ii. This  is  the  power  that  is  made  available  to  us—this  is  the  God  who  calls  us   “friend,”  and  “beloved.”     6. This  great  and  glorious  Jesus  is  the  head  of  his  church,  which  is  his  body,  but  more  than  that   he  is  the  ruler  of  the  creation.  It  has  become  popular  to  emphasize  the  intimacy  of  Jesus— that  he  suffers  with  us,  that  he  loves  us  deeply—and  he  does.  At  the  same  time,  however,   Scripture  also  shows  us  that  this  loving,  caring  Jesus  is  also  the  sovereign  of  all  that  is.  In  the   same  instant  he  can  wipe  away  our  tears  and  hold  the  waves  at  bay.       This  is  the  Jesus  that  I  need—who  loves  me  and  is  powerful  enough  to  save  me.  I  don’t  just   need  someone  to  suffer  with  me,  I  need  someone  who  will  make  the  world  right,  who  will   undo  injustice,  who  will  vanquish  sin,  and  death,  and  all  of  the  consequences  of  the  Fall  in   Genesis—this  is  the  Jesus  that  Paul  prays  to  and  the  Jesus  we  need.    
  9. 9. a. Christ  has  been  raised  from  the  dead  (1:20a)  –  Jesus’  resurrection  is  our  guarantee   of  resurrection  in  the  life  to  come  and  shows  him  to  be  powerful  over  all.     b. Christ  has  been  seated  at  the  right  hand  of  God  the  Father:     i. He  has  all  authority  –       1. Christ   is   beyond   (above)   all   other   powers   both   now   and   forever   (1:21)     2. Christ  is  the  head  of  His  Church   a. Kephale  –  “head,”  “source”     ii. He  has  all  power  –  Christ  has  all  things  under  his  feet  (1:22a)     7. Conclusion   a. Paul  prayed  continually  –  he  centered  his  life  upon  God  and  in  prayer.   b. Paul  gave  thanks  in  prayer   c. Paul  prayed  for  believers  to  grow  in  their  faith  and  love  toward  Christ   d. Paul  prayed  with  specificity   e. Paul  prayed  for  wisdom  and  revelation   f. Paul  was  consumed  with  the  glory  of  God  and  the  Gospel