1) This is what we pray for. Randy loved his rented house very much. After lived in it for 10 years, he learned that the owner needed to sell the house. He prayed God to change the mind of the owner so he and his family may stay in the house where he and his wife had raised their children. But the house was sold. So Randy then prayed for another house in a charming location. A friend in his church offered him a home sits on oceanfront with fresh paint, new wiring, new appliances, new plumbing. Randy said: ¡°Our loving Father led our loving friend to give us more than we asked for.¡± As I reflect on what I have prayed for, they look so much like what Randy did, my needs.
2) This was what Paul prayed for. Contrary to what Randy had prayed for, in most of Paul¡¯s prayers, he prayed for churches, Christians, ministries, the gospel, salvation for the unsaved, character growth, spiritual maturity, harmony between people in churches, etc. just to list a few. He prayed for needs but not his own. He prayed for better condition but not material. He prayed for God¡¯s intervention but not for personal matter or gain. Paul had a much wider scope in his mindset. So when he prayed, he focused on things that were much more, higher, better, lasting and glorious than what we used to pray for. It is nothing wrong to pray for our needs, our daily bread. But in that model prayer of our Lord, He had much more in scope than what we have.
BEGINNING A HIGHER LEVEL PRAYER: (3:14-15)
1) A focus reason: ¡°For this reason¡± (3:14a) ¡°Toutou charin¡± in Greek means ¡°for this specific reason or cause¡±. This prayer is the concluding part of Paul¡¯s teaching on the salvation of the Gentile and the Jewish people in chapter 2-3 in this letter. When Paul began to pray, he had a central purpose or focus in his prayer. Be specific in our prayers is important not to beat on bushes or become so general. We often pray for the whole world, all the lost people, all the missionaries, all their needs. Paul¡¯s reason for his prayer was salvation of the Gentiles and their shared position in God¡¯s kingdom.
2) A proper gesture: ¡°I bend my knees¡± (3:14b) Bending knees or kneeling down in prayer, although it is not a set model, is a sign of being humble, very sincere and reverent. This is also a very important element of an effective prayer. Although the Jews did not bow or kneel when they pray, this gesture symbolizes our complete humility and dependent on the almighty God when we pray. Whatever position you may use when you pray, humility, sincerity, complete surrender should be your attitude.
3) The proper object: ¡°I bend my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of who the whole family in heaven and earth is named.¡± (3:14c-15)In human history, many people prayed to many things from the sun, the moon, mountains, giant trees or rocks. People prayed to the wind, rain, animals, famous people in history, their ancestors and many man-made objects, statues or idols. But Paul prayed to God the most high, the Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. Paul ascribed God as the origin of all things in heaven and on earth. This is not just one of the gods, but the Father, the beginning, the first cause, from who everything and everyone is named or belong. If you are serious about prayer and want the guarantee of real answer, you can¡¯t pray to anyone else but God, the Father.
CONTENT OF A HIGHER LEVEL PRAYER: (3:16-19)
1) Be strengthened in God¡¯s power: ¡°I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with might through his spirit in your inner being.¡± (3:16) The first thing in Paul¡¯s mind when he prayed was the power of God in his followers, strengthening them from the inside. Christians are not exempted from trial, hardship or failure in this world. But we have God¡¯s power inside of us to face the world and whatever may come to us, we are not afraid to face the world. Paul testifies in 2 Corinthians 4:7 ¡°For we have this treasure (God¡¯s power) in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God, not from us.¡± This is a sign of spiritual maturity and the source of victory.
2) Be strengthened by the presence of Christ: ¡°So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.¡± (3:17) The indwelling of the Lord in our hearts is the next request Paul made for Ephesians. To indwell is ¡°to take residence in.¡± This is what Jesus said in John 15:4, ¡°Remain in me and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.¡± Do you want Jesus take residence in your heart? Or you just need him when you are in trouble? We need to remember we cannot face the world all by ourselves and be strong Christians. We need Jesus to live in us so we may face with world without fear.
3) Be strengthened by the love of Christ: ¡°And I pray that you, be rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.¡± (3:17b-18) Throughout history, we all know that the power of love is all surpassing. If human love is so powerful, how much more is the power of Christ¡¯ love in us when we have Christ indwells in our hearts. Besides his death on the cross, most of us don¡¯t understand the immense power of God in us through his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. If we truly know how much, how powerful, how everlasting the love of Christ is, we will conduct our life in very different way.
RESULTS OF AN EFFECTIVE PRAYER: (3:19-21)
1) Filled by the fullness of God: ¡°To know this love that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled the full measure of all the fullness of God.¡± (3:19) What is the measure of the fullness of God? And how do we measure the fullness of God? No one knows exactly how to answer these questions. The only thing we may imagine is ¡°beyond our wildest understanding.¡± Paul was not talking about we will be like God. But he was talking about we will be filled with all the love, riches, power, peace and many aspects of God in us. People in this world try to fill their life and hearts with things of this world: wealth, power, status, romance, fame, control of others, success and glamour. But history proves that none of the above may truly fill the emptiness of man¡¯s heart. God creates man. And man can only feel fully satisfied when he is filled with the fullness of God.
2) Enjoy the abundance of God: ¡°Now unto Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or imagine, according to the power that works in us.¡± (3:20 KJV) God is never stingy in his power, gifts or love to us. He wants to give us the best beyond our imagination. If we pray, wait and obey his command, allow Jesus to take residence in our hearts, we will see and experience the exceedingly abundance of God¡¯s work in our life and tings we do. The super power of God can do all things if we allow Him to do his work through us.
3) Bring all the glory to God: ¡°to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.¡± (3:21) The ultimate result of our prayer, demonstration of His power and all the surpassing knowledge we may have has one purpose and that is to bring glory to God in His church and His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus said that when we remain in him and bear much fruit, then the Father in heaven would receive the glory. (John 15:8) Bringing glory to God the Father was the highest goal in the life of His Son Jesus Christ. We, as disciples of Christ, should also have that same goal of life in our prayer and pursuit.
1) Prayer is a practice: Like physical exercise is important to the body, spiritual exercise is important to the soul and prayer is in the center of this. The amount of time we spend in prayers and the attitude we have in prayer measure our spiritual condition.
2) Prayer is the lifeline: If there is one thing that connects us to the Lord, it is prayer. In prayer, our soul connects to that of the Lord to draw spiritual support for our spiritual growth. Together with Bible study, prayer brings us up close to the Lord.