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3:16.4 Pray.. for each other! Eph 3:16, part 2
Since the book of Ephesians was a letter that Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus, we are actually reading someone else’s mail! It’s like we pried open our neighbor’s mailbox, then opened and read the letters we found there. Or to bring it into the current vernacular, it's like we hacked into somebody’s email account.
But because this is one of the letters that was preserved for us as a part of the New Testament, the assumption, the understanding, is that there is a message here for each of us, for anyone who will read Paul's epistle to the Ephesians. This means that the prayer Paul prayed for the people in the Church in Ephesus, he also prayed for you and me - even though a little over 2000 years separates us from him.
When I started looking at the words of this prayer, I discovered that it isn’t just a “Bless them,” kind of prayer. It is a multi-layered prayer, and each layer leads to the next one and depends on the one before. And while it might be “Paul’s prayer," he is simply praying that God’s purpose will be fulfilled in the lives of the people of the church in Ephesus - and, truly, in our lives as well. Paul is praying, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that Christians will become and be all they should be, and all they could be, according to God’s plans and purposes for their lives.
So let’s dive in and see where it takes us.
Paul begins this section of his letter with these words, Ephesians 3:14 “When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father…” Let’s start there, and think, just for a moment, about the posture of prayer.
The Posture of the Prayer
It can become very easy to jump to the assumption with a statement such as Paul’s here – we can find ourselves saying, “Well, it’s obvious, that the only proper way to pray is to kneel down.”
But, I believe, that is a little simplistic. Paul isn’t saying that he always kneels to pray, although that is certainly true in this case. But here, he says that he falls to his knees for a reason. So what was the reason? Well, the verse starts by saying “When I think of all of this,” so next question has to be, “What was he thinking about?”
It seems to be the theme of the book, at least this chapter. Paul used this phrase in up in the first verse of the Chapter; and then goes off on a bit of a tangent, but now he’s back. The world at that time, truthfully, it was a mess. The Roman Empire was dissolving into political and moral decay. Pastor, Bible Commentator and Author, William Barclay, writes this, about the world of the Ephesians, “This world is a disintegrated chaos; there is division everywhere, between nation and nation, between man and man, within a man's inner life.”
And Paul, he sees the solution to the problems of the world as being in Christ. And there are those today, who see the same problems of the world and the same solution, but for whatever reason, they seek to politicize the message and try to legislate the behavior. I can tell you, that has never worked, and it never will.
Interestingly, Paul’s prayer wasn’t that the culture would become Christianized: his prayer was that the church would reflect the true nature of Christ and that through that, the world would be transformed. And that Holy Spirit given, passion, drove Paul to his knees. Scholars tell us, that the normal posture for prayer 2000 years ago, for the Jews, was to stand with their arms outstretched and their palms open to heaven. But the Spirit given passion, in Paul was so deep and the burden was so great that he finds himself not just kneeling, but, often prostrate in prayer.
Friends, the truth is, there is nothing in the Bible that would give us a definite direction as to the posture of our prayers. What we do know is that we are expected and encouraged to pray, and Jesus said, “…and not give up.”
In Matthew 6 when Jesus taught the disciples to pray, He said nothing about the posture they were to assume, but, there are times in the Bible, both in the Old Testament as well as in the New Testament, that people were driven to their knees in a sense of desperation and urgency. And there has been times in my life that praying, standing or sitting, just doesn’t seem enough and I find myself on my knees or lying flat out on my face.
Let’s keep going, Ephesians 3:14-15“When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth.”
The Person of the Prayer
Paul is directing his prayers to the Father and throughout the book of Ephesians Paul speaks of the Father and he almost develops a complete theology of Father God.
Medication: A Merry Heart
THE BEST WAY TO PRAY (Might have used this one before, but it fits with today’s devotional.)
A priest, a minister and a guru sat discussing the best positions for prayer, while a telephone repairman worked nearby.
“Kneeling is definitely the best way to pray,” the priest said.
“No,” said the minister. “I get the best results standing with my hands outstretched to Heaven.”
“You’re both wrong,” the guru said. “The most effective prayer position is lying down on the floor.”
The repairman could contain himself no longer: “Hey, fellas,” he interrupted. “The best prayin’ I ever did was when I was hangin’ upside down from a telephone pole.”
St Mark’s Community Church, Janesville
New Beginnings Church, New Ulm
Verse of the Week: Luke 4:18-19
Today’s readings: Psalms 25, 29, 33, 36 & 39