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3:16.4 Pray for Each Other - Ephesians 3:16 part 3
There is no doubt to whom Paul is praying. In Ephesians 1:17 “… asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God.” We are told He is the Father of Jesus, but more than that we are told He is the Father of all, in Ephesians 4:5-6, we are told, “There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all.”
And then we discover that He, God, is the creator of everything. Look again at 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.”
And Paul tells us in Ephesian 3:12 that because we have come into relationship with God through faith and trust in Jesus, we have access to the Father. Look at Ephesians 3:12, “Because of Christ and our faith in Him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.” It is through that access that the Father desires to give us; all the wisdom needed to grow in our Christian walk. Ephesians 1:17 “… asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God.”
And through of all this we are told that (Ephesians 5:20) “And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” I’m suddenly thinking, there might be a Father’s Day message here. But… Moving along, we read in this week’s 3:16, Ephesians 3:16 “I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit.” It’s right there that we discover the progress of prayer.
The Progress of the Prayer
As I mentioned earlier, while this is one prayer, it has a number of layers or levels, and they don’t stand alone. You can’t take number 3, without first having numbers 1 and 2 and an expectation that you will move on to number 4.
Paul is praying for the Ephesians, for all who would read this letter, including us, to become more mature in Christ. And really, that is a theme that occurs in all of the letters that Paul writes. There is never an expectation that the Christian will be born again and instantly be a mature Christian. And at the same time, there is not the expectation that the new Christian will never move beyond, the point of their salvation.
So let’s begin where Paul begins, Ephesians 3:16 “I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit.” The first thing that Paul asks for, for the people of this church, for us too, is that Father God would empower believers with an “Inner Strength.” The first thing that Paul acknowledges is that we don’t have what it takes, on our own to, be the follower that Christ desires us to be.
Notice with me that Paul doesn’t begin by asking that God will empower us, with the things on our list. You know, the things that we believe will give us power, extraordinary human strength or human beauty, political clout, or financial resources. Instead, Paul asks that God will give us inner strength, a fortitude, and more specifically a fortitude that comes through the Holy Spirit.
Sometimes I think our philosophy of Christian growth and character comes from a book, and not The Book. Too often we take our cues from “The Little Engine That Could,” and our mantra is… yep, say it with me… “I think I can, I think I can.”
Just a quick aside here: it was Les Brown who said, “You’ll never be like The Little Engine That Could if you sit around on your caboose.” And while that might be a great philosophy for life, a career and education, and I believe that we can do so much more then we think we can and are told we can, I don’t think, in fact I am positive, that we cannot be all that God intends for us to be as Christians, simply because we think we can.
When Jesus told the Apostles that He would be leaving them, they went into panic mode, but then He tells them that, in His place, He is going to be sending the Comforter, the Holy Spirit. And from then on, in the Bible, we are told that the Spirit will empower us, and strengthen us, and give us the words we need to speak, and teach us, and guide us, and so, so much more. It’s from the Spirit that we receive our spiritual gifts and it is the Spirit, who produces, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in our lives.
It’s interesting, as pastor, I’m often asked to pray for people, and the majority of those prayers are for outward strength, physical healing. I don’t mean to take away from that because the truth is the Bible tell and encourages us to ask for prayer for healing, but very, very seldom am I asked to pray for someone’s inner strength or character.
Medication: A Merry Heart
A young executive was leaving the office late one evening when he found the CEO standing in front of a shredder with a piece of paper in his hand.
“Listen,” said the CEO, “this is a very sensitive and important document here, and my secretary has gone for the night. Can you make this thing work?”
“Certainly,” said the young executive. He turned the machine on, inserted the paper, and pressed the start button.
“Excellent, excellent!” said the CEO as his paper disappeared inside the machine. “I just need one copy.”
St Mark’s Community Church, Janesville
New Beginnings Church, New Ulm
Verse of the Week: Luke 4:18-19
Today’s readings: 2 Samuel 8 – 9 & 1 Chronicles 18