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PAULS PATTERN OF PRAYER
Intro: I hope that everyone in this room is a person of prayer. I hope that you take the time daily to bow at the feet of the Lord and call on His name. If you dont do that, you should really examine your life and make prayer the priority it should be.
If you are a praying person, you know the difficulties associated with prayer. The flesh hates to pray! Not only that, but the mind is easily distracted during prayer. Have you ever stopped to pray and started off well enough, only to have your mind get sidetracked? Have you ever found yourself thinking about matters that are not even remotely connected with your prayers? If you have, welcome to the human race. We are a short-minded people who are easily distracted.
It seems Paul had this issue as well. He started to pray back in verse 1, and then he became sidetracked and spent the next twelve verses describing the mystery of the church. Just for the record, Paul was not distracted by any fleshly motives. His mind did not lead him down some primrose path. The Holy Spirit distracted Paul. He was so overwhelmed by the truth that he had been given that he spent some time both exalting and exulting in the revelation of the mystery of the church.
In the verses before us, Paul returns to the matter of prayer. This chapter has shown us various facets of the life of the Apostle Paul. We have discovered Paul The Prisoner in verse 1. We looked at Paul The Pioneer in verses 2-6. We considered Paul The Preacher in verses 7-13. Today, we will begin to examine Paul The Prayer Warrior.
I want to talk to you about how Paul prayed for the people in Ephesus, and by extension, how he prayed for you. As we study Paul The Prayer Warrior, I want you to see the petitions Paul makes for the church. I want you to see the lessons Paul teaches us about prayer in this passage. Let Pauls prayer encourage you, because it is a prayer that has been answered. Let Pauls prayer influence you, because it is how the Lord intends for us to pray for others. Notice the lessons taught here as we examine Pauls Pattern In Prayer.
As Paul begins his prayer for the saints, he says for this cause. The word cause means, reason, or from the pleasure of. Paul is speaking of the revelation he has just shared with the church. He is referring to the great truths revealed all the way from Eph. 1:1 to 3:13.
That great, doctrinal passage is filled with astounding truth.
· From the fact that God has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Heavenly places in Christ, 1:3, to the truth that He has made us fellow heirs along with the Jews in the body of Christ, the church, 3:6.
· In between those verses are the facts that God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world, 1:4.
· He reached out to us when we were dead in trespasses and sins, 2:1.
· He loved us in spite of our depravity and our wickedness, 2:2-4.
· He saved us by His grace, and made us His children, 2:5-10.
· He reached out to us, who separated from Him by our sins, 2:12-17.
· He saved us and He adopted us into His family, and made us a part of the body of Christ. That is reason enough to praise Him for all eternity! All I can say is, Hallelujah! Blessed be the name of the Lord!
When we stop to consider everything the Lord has done for us to save us and to change our lives, it should motivate us to go to Him in prayer. If God loved us so much that He sent His Son to die for our sins, then saved us by His grace and adopted us into His family, we should have a desire to spend time with a God like that. Our love for the Lord ought to manifest itself in a passionate desire to come into the presence of the Lord to spend time with Him in prayer. Our passion for Him should drive us to Him.
· Prayer Is A Command
Luke 18:1, And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint.
1 Thes. 5:17, Prayer without ceasing.
· Prayer Is A Duty
1 Tim. 2:1-4, I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
· Prayer Is A Gift
Heb. 4:15-16, For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
· Prayer Is A Privilege
Phil. 4:6-7, Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
· Prayer Is A Promise
Jer. 33:3, Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.
Isa. 65:24, And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.
John 16:23, And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.
We must prayer a priority in our lives. We have much to pray about, and we have a God Who invites us to come to Him in prayer. We should humble ourselves before the Lord and ask Him to help us make prayer a passion in our lives.
I. Pauls Passion In His Prayer
When Paul considered these things, the power of them literally brought him to his knees. He says, for this cause, I bow me knees. Bowing the knees to pray is common for us, but for a man of Pauls heritage, it would have been quite uncommon. Typically, the Jews would stand when the prayed. Their arms slightly raised, with the palms turned toward Heaven. If you have ever seen images of the Jews praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, you know what I cam talking about.
To bow in prayer in that day was very uncommon. The Bible records several postures for prayer in the Word of God.
· Abraham stood - Gen. 18:22b-23, but Abraham stood yet before the LORD. And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?
· David sat - 1 Chron. 17:16, And David the king came and sat before the LORD, and said, Who am I, O LORD God, and what is mine house, that thou hast brought me hitherto?
· Jesus stretched out - Matt. 26:39, And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.
It was usually done in periods of extreme humility or extreme distress. For instance:
· Ezra knelt when he confessed the sins of the people - Ezra 9:5-6.
· Daniel knelt when he learned that King Darius had signed into law the prohibition on prayer - Dan. 6:10.
· Paul knelt with the elders from Ephesus before he departed - Acts 20:36.
· Solomon kelt before he Lord at the dedication of the Temple - 2 Chron. 6:13-14.
Kneeling in prayer shows two truths.
1. It is a sign of submission to One Who is being far greater than we are. When we bow before the Lord we are acknowledging His glory, His power and His authority over our lives. We bow in prayer before HIm because we understand that we are in the presence of One Who is far higher in rank, dignity, glory and authority that we are. Bowing before the Lord in prayer is a sign of humility and submission before the Lord.
2. It is a sign of intense passion and emotion. In the passages I shared a moment ago, we can see the emotion and the passion that drove the individuals to pray. In other words, sometimes you are so overwhelmed by the circumstances and needs of life that kneeling becomes the natural posture one adopts before the Lord.
Having said all that let me say this. God is not concerned about the posture of your body. I do not think the Lord cares whether you pray kneeling, sitting, standing, lying down, walking, or whatever. God is more concerned about the posture of the heart. Whether we kneel physically or not, we should always be kneeling before Him in our hearts as we acknowledge His glory, His greatness and His wonder. So, regardless of the posture of the body, just be sure you come before the Lord in prayer on a regular basis.
When Paul thought about the great truths that had been revealed to Him, he was brought to his knees in prayer and worship before the Lord. What a blessing it is when the Word of God stirs our hearts to worship! People get excited when they hear certain songs and certain kinds of music. Those things can move people to worship and to praise the Lord. Ask yourself this, how long has it been since the Word of God has driven you to your knees? How long has it been since you have been so overwhelmed by truth that you fell to your knees to worship the Lord Who sent that truth to your heart? How ling has it been since you read the Word of God and have become over come with awe truths God revealed to your heart? It should not be a rare thing, but it should be a common occurrence!
Do not worry so much about the position of your body; be more concerned about the posture of your heart. May the Word of God, the might works of God, and the glorious wonder of God cause us to humble ourselves before Him in humble prayer.
I. Pauls Passion In His Prayer
II. Pauls Posture In His Prayer
As Paul begins to pray he tells us that his purpose in this prayer is both to glorify the Father and to edify the church. Paul takes a moment at the beginning of His prayer to remind us again of just who we are in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul says that he bows his knees before the Father. The word translated Father is the word Pater. It speaks of the generator, or the male ancestor of a family line. This word pictures God as the One Who started a new family through His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. The word family translates the word patria, which means, all those who in a given people lay claim to a common origin; those who share a common lineage or ancestry. This passage reminds us that all those who are in Jesus Christ are in the same family and we share a common Father.
The myth that has been adopted by the lost and the liberal that there is a common fatherhood of God and that all people are the children of God is something that the Bible simply does not teach.
The Bible is clear when it teaches us that there are two lines of humanity. There are only two spiritual fatherhoods, and every person in the world comes from one lineage or the other.
· One group is the children of Satan. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it, John 8:44.
· The other group is the children of God. Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure, 1 John 3:1-3.
· There is an easy way to tell which family you belong to. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother, 1 John 3:10.
If you are in the family, you are the subject of Pauls prayer, which follows, in the next verses. If you are in the family of God, you share some very precious common blessings with the rest of the family.
· Our family can be found in two places at the same time. Paul mentions the whole family in heaven and earth. Part of our family is here, and part of our family is here. The church militant is living in this world today; the church triumphant is already home with the Lord in Heaven waiting for the rest of us to catch up.
· Our family shares a common name. God is our Father and we have all been adopted into the same family. Regardless of where we started this life, and regardless of what our human lineage might be, if we are saved, we are the children of God, and we have been adopted into His family. Ill. Rom. 8:15-17; Eph. 1:5; 1 John 3:2. Whether we are here or there, we are His!
· Our family shares a common redemption. We are one people, all washed in the precious blood of Jesus, Rev. 7:13-14. Whether we are here or there, the blood has redeemed us.
· Our family shares a common love. Whether we are in Heaven or on earth, we can rest in the truth that the Lord loves His children equally. Ill. 2 Tim. 2:19. He does not love them or know them any better us because they are in Heaven. He knows us all and he loves us all equally. He has shared His love with is, Rom. 5:5. Our love for one another is the absolute proof that we are His children, John 13:35.
· Our family shares a common nature. Those who are in Heaven have laid down their bodies; those of us who are still here will join them in Heaven one day. Whether we are here or there, we share everlasting life in the Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Cor. 15:49-57.
· Our family shares a common worship. The saints in Heaven are praising the Lord. The saints on the earth praise Him too. The Lord Jesus is the common fascination of the church, both those who are here, and those who are there, Rev. 4-5.
· Our family shares a common body. The body of Christ is one body, and it is complete, Rom. 12:4-5. Neither time nor death can destroy the body of Christ. God chose the body in eternity past, and it will eventually all be with Him in Heaven some day. Right now, part of the body is on earth, part of the body is in Heaven, and part of the body has yet to be born physically or spiritually. One day, the body of Christ will be together in Heaven forever.
· Our family is one in service. The body on earth and the body in Heaven have one common goal, and that is service to the Lord. The body in Heaven serves Him, Rev. 22:8-9. The body on earth serves Him too, Eph. 6:6.
· Our family is one in joy. There is joy in Heaven over the grace of God, Luke 15:7, 10. There is joy on the earth over the grace of God.
· Out family has a common destiny. As I said, part of the family is in Heaven, and part of the family is on earth. One day, the whole family will be together in the presence of the Lord and there will worship Him with one voice throughout eternity. One day, the whole family will be home, and what a day that will be!
Conc: Prayer is extremely important. Let me close with a story about the power of prayer in the life of a church. Dr. J. Wilbur Chapman was called, as a young man, to become pastor of a large church in Philadelphia.
After his first sermon, an old gentleman said to him, You're pretty young to be pastor of this church. But you preach the Gospel, and I'm going to help you all I can.
Dr. Chapman thought, Here's a crank.
But the man continued: Im going to pray for you that you may have the Holy Spirit's power upon you. Two others have covenanted to join with me in prayer for you.
Dr. Chapman said, I didn't feel so bad when I learned he was going to pray for me. The 3 became 10, the 10 became 20, and 20 became 50, the 50 became 200 who met before every service to pray that the Holy Spirit might come upon me. I always went into my pulpit feeling that I would have the anointing in answer to the prayers of those who had faithfully prayed for me. It was a joy to preach! The result was that we received 1,100 into our church by conversion in three years, 600 of whom were men. It was the fruit of the Holy spirit in answer to prayer!
I sure am glad the Lord moved on Pauls heart to pray for us, arent you? I pray that He will place the same burden on our own hearts.
I wonder if this passage has spoken to your heart on any level.
· Is your prayer life everything it should be? Do you spend time talking to the Lord on a regular basis? Is there room for improvement, or are you motivated by an intense passion to linger in the presence of the Lord.
· Maybe you are thankful for what you have in the Lord, and you would like to come before Him to say thank you. You should do that today.
· Perhaps you would like to come and pray for the family of God. Some of our brothers and sisters are struggling. They need our prayers today. The church needs our prayers today.
· Maybe you are not saved. Now would be a great time for you to come to Jesus. If He is calling you come!