Saturday, February 21, 2009

Teach Me To Pray, pt.6

Chapter 6:


God wants to hear what burdens us, and we do not need to be afraid to take those burdens to Him. We cast all our cares on the One who cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).

The Objects Of Our Petitions

Prayers of most saints rarely get beyond making petitions for their own and others’ physical needs, when we should be far more concerned about spiritual matters. Paul commands us to pray “for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18), and illustrates praying for others in two prayers recorded in his epistle to the Ephesians. Paul first prayed for the believers’ understanding of their spiritual resources in Christ; then he prayed they would know how to experience God’s power in their lives:

A Petition For An Understanding Of Spiritual Resources – Ephesians 1:15-23
It is vital that all Christians comprehend what their spiritual resources are, but apart from supernatural spiritual insight, even the most intellectual believer can’t grasp the full range of spiritual privilege. In this prayer, Paul is in essence asking God through the Holy Spirit to give the Ephesians wisdom and enlightenment. “Wisdom” refers to the practical application of the truth revealed. Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians and all believers is that they both know the deep truths of salvation and that they appreciate and apply them more and more. To assure that will happen, he wants all to know:

  1. The Greatness Of God’s Plan – Paul’s petition seeks a divine grace from God that has “the eyes of your understanding… enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints” (Ephesians 1:18). Paul wants us especially to apprehend two specific aspects of God’s great plan: the hope of His calling and the riches of His inheritance. It is an immeasurable, incomprehensible blessing for us as believers to know the immense privilege of being in Christ. In fact, all God’s riches are ours because we are part of His plan – that’s why Paul prayed that we would have the joy of that understanding.
  2. The Greatness Of God’s Power – (Ephesians 1:19-20) The apostle prays that we would be energized by God’s mighty power, the same power that created the universe and raised Jesus from the dead (Colossians 2:12).
  3. The Greatness Of God’s Son – (Ephesians 1:21) The Father has elevated the Son far above all other beings… none is equal or superior to Him. As we endeavour to serve the Lord, we need to remember Christ’s divine presence in us (Colossians 1:15-18; 2:9) and His sympathetic understanding of us (Hebrews 4:15).
So Paul prays that fellow Christians apprehend the spirit of wisdom and revelation as they experience the greatness of God’s power and rely on the greatness of His Son – all of which is according to God’s great eternal plan. That is an example of how we should pray for fellow Christians – for their grasp of the glories of redemptive theology.

A Petition For The Release Of God’s Power – Ephesians 3:14-21
This prayer outlines for us five aspects of divine power that are available to all Christians:

  1. Inner Strength – (Ephesians 3:16) All who know Christ need inner strength to cope with the stress and pressures of everyday living, thus Paul prays that the Ephesians “be strengthened with might.” That emphasizes the tremendous spiritual strength available to the believer’s inner person. Such strength comes “through His Spirit,” which simply means believers must be Spirit-filled, living in Spirit awareness, and submitting to the authority of the Holy Spirit in everything they think, say, and do.
  2. The Indwelling Christ – (Ephesians 3:17) Paul’s second petition is that Christ would dwell in Christians’ hearts. But this indwelling cannot happen if sin and disobedience are present. Only when the Lord controls every aspect of our lives can He really be at home in our hearts. Jesus wants to “settle down” in the heart of every believer, and we should pray toward that end, not only for ourselves but also for our fellow Christians.
  3. Incomprehensible Love – (Ephesians 3:17) When we are spiritually strengthened inwardly by the Holy Spirit and Christ indwells us, our lives will radiate the incomprehensible love of the Lord Jesus. Before we can love other people – even other Christians – as we ought, we must not only be rooted and grounded in love, we must comprehend it. In the Greek, “comprehend” means “to seize” something and make it your own. That’s what Paul prays the Ephesians will do – take hold of the love of Christ in all its dimensions.
  4. Infinite Fullness – (Ephesians 3:19) Paul is asking that the Ephesians would possess (as much as possible in the Spirit’s power) the essential, undiminished characteristics of God. We as believers can possess God’s fullness – His essential characteristics. We are thereby able to communicate godly love, wisdom, holiness, and graciousness to the world around us. Christians communicate who God is not only by speaking the Scriptural truth, but also by displaying the essence of His character in their lives.
  5. Immeasurable Power – (Ephesians 3:20) Only when we are aware of our own inadequacies and lack of power will we truly see God’s power at work through us in serving the church and evangelizing the world. This is an awesome blessing to contemplate, and worthy of much prayer for others and ourselves in the Body of Christ.

A Prayer Of John MacArthur:

Our sovereign Lord, we praise you continually for permission to approach Your throne of grace and to spread before You our wants and our desires. We are not worthy of Your blessings, we are not worthy of Your mercies. We have no righteousness of our own. We acknowledge our self-despair. Yet we remember there’s hope in You because the Lamb has taken away our sin. We thank You that we have been drawn to Him, to hear Him, to trust in Him, to delight in Him, and to delight in Your Word and Your law. Preserve our minds from error. Preserve our hearts from the love of idols. Preserve our lips from speaking deceitfully. Preserve our behaviour from stain of sin, our character from any appearance of evil, and may we live as harmless, blameless children of God without rebuke in the world, holding forth the Word of Life that others may see Christ in us and be drawn to Him. These things we ask for His glory and in His name.

Scripture verses mentioned:

Ephesians 6:18 - And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

Ephesians 1:15-23 - For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit[
a] of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

Colossians 1:15-18 - He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.

Colossians 2:9 - For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.

Hebrews 4:15 - For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.

Ephesians 3:14-21 - For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being 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, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

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