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Prayer for the Church

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A Prayer for the Church

Ephesians 3:14-21

Theme: We pray that God will empower us to grow in faith, love, and power for His purposes.

Introduction: The Impossible Dream

A.   “The Impossible Dream” Song

1.    How many know this song?

2.    Anyone know from where it comes?  The Man of La Mancha

3.    Who is the man of La Mancha? Don Quixote

a.    In the book by Cervantes as a deceived and maybe deranged man

b.    He sets before himself imaginary quests as a knight

c.    His dream is impossible, and he ends up disillusioned

d.    Yet Cervantes presents him as a hero

(1)  One who seeks more

(2)  One who wants to change was is

4.    The song has become a statement of the human quest

B.   The Apostle Paul presents the human quest in a different, but strangely parallel way

1.    Paul, too, longs for those who will see the world differently, those who will challenge the powers of the world

a.    But it does not start with the human quest

b.    It starts with a prayer

2.    As we begin a new school year that brings with it new beginnings at church, in family, often at work, we begin with this prayer of Paul in Ephesians 3:14-21

I.      The Immense Picture (v. 14-15)

A.   Its Purpose—Why

1.    Paul announces his prayer on the basis of an immense picture

2.    “For this reason” refers to Paul’s vision of what God is doing in Jesus

a.    God is making a new world, a new humanity

b.    God is bring peace to all

c.    God is making the world a place where he can dwell again

3.    Only God can do this

a.    It cannot come by human effort

(1)  The Emperor had claimed to be the head of all humanity

(2)  But Paul says that only God can make this claim

b.    It only comes by God’s grace

c.    Thus we kneel before God in prayer


 

B.   Its Position—How

1.    Kneeling in prayer was unusual.  They stood in prayer

2.    But his Gentile audience understood kneeling

a.    They is what one did before those of power

b.    It was a sign of submission and humility

c.    It was the position of entreaty, or asking for unmerited help

3.    Paul’s position before power sets up his prayer for power

II.             The Impossible Petition (v. 16-19)

A.   Growth in Faith

1.    Paul prays for growth in faith

a.    Growth in believing that God is with us in Christ

b.    Growth in believing that God empowers us by His Spirit

2.    This faith can only come by God’s gift

3.    On our own we doubt, we fail, we fall

a.    On our own we see only the earthly powers against us

b.    On our own we cannot see God at work

4.    We pray that God will help us see His work, trust His power, rest in His presence

B.   Grasping Love

1.    Even more Paul prays that we will grasp God’s love

2.    Love so immense that it cannot be fully grasped

a.    It is like trying to get your arms around the whole universe

b.    It is like naming the biggest number

3.    Paul prays that the love of God may go beyond our minds to encompass us

4.    Paul wants us to not only know God, but to experience the presence, the power, the love of God

5.    This is why we pray

a.    We do not pray to give God a list of things we want

b.    We pray to come into God’s presence

c.    We pray to rest in God’s immense love

6.    It is an impossible petition which only God can make possible

III.           The Immeasurable Purpose (3:20-21)

A.   The Improbable Partnership

1.    But this is not just for our pleasure; this is for God’s immeasurable purpose

2.    God’s purpose is to create a partnership with us

a.    God wants His power to work in us and through us

b.    This is an improbable partnership, but one God purposed from the beginning of creation

3.    God is at work in us and through us to develop and restore His world

B.   The Important Purpose

1.    In all this the important purpose is that God is known as God

a.    That we worship God for His power, but even more for his grace and love

b.    That the church be a place of God’s grace and love, not of earthly power and politics

2.    God’s purpose in Christ Jesus and in His church is to show Himself as a God powerful in giving and forgiving

Conclusion: A Prayer for the Quest

A.   Many of us are beginning new quests

1.    There are new challenges in school, at church, at work, in life

2.    In all the work it is easy to lose the vision

a.    It is easy to fight the wrong fights in the wrong ways

1)    To tilt against windmills

2)    To be crushed by the powers of the world

b.    It is easy to become disillusioned

C.   For it all to be part of God’s purposes we need to pray

1.    For this reason, I invite you, if you are able, to kneel before the Father

2.    I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.

a.    Reflect on your faith

b.    Ask God to strengthen you

c.    Picture yourself in the presence of God

3.    And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

a.    Hear and believe that you are loved by God immeasurably

b.    Hear and believe that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord

c.      Picture yourself being embraced by God’s love

4.     Now join in the praise and purposes of God

a.      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, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

b.      God is at work within us

c.    God is changing the world through us

5.    Now please join in the Lord’s Prayer…

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