How Do You Want God to Answer Your Prayers?
14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
A. Prayer Request
1. How do you pray for this young man?
a) His family treats him very poorly
b) Some in his family actually sell him to human traffickers
c) He is falsely accused and sent to prison
d) He is up for release, but is forgotten in the system and left in prison
2. Be careful how you pray!
a) This young man’s name is Joseph.
b) In our churches and prayer groups today we would spend all of our time trying to pray him out of every situation in his life.
c) All this time God is at work, preparing Joseph to become second only to Pharoah in ruling Egypt.
d) God uses him to save Egypt and all of his family.
e) God uses him for His Kingdom and for His glory, so all the world may see the how the hand of God works throughout all generations, forever and ever!
3. God does far more abundantly than all that we can ask or think!
a) That is the way God answers prayer.
b) So why don’t we ask Him to do His will in the lives of people for whom we pray?
1. In chapter 1 Paul begins to pray
a) Verses 16-17 Paul prays that God will give them a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him
(1) Knowledge here is epiginosko – intensified form of experiential knowledge
(2) The they would give them wisdom and revelation as they learned about God through experiencing Him at work in their lives.
b) Verse 18 – that when these things happen, the eyes of their heart might be enlightened so that they might know
(1) The hope of His calling
(2) The riches of His glory
(3) The surpassing greatness of His power in accordance with the working of His strength and might in their lives
c) Verses 22-23 – The He put all things in subjection under His feet and gave Him as head over all thing to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
2. Then in chapter 2 Paul tells them
a) Verses 8-9 – how they were saved by grace through faith and even that was not of yourselves
b) Verse 10 – For we are His workmanship = “poiema”
(1) Created in Christ Jesus for good works
(2) Which God prepared beforehand
(3) That we should walk in them
3. Then Paul talks about all being part of the same body
a) And that Christ Himself is our peace
b) We are a building with Christ as the cornerstone.
I. The Hidden Mystery
A. Made known to Paul by Revelation
1. When you read this, then you might perceive Paul’s insight into the mystery of Christ.
a) Gentiles are fellow heirs – partakers of the promise of Jesus Christ through the gospel
b) When these Gentiles and the Jewish believers all come together in one body, they make up the Church.
2. That mystery that no one saw in the Old Testament and that even the angels in heaven never saw was the Church, the body of Christ.
a) This time that we live in , this great, rich period of time between the crucifixion and ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ and His coming again in glory and in power, was hidden, a great mystery.
b) Today that time in between, is called by theologians, “the great parenthesis.”
c) We call that time “the day of grace.”
d) We call that time “the age of the church.”
B. God Is Doing a New Thing
1. In that time, God is doing a new thing in and through and for your life.
a) God is doing a thing that the prophets never saw and the angels didn’t know for God made in that period of time a new creation, and He calls it “the body of Christ” [Ephesians 3:6, 4:12].
b) He calls it “the bride of Christ” [Ephesians 5:27].
c) He calls it the church of the Lord Jesus our Savior [Ephesians 5:23].
2. The mystery that was hid in the counsels of God from the beginning of the creation is this thing that we call the church.
a) In the church Jewish people and Gentile people are together as one, members in the body of the Lord Jesus Christ [Romans 11:25-26; Galatians 3:28; Ephesians 3:3-6].
b) Do you really understand what a great and new thing this is in all of creation!?
c) We are a part of something that has never been known before.
3. That is what has been revealed to the Apostle Paul and to us as we are all partakers of the promise of Christ Jesus through the gospel.
a) This is a brand new thing.
b) And God in His manifold wisdom is using your life and my life to help bring about His eternal purposes!
II. Paul’s Prayer
A. What prompted Paul to pray this prayer?
1. Paul has been telling them about all of the glories that they have in Jesus Christ, all of the wonderful things that are in Jesus Christ.
a) Verse 8, he speaks of “the unsearchable riches of Christ.” (Ephesians 3:8)
b) Verse 10, he speaks of a “manifold wisdom of God.” (Ephesians 3:10)
c) Verse 11, he speaks of “the eternal purpose” of God. (Ephesians 3:11)
2. Think of it
a) unsearchable riches
b) manifold wisdom
c) eternal purpose
3. Paul is just so caught up with how God is doing this thing in our lives.
a) Paul knows that the Ephesians are saved, but Paul is afraid that they’re going to go to heaven second-class.
b) He’s afraid that they’re not going to discover their destiny in God’s eternal purposes.
c) He’s afraid that they’re not going to understand all of the glorious, wonderful, holy, happy, miraculous things that belong to the people of God.
d) So Paul is praying for the Ephesians that God would open their spiritual eyes, that they might discover their destiny.
4. I pray over and over for God to let people see His hand at work in their lives – this is the same thing that Paul is asking for the Ephesians.
a) When God opens your spiritual eyes so that you can see what He is doing in your life, it changes everything about what is happening in your life!
b) We really need to pray for each other that way every day.
c) I do not believe that you and I realize how important this kind of prayer is.
B. What Paul Prays
1. That the Manifold Wisdom of God Might Be Made Known
a) God’s eternal purpose might be realized in Christ Jesus
b) God wants to do that through your life and my life!
c) Do you see that with your spiritual eyes!
d) Do you see that when you see God’s hand at work in your life?
2. That they might not lose heart
a) If we know by experience the manifold wisdom of God
b) If we know God’s eternal purpose
c) Then when we pray and we know by faith that God is doing something far more abundantly than all we can ask or think, then we will not lose heart!
3. That He may grant you to be strengthened with power through the Holy Spirit in your being
a) I also pray for God’s comfort for you when you are going through a trial.
b) Do you really understand what that is?
c) Comfort is from the Latin for “with strength” or “with power” = “com fortis”
d) That He may grant you to be strengthened with power through the Holy Spirit in your being
e) You need to power of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, the Paraclete, to strengthen you so you can endure what is going on in your life.
f) When I pray for God’s comfort, I am asking Him to strengthen you with the power of the Holy Spirit.
4. That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith
a) Jesus is the Prince of Peace, so when I pray for your peace I am asking God that Christ might dwell in your heart and motivate all of your actions and responses with His peace.
b) Paul is not praying that they’ll be saved – They were already saved.
(1) He’s not praying that Christ would come into their hearts – He was already in their hearts.
(2) He’s asking that Christ might dwell in their hearts – dwell implies of a fixed control of one who not only has moved in, but one who is the undisputed owner of a piece of property.
c) Paul is asking God to make Christ sovereign in their lives.
(1) This is like Jesus saying, “If you abide in me, and my word abides in you, you shall ask what you will, and it shall be done unto you.” (John 15:7)
(2) Have you said, “Lord Jesus, I take myself off the throne; I enthrone you completely; I want your presence to be made manifest in my heart and in my life”?
5. That you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have the strength to comprehend the breadth, length, height, and depth of the love of Christ
a) God wants you to know how broadly His love spreads – that you might know the breadth of God’s love!
(1) What is the breadth of God’s love?
(2) God loves all of us! Isn’t that great? “For God so loved the world”: (John 3:16)
(3) All colors no matter what the circumstances, or character, nationality – He loves us all.
(4) “God so loved the world”: that is the breadth of God’s love.
(5) A sinner may go to hell unsaved, but he’ll never go to hell unloved.
(6) God loves you! That’s the breadth of God’s love.
b) God wants you to understand the length of His love, the duration of God’s love.
(1) God’s love is an everlasting love, never-ending love.
(2) He loves and He loves and He loves and He loves.
(3) “God is love,” (1 John 4:8) and He can never stop loving.
(4) God loved us, even “before the foundation of the world,”
c) How deep is God’s love?
(1) No person ever gets so unlovely that God can not love him.
(2) No person is so low, so depraved, so vile that God does not love him.
(3) God’s love reaches to the deepest sinner and calls him to receive Christ’s love.
d) The height of God’s love started in heaven, and it goes to heaven, and it lifts us to the heavens.
(1) God’s love lifts us from the deepest pits all the way to heaven.
(2) His love enables us to return to the source of His love – heaven.
(3) Paul is saying, “O people, people! I want your eyes to be opened, that you might discover the power of the Holy Spirit, that you might enthrone the Lord Jesus Christ, and that you might be able to know the unknowable, to see the unseeable, to comprehend the incomprehensible, to measure the immeasurable, which is the love of Jesus Christ.”
(4) That is what Paul is praying for the Ephesians and it is how we should be praying for each other!
6. That you may be filled with all the fullness of God
III. What Happens When God Works through Prayer
A. We are filled with all the fullness of God
1. Power through the Holy Spirit in you – His Comforter
2. Christ dwelling in you – His Prince of Peace
3. Comprehending all the dimensions of His love
4. Know by experiencing the love of Christ in a way that surpasses knowledge.
B. Let God Work Through Your Prayers
1. His power is at work in you and through you and for you
2. How do you see God when you pray?
a) Now unto Him that is able to do all
(1) You might know and believe that He can do all, so you try to tell Him what to do.
b) Now unto Him that is above all
(1) You might know and believe that He is above all and able to do all, so you try to ask Him to intervene in your request to change what others do for your purposes.
c) Now unto Him that is abundantly above all
(1) You might know and believe that He is abundantly above all and able to do all, so you ask Him to take a look at what is going on and fix it for you.
d) Now unto Him that is exceeding abundantly above all
(1) If you know through experience the power He has and the dimensions of His love for you and that He has eternal purposes and that you want to see the manifold wisdom of God play out in your life and you know by experience and believe that He is able to do far more abundantly than all we can ask or think, then you will not lose heart in praying, Lord, not my will, but yours be done!
3. Back to Ephesians 2 again:
a) Verses 8-9 – how they were saved by grace through faith and we had nothing to do with it because if we did, then we would boast about it.
b) Verse 10 – For we are His workmanship
(1) Created in Christ Jesus for good works
(2) Those good works God prepared beforehand and He wants very much to show His eternal purposes and His manifold wisdom in and through the circumstances of our lives.
(3) What we need to do is “that we should walk in them”, by faith, trusting God to know what is the best for His glory in and through our lives.
C. The Result
1. God receives the Glory
a) Everyone sees His glory in the Church
b) Everyone sees His glory in Christ Jesus
c) Everyone sees His glory throughout all generations
d) Everyone seed His glory forever and ever!