Central Baptist Church
Saturday, August 15, 2020

Evening Worship Sermon



Ephesians 3:14-21


The Church is strengthened as we pray.


          For many people prayer is something you do when they need something specific or concrete for themselves.
          Ill. -  Fire alarm box
               -   In case of emergency, break glass and pull handle
               -   When all else fails, pray!
          Our text is the great prayer of Paul for the Church and believers.
It is probably the 3rd most important prayer in all the Bible, ranking behind the Model Prayer - Matthew 6:9-13 and Prayer of our Lord -  John 17.
          As a Church, we need one another, and we support one another through prayer.  The Apostle Paul was a prayer-warrior.  He prayed for the Churches he established:
Ephesians 1:16 "Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;"
Philippians 1:4 "Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy,"
          Paul encouraged other Christians to pray for him and other needs in their locale :
Philippians 4:6 "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God."
          He urged them to pray regularly :
I Thessalonians 5:17 "Pray without ceasing."
          One of Paul's most famous and most familiar prayers is found in II Corinthians 12:7-10.  This is where he prays requesting deliverance from the thorn in his flesh.  God did not remove the thorn, but Paul learned a great lesson of relying on God's power in his struggles :
II Corinthians 12:7-10 "And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above  measure. 8  For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 9  And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong."
          Some things we do just work out better when we do them as part of a group.
          Which hobby or pastime do you prefer to be a part of a team or a group?
          When Andy was in school, he was a runner.  I decided one day that I was going to run with him.  Now he had been running on a daily basis and I was about 40 years old and my longest jog was from the recliner to the table and back.
          After my first run I fell in the kitchen door about to die (Ginnie wanted to call an ambulance).  After that first run I was ready to quit but Andy encouraged me and before my knee got bad we had worked up to 40 miles a week (5 miles a day Monday-Friday and 15 miles on Saturday).
          Had I have been alone with no encouragement I'm sure I would have quit after the first run, but Andy supported me and encouraged me and there is strength in numbers.
          We experience something special when we pray with one another and for one another.
          Let's look at our text :
Ephesians 3:14-17a "For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15  Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16  That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; 17  That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith;..."
          Let's note four things about this prayer :
1.  The prayer was for a specific cause and purpose.
          Paul is referring back to the great salvation and the birth of the Church which God had wrought through Christ.
          No greater thing has ever been wrought on earth than what God has done through Christ.
2.  Prayer was so important that it drove Paul to his knees.
          Bowing is a sign of desperate need and dependency.
Luke 18:10-14 "Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11  The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12  I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13  And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14  I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted."
3.  Prayer addresses God as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
          In Christ Jesus we see that God is near and that He is vitally interested in man and his world :
John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
          Paul was praying to the God who would listen and answer his prayers.
          He was not praying to some lifeless concept.
          He was praying to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who was the only living and true God.
4.  The prayer was also addressed to the Father of the whole family of God.
          God is the Father of all believers who have ever believed and trusted His promise, both past and present.
          How do you typically approach the discipline of praying for others?
          We must pray for spiritual needs, not just physical.
          The believer needs to be strengthened with power in the inner man, that is the deepest part of his being, in his soul, heart, and spirit, it is there that he must be strengthened with power.  This is the only way he can overcome the flesh with all it's weaknesses.
          This is the only way the believer can ever lay hold to all the blessings of God and fulfill God's eternal purpose for his life.
          Our secret as Christians is that we have an inner man, and when that inner man has been strengthened by the Holy Spirit, what happens round and about us and even to the outward man himself is unimportant.
          May God give us assurance of the possession of the inner man, the spiritual man, the new man in Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 3:17b-19 "....that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18  May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19  And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God."
          Paul prays for Christ to dwell, rule, and reign in our hearts, by faith.
          That we be rooted and grounded in love - the very agape love of God that He has for us.
          Then he prays for understanding of all spiritual things.

          God has done so much for us that it cannot be measured thus we must pray for understanding.
          The more we understand what god has done for us, the more we will take the love of God to a world reeling under the plight of evil, poverty, and death.
          Paul wants us to know the love of God which surpasses all knowledge.  We may never know the full scope of the love of God in this life but we should pray for God to help us learn more and more of His love and we should make this request every day.
          What have you found to be true about God's love?
          Pray that our brothers and sisters would :
          -  constantly remember that it was God's love that saved them, and it is God's love that sustains them.
          -  grow in understanding the full measure of God's love and character.
          -  be astounded by the sacrificial love of Jesus on the Cross.
Ephesians 3:20-21 "Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21  Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen."
          Paul finished his prayer with climactic words of worship of God.
          God is able to do what we ask.
          "exceedingly" -  To go beyond any request, to overcome and do anything.
          "abundantly" -  To do more than enough.
          "above" -  Beyond any need.
          "all that we ask or think" -  Imagine going beyond anything we can think!
          By finishing his prayer with these words, Paul presented the ultimate purpose of our praying together and everything else we do.
          That prayer is the glory of God.