Let's continue with the closing of the prayer in Ephesians 3 with verses 20 and 21. Paul's ending words of his prayer for the Ephesians is an ode to God, "Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen" (NRSV). It sounds familiar because it is Paul's example we are following when we end prayers with something like, "To God be the glory forever and ever. Amen."
But let's take a look at that first verse. God is able to accomplish more than we can ask or imagine by his power within us. He has placed his power within us. Do we believe that? It is the word of God. Do we believe that God has placed his power within us? If not, why not? Supposedly it can do more than we can ask or even imagine. The verse carries through Paul's previous prayer that we are strengthened in our inner being with God's power through the Holy Spirit. It seems to me that if we accept this as the word of God then we accept it as being true. We are strengthened by the power of God to accomplish more than we can ask or imagine.
It implies that what we imagine limits us. We don't ask for enough. We are letting the power that raised Christ from the dead go to waste. I imagine that what each of us can do is different from the other. We are one body, one spirit in one Lord, one faith, one baptism (Eph 4:4-5). The parts of the body are made to do different things, but all work together. We all have a part to play.
Let's not let the power of God go to waste. Dream. Imagine. Ask.
To God be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
#Paul #Paul's Prayers #Prayer #Ephesians
We have spent time already looking at Ephesians 1:16-19 and 3:15-16. Let us continue with 3:17-19 which states "that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God" (NRSV).
Whew! What a mouthful. Paul loves those run-on sentences. He gets so excited with what he is praying that he can't stop. His infectious joy overflows at the inclusion of Gentiles in the body of Christ. (As a Pharisee, I doubt Paul ever thought to see such a thing.) So his prayer is that, since they have come to faith, Christ dwell in their hearts and that Christ's presence in them ground them in love for others. This love for others should be deepened by coming to understand the breadth, length, height and depth of God's love which without revelation is unknowable. He has already prayed for them to have this revelation as we saw in 1:17. Really, this prayer in chapter 3 is a continuation of the prayer in chapter 1.
So how does this lead us to pray? It seems that we should pray for a greater knowledge of the depth of God's love. It's a love that never runs out, never gives up. And, if no one has told you this today, let me say it now: God loves you.
#Paul #Prayer #Prayers #Revelation #Ephesians #St.Paul
Another section of prayer in Ephesians is in 1:16-19. It begins with the thought that Paul always gives thanks for them. This is not unusual for Paul. He seems to make thanksgiving for other believers a regular part of his prayer. ("I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers" 1:16. Also see Romans 1:8, 1 Cor 1:4, Phil 1:3)
Is it a regular part of our prayer? Do we start our prayer time by giving thanks to God whether for people or circumstances or God's provision? If not, it can be a good way to begin (see 1 Thes 5:16-18).
Paul goes on in Ephesians to pray that God the Father give them a spirit of wisdom and revelation as they come to know him. Why? So that they may know the hope to which God has called them, know the riches of his inheritance, and know the immeasurable greatness of his power. God's wisdom and revelation bring greater knowledge of God which will bring knowledge of the hope, riches and power that he supplies. This growth in wisdom and revelation is supernaturally provided. It is not worldly wisdom or revelation gained through study or practice. It is a gift as promised in Isaiah 11, now made available through the work of Jesus Christ. Through wisdom and revelation we have the hope of a wonderful eternal life, the riches of his blessings both on earth and in the world to come, and the power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in heaven at the right hand of the Father.
So let's apply this to our prayer life. Do we pray for wisdom and revelation for ourselves? It is a good thing to do, especially before we read Scripture. Do we have hope, riches and power in our lives? The power he gives us is to spread the Gospel. Many people envision spreading the Gospel as standing on the street corner yelling at people. In reality it is looking for the opportunities in our daily life to be good to others, pray with them and tell them about Jesus and what he has done for us. It does not have to be a scary proposition.
Do we pray for others to be blessed with God's wisdom and revelation? This would particularly include family members and those for whom we are responsible. Do we pray such a prayer for our pastor? Pastors need wisdom and revelation from God every day. And they need our prayers.
So let us follow in Paul's footsteps with this example of prayer. Let us give thanks in all things and ask for supernatural wisdom and revelation. Let us pray.
#Paul #Prayer #Prayers #Wisdom #Revelation
Paul's authority, ministry and preaching were under attack when he wrote to the church in Galatia. Nevertheless he wrote to them with grace about grace. "I pray over you a release of the blessings of God's undeserved kindness and total well-being that flows from our Father-God and from the Lord Jesus" (Gal 1:3-4 TPT). Paul always begins and ends his letters with a benediction, not a criticism. Even though the letter was written for correction and clarification of their belief and practice, he blessed them again at the end, saying, "Finally my beloved ones - may the wonderful grace of our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, be flowing in your spirit. So shall it be!" (Gal 6:18 TPT).
In the opening benediction, Paul describes God's kindness as "undeserved". It is a theme of this letter - grace and salvation are unearned by human actions. Paul wishes the Galatians "total well-being" even though he is taking them to task. Paul sets the example for us that just because we disagree with someone we are not free to wish them ill, or to pray that God "strike them down" for their disbelief or heresy. No, we are to bless them, praying for an in-pouring of God's grace and that they be well in body, mind and spirit.
For Reflection: Is this how we pray for those with whom we disagree?
#Paul #Prayer #St.Paul #Grace
We may know more about the apostle Paul's prayer life than any other New Testament person's simply because his letters contain prayers for the various recipients. In this series we will examine some of these recorded prayers to mine them for the power they demonstrated.
"So I kneel humbly in awe before the Father of our Lord Jesus, the Messiah, the perfect Father of every father and child in heaven and on the earth. And I pray that he would unveil within you the unlimited riches of his glory and favor until supernatural strength floods your innermost being with his divine might and explosive power" (Ephesians 3:15-16 TPT). He begins, "So I kneel humbly in awe before the Father". Did his prayer time include a type of transport to the throne room of God where he could kneel in awe in the actual divine presence? Or was it in his mind's eye that he experienced the sensation of being in God's presence? Did he physically kneel beside his bed or in his prayer corner? Maybe he knelt to pray as he was dictating the letter? This last option seems less likely to me. I've always pictured Paul pacing the room as he dictates his letters, sometimes getting caught up in the presence of and knowledge of God, sometimes aggrieved by the situations he is addressing.
Based on 2 Corinthians 12:1-6 it certainly seems possible that he may be indicating he had a supernatural vision or ecstatic experience. In whatever way he "went", he approached the Father, the Source, the Top Guy. He felt confident that he could go to the Father and be heard. Paul is not a thief in the night trying to sneak in through the back door. He went straight to the CEO, no middle managers or supervisors for him. He went to the Father as any son would ordinarily do. Paul knows who he is and whom to approach with his request. He's confident.
And what is his prayer request for the group in Ephesus? In this case it is not for the Father to give something new; it is for God to let them see what they already have been given; i.e., the Father's glory and favor and the unlimited riches that they represent. God's glory and favor in us are unlimited riches. I believe the next few sentences help us to understand what Paul means by glory and favor: the "life of Christ", the "resting place of his love", the "love of Christ", "endless love beyond measurement that transcends our understanding". These are the things that Paul prays will be unveiled within us. They are already within us. But perhaps they need to be unveiled so that we can see them.
Do we see these riches in our life? If not, we can ask God to unveil his glory and favor in us. We can participate in and benefit from Paul's prayer for the church in Ephesus.
#St.Paul #Paul #Prayer #Ephesians
There has been much discussion through the years about Paul's "thorn in the flesh" mentioned in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. Personally, I've decided that the problem was Jews following him around (see Acts 25:24), harassing him, making charges against him, and demanding his death much as Paul did to others before he became a follower of Jesus. What great irony that provides.
Paul describes the thorn as "an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated" over the revelations he had from God. Obviously then, the thorn in the flesh is not from God. Paul admits that he asked God three times to remove it. But God assured him that he was strong enough to handle it. So Paul accepts it and goes on to say, "I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and constraints . . . ." We can imagine how Paul might respond, in weakness, to insults and persecutions, even heckling, while he is trying to preach. The types of things being said about him are listed by Paul in Acts 25: 7-8, when Paul is defending himself before Festus in Caesarea. "On Paul's arrival in court the Jews from Jerusalem gathered around, hurling many serious accusations which they couldn't prove. Paul denied the charges: 'I am not guilty,' he said. 'I have not opposed Jewish laws or desecrated the Temple or rebelled against the Roman government.'" These are three serious charges. And it is the harassment, heckling, false accusations and being followed from town-to-town that I think comprise Paul's thorn in the flesh.
For Reflection: It may be that we find people hindering us in our work or our ministry. We may have one or more people whom we consider to be our thorn in the flesh. If so, have we asked God to remove them, as Paul did? If not, this may be the next option. But if we have done so, and God has not seen fit to remove them, have we found God's grace to be sufficient?
Let us pray. God, my Father, I thank you whether you remove my thorn in the flesh or not. I know that in all cases your grace is sufficient. Like Paul, I work toward being content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and constraints when they come about through preaching the Good News.
There is a famous line from the movie Cool Hand Luke. The prison warden is speaking to the prisoner, Luke, trying to teach him that resistance will only get him in trouble. The warden recognizes that Luke is obviously going to be a stubborn prisoner who refuses to give up, and says to him, "What we've got here is failure to communicate."
In some ways it seems to me that is where we are in the United States between various groups. We could cite Democrats and Republicans, pro-life and pro-choice, in favor of gay marriage and against gay marriage, pro- and anti-Confederate flag wavers, climate changers and deniers, and even Texans vs. the U.S. military. The issues are many and complicated. We not only don't communicate well, we also don't believe the other side has good intentions or is telling the truth. So it is not just a failure to communicate but a failure to trust.
It is a sad state to be in because open, honest, and trusting dialog is important in society. However, it is not a new problem in the U.S. or elsewhere. If it were we would never have had all the wars we have had.
Paul had a bit of the same problem in Corinth. He recognized that people didn't always understand him even though he made the effort to speak clearly. In 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 he explains that he didn't speak to them with great eloquence or wisdom, but he came in the power of the Spirit so that the truth of his message did not rest on his powers of persuasion but on the power of God. Spiritual truths need to be expressed with the power of the Spirit and with spiritual words. Otherwise, "The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Cor 2:14). Perhaps what we need now in public discourse is a prophet who can speak the truths of God with the power of the Spirit so that the world can understand.
Let us pray. Come, Lord Jesus, send out your Spirit. Renew the face of the earth. Send prophets today like the prophets of old. But let us not have hardened hearts and closed minds. Help us to hear your truth and walk in it.
"Tear down this wall," President Ronald Reagan famously challenged Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev with reference to the Berlin Wall. Later the wall, indeed, did come down. But while that physical wall being torn down was a good thing, Paul warns us not to tear down the spiritual walls that we are as the church of Christ.
In the successor to the farming analogy that Paul uses in 1 Corinthians 3, he compares disciples of Jesus to a building with Christ as the foundation (vv. 10-17). We are the building blocks forming the walls standing on the foundation of Jesus Christ. As such, we are the temple and no one should tear us down.
Paul wasn't speaking of outsiders tearing down the church when he wrote these words. He was speaking of the fellow members who were tearing each other down with their words, berating and accusing one another. We should not trash each other. Yet often that is what we church members do with our gossip, babble and criticism.
Let us rather, as St. Paul so often exhorts us, build one another up, encourage one another, and pray for our leaders.
For Reflection: How have I spoken of others/the pastor in my church? How have I encouraged them?
Let us pray. Jesus, help me to repair the reputations of those I have trashed. And help me to hold my tongue when a thought is better left unsaid. I want to pray for the people I know rather than criticize them.
Paul has one more use of "temple" in his letters to the Corinthians. In 2 Corinthians 6:15b-16, "What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: 'I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.'"
In Paul's day there were temples to false gods, dead gods, which he contrasts with the temple of the living God. The living God lives in a living temple, not in a building filled with statues of false gods, whether Roman or Greek. The living God chooses living temples, and that is who we are. Not only did God live with us and walk among us, he continues to do so in believers today.
Further we should be separate from those who worship false gods (vs 17) and purify ourselves from anything that contaminates either body or spirit (vs 18). Paul said this because he knew how difficult it was to live surrounded by non-believers. It is easy to be contaminated by unbelief, by worldly ideas, by false gods, unless we are strengthened by the Holy Spirit
For Reflection: Am I entangled with false gods or unbelievers in ways that I shouldn't be? Have I been contaminated?
Let us pray. Jesus, let me in to your decontamination unit. I want to be wholly yours.
We are not only corporately temples of the Holy Spirit (see the February 10 post), we are also individually temples of the Holy Spirit. Paul makes this point to the Corinthian community in a section of his letter against sexual immorality. Obviously, immorality was a problem in the community because Paul writes to them, answering their questions about it. Not only have people been divisive, but they have been boasting, cheating one another, suing one another, and using one another's bodies for their own pleasure (1 Corinthians 6). Paul is quite clear that such things ought not to be happening in the church.
Again he says to them, "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body" (1 Cor 6:19-20). By engaging in sexual immorality we dishonor our own bodies. By sinning against our very selves, we sink to a low level - a level unworthy of someone who has been redeemed at the price of Jesus' death.
For Reflection: Am I treating my body as a temple of the Holy Spirit? Am I getting the proper amount of rest, food and exercise? Am I guarding my eyes from images they shouldn't see, my ears from things they shouldn't hear, my mouth from things it shouldn't say? Do I remember the price that Jesus paid for my life?
Let us pray. Jesus, I'm sorry for the times when I have been careless and negligent toward my body or the bodies of others. I realize that my body belongs to you because it was created by you and redeemed by you. I do not have the right to do with it whatever I want. I thank you that your Holy Spirit lives in me.
I started this website and blog on May 1, 2012. I am a Catholic who has been in ministry for many years. I first developed what I would call a close relationship with Jesus in the early 1970s. Ever since then I have been praying with people for healing and other needs. It is because I have seen so many of these prayers answered that I am so bold as to offer to pray for you individually through this website and phone line.