PAUL'S PETITION TO GOD
INTRODUCTION: William Lee once wrote, "It is not the arithmetic of our
prayers, how many they are: nor the rhetoric of our prayers, how eloquent
they are; nor the geometry of our prayers, how long they be; nor the music
of our prayers, how sweet our voice may be; nor the logic of our prayers,
how argumentative they may be; nor the method of our prayers, how orderly
they may be -- which God cares for. Fervency of spirit is that which availeth
In the concluding part of Ephesians chapter three Paul bows the knees
in petition to God on behalf of his brethren in Ephesus. It is a deeply
moving, fervent prayer.
I. PAUL BOWED THE KNEES IN PETITION TO GOD. (Verses 14-15).
II. PAUL PRAYED THAT THEY MIGHT HAVE THE STRENGTH THEY NEEDED (Verse 16).
A. It was a bowing of the knees to the Father.
B. What is the significance of bowing the knees?
1. Paul does not address this prayer to the creator of the universe,
or the one who was above all, through all, and in you all, as he did at
other places. Here is uses that fact that God is our dear loving father.
He is concerned for us. He cares for His people.
2. The is the grand and glorious truth that Christians enjoy a special
relationship with Jehovah as His child.
3. Romans 8:15- "For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again
to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba,
4. Galatians 4:6, 7- "And because you are sons, God has sent forth the
Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, 'Abba, Father!' 7- "Therefore
you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God
1. It clearly does not mean that it is the only position of
petition before the Father.
a. Abraham stood while interceding God concerning Sodom (Genesis
18:22). David sat in prayer (1 Chronicles 17:16). Jesus fell on his face
and prayed to God (Matthew 26:39).
2. What would bowing the knees before God signify?
a. It shows an attitude of submission. We are coming before
one who is greater than ourselves, one who has dignity and authority. It
would show that Paul, even though he calls God Father, shows that he has
deep respect for the Father.
(1.) Psalms 95:6, 7- "Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker. 7- "For He is our God, And we are
the people of His pasture, And the sheep of His hand. Today, if you will
hear His voice:"
b. It is a sign of intense emotion. Paul is not just casually wording empty
words before the throne of God. It intensely desires that the Father grant
(1.) Ezra fell on his knees and stretched out his hands in
confession to the Lord in behalf of the people of God (Ezra 9:5-6).
(2.) Paul knelt down and prayed with the Ephesian elders on his departure
from them (Acts 20:36).
A. Paul was not praying that they might have physical strength.
III. PAUL PRAYED THAT THEY MIGHT HAVE THE SAVIOR IN THEIR HEARTS. (Verse
1. It was the "inner man" or spirit that the Holy Spirit would
2. It is this part of man which will remain, which is really important.
a. 2 Corinthians 4:16- "Therefore we do not lose heart. Even
though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed
day by day."
B. How does that strength from the Holy Spirit come?
b. 1 Peter 3:4- "rather let it be the hidden person of the
heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which
is very precious in the sight of God."
1. Most people think that this means that the Holy Spirit will
give a person direct power through a miraculous working. If that is the
case, then we would lose any freedom of choice. God, like the Calvinists
hold, will simply give blessings through the Spirit to whomever He chooses
without any submission on the part of the one being blessed.
2. However, this is simply not how Paul tells us that the Spirit works.
a. Ephesians 6:11-17
A. He wants Christ to dwell in their hearts.
1. He was to be a permanent resident, not a part-time guest.
B. Christ is to live in and through us.
2. He is to be enthroned as Lord of our lives.
3. Colossians 3:16- "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all
wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual
songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord."
1. Galatians 2:20- ""I have been crucified with Christ; it
is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now
live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave
Himself for me."
2. Colossians 1:27- "To them God willed to make known what are the riches
of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you,
the hope of glory."
IV. PAUL PRAYED THAT THEY MIGHT BE STABLE IN LOVE (Verse 17).
A. Our Lord pleaded that we have lives dedicated to loving
1. John 13:34, 35- ""A new commandment I give to you, that
you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
35- ""By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love
for one another.""
B. Our love must be stable and sure. We must not by hypocritical, claiming
to love God, while hating others.
1. 1 Peter 1:22- "Since you have purified your souls in obeying
the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one
another fervently with a pure heart,"
2. 1 John 4:20, 21 - "If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother,
he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how
can he love God whom he has not seen? 21 - And this commandment we have
from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also."
3. Romans 12:9, 10 - "Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil.
Cling to what is good. 10 - Be kindly affectionate to one another with
brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;"
V. PAUL PRAYED THAT THEY MIGHT BE ABLE TO SEE THE POWER OF CHRIST'S
LOVE. (Verse 18-19a)
A. Look at the dimensions of Christ's love.
VI. PAUL PRAYED THAT THEY MIGHT BE COMPLETELY FULFILLED IN THEIR RELATION
1. Romans 8:38-39 "For I am persuaded that neither death nor
life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor
things to come, 39- "nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing,
shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus
B. The duration of Christ's love.
2. There is no force powerful enough to pull away the faithful Christian
from the love of Christ.
1. The love of Christ is never ending. It will not fade away
by reason of time or space. In fact it is the one thing that will be lasting
in this world.
2. 1 Corinthians 13:8- "Love never fails."
C. The distinctiveness of Christ's love
1. Divine love is different than the love that we have for
D. The mighty power of Christ's love.
2. Romans 5:6-8 "For when we were still without strength, in due time
Christ died for the ungodly. 7- or scarcely for a righteous man will one
die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8- But
God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners,
Christ died for us."
a. God's love doesn't depend on our ability to love Him back.
b. God's love is not limited to just his friends.
c. God's love is demonstrated by an act of unbelievable sacrifice.
1. It turned a tax collector to a disciple.
2. It turned unlearned fishermen in to powerful proclaimers.
3. It turned a persecutor in to the persecuted.
4. The love of Christ is life changing.
a. 2 Corinthians 5:14 - For the love of Christ compels us,
because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died;
SHIP WITH THEIR GOD. (Verse 19b)
A. What does Paul mean when he says that we should be "filled
with all the fullness of God?"
1. This seems to mean that they should be completely satisfied.
B. What do the Scriptures say?
2. It seems to be a completely being "filled to the brim" with the blessings
of God, our Father.
3. When understood in the context of the passage it shows that Christian's
life should be totally wrapped in his relationship with God. This would
be the Christian who has received power and might from the Holy Spirit
through the Word, has fully appreciated the love of God with its life changing
power, and patterned their love life after God. They are filled completely
with love and appreciation for the person of Jehovah God.
1. Ephesians 5:18 - And do not be drunk with wine, in which
is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,
2. Psalms 17:15 - As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness;
I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness.
3. Matthew 5:6
4. Colossians 1:9 - For this reason we also, since the day we heard
it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with
the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
VII. PAUL IS CONFIDENT THAT GOD CAN MAKE US WHAT WE SHOULD BE. (Verse
A. We can rest assured that God has the ability to make us
what we need to be.
1. Philippians 3:21 - who will transform our lowly body that
it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which
He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.
B. We can also rest assured that God can use us in the church to do all
that He wants us to do.
2. Romans 4:21 - and being fully convinced that what He had promised
He was also able to perform.
3. "Exceedingly abundantly" is a "super superlative." That is, it is
used to demonstrate an over abundance of ability on the part of God.
4. Philippians 4:19 - And my God shall supply all your need according
to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
5. Ephesians 1:19 - and what is the exceeding greatness of His power
toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power
1. John 14:12-14 "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes
in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these
he will do, because I go to My Father. 13 - And whatever you ask in My
name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 -
If you ask anything in My name, I will do it."
2. Ephesians 2:10
CONCLUSION: God is able to do wonderful things in and through us,
if we will only submit to Him, love Him, and appreciate God and all that
He has do for us. James gives us the key. "Draw near to God and He will
draw near to you." ( James 4:8).
Copyright 1999 by Grady
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