Summary: Using Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3:14-21, we have an effective model for praying for what we need.
What would you ask for if you found a genie-in-a-bottle and were granted three wishes that were bound to come true? Graduates, if you could have three wishes fulfilled, what would you ask for?
Have you heard the story of a young man who found a genie-in-a-bottle? This young adult is walking down the beach and comes across an old bottle. He picks it up, pulls out the cork and out pops a genie.
The genie says, "Thank you for freeing me from the bottle. In return I will grant you three wishes." The man says, "Great! I always dreamed of this and I know exactly what I want. First, I want one billion dollars in a Swiss bank account." Poof! There is a flash of light and a piece of paper with account numbers appears in his hand. He continues, "Next, I want a brand new red Ferrari right here." Poof! There is a flash of light and a bright red brand-new Ferrari appears right next to him. He continues, "Finally, I want to be irresistible to women." Poof! There is a flash of light and he turns into a box of chocolates.
(Source: http://www.humorplanet.com/joke.cgi?category=relationships&joke=33 ~Accessed 5-29-03)
As Christians, we know that there are no genies in a bottle. But, we have the awesome privilege to bow before our Heavenly Father in prayer to ask him for what we need. What will you ask for? Today, in honor of our graduates, I want to offer "A Prayer for a Graduate." (In fact, these are requests that everyone—all the Pre- and Post- Graduates among us—would do well to consider also!)The prayer that I will offer will come right from the Bible. In Ephesians 3:14-21, Paul provides us an excellent model for our praying.
Paul makes three essential requests. We should be praying for these things as well:
I. To let Jesus rule my life, through the power of the Holy Spirit, whatever career I choose (3:16-17a)
A. We can see this request in two inter-related requests that Paul makes:
1. Paul prays that "he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being" (3:16)
a.The ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives is absolutely indispensable to Christian living. Why? Because Jesus said in John 16:7: “But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” It is the indwelling ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of believers that continues the ministry of Jesus on earth.
b. We each have a choice to make: will we live in our own strength or will we “live by the Spirit… and not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” (Gal 5:16) And here’s an incentive: one of the fruit of the Spirit is joy (Gal. 5:22); so living in the Spirit is the only guarantee of true and lasting joy!
2. Paul adds, "so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith..." (3:17a)
a. Christ only comes into the life a person through faith. The Bible teaches that faith is not just a head-knowledge but it is also a heart-acceptance that is evidenced in a lifestyle commitment.
b. Paul uses a word for "dwell" which means to live permanently, not a temporary resident but as a full-timer!
c. Robert Boyd Munger in his very interesting booklet, "My Heart- Christ’s Home" remarking about this very verse reminds us that, “Without question one of the most remarkable Christian doctrines is that Jesus Christ himself through the Holy Spirit will actually enter a heart, settle down and be at home there. Christ will live in any human heart that welcomes him. (Source: Robert Boyd Munger, My Heart-Christ’s Home IVP: 1986)
i) Boyd uses the imagery of a home with many rooms to bring out the full meaning of what it means to have Christ actually residing in our lives
ii)How would you react if you got a phone call tomorrow from Jesus asking if he could move in? What rooms might you have to clean out… remodel?
...The Study: the things you let your mind take in… books, magazines, music, and movies…Would you have to take some things off the shelf?
...The Dining & Living Rooms: the activities you engage in pursuit of daily living… Would you have to change your routine if Jesus was living in your home?
...The Work, Rec and Bedrooms? Would there need to changes there also?
...The Hall Closet: Would you be afraid of what Jesus would find stuff way back into the corner crevices?
II. Paul makes a second request: To know and share the love of Christ wherever God takes me (3:17b-19a)
A. Paul asks that we would be rooted (using the image of the importance of a root system for the vitality of a plant) and established (using the image of the foundation of a building) in the love of Christ… How do we become rooted and established in the love of Christ? We need to experience it!