Summary: Paul helps us understand what a privilege prayer is.
The new church treasurer was struggling to open a combination lock on the offering safe. He had been told the combination, but couldn’t quite remember it. Finally he went to the pastor and asked for help. The pastor came into the room and began to turn the dial. After the first two numbers he paused and stared blankly for a moment. Finally he looked serenely heavenward and his lips moved silently. Then he looked back at the lock, and quickly turned to the final number and opened the safe. The treasurer was amazed. “I’m in awe of your faith, Pastor,” he said. “Oh, it’s really nothing,” the pastor answered. “The combination is printed on a piece of tape on the ceiling.”
I didn’t quite know how to start today’s sermon about prayer so I looked up prayer jokes online. As you can imagine, there are a lot of them. It seems that to many prayer itself is a joke. After all you can’t see the God to whom you are supposedly speaking, and how often has this God answered your prayers? Isn’t prayer nothing more than wishful thinking on the part of those who offer them? Since I assume that you are all Christians, you would never agree with observations like that. However, if we are so certain that God hears and answers our prayers, why aren’t we more fervent in our prayer life? Why is prayer often an afterthought? As we continue our sermon series on the book of Ephesians, the Apostle Paul will give us a God’s-eye view of prayer so that we better appreciate this unique gift and privilege.
When you pray, what kind of posture do you adopt? Do you fold your hands, close your eyes, and bow your head? That seems to be the most common practice in our circles. Listen to the posture Paul said he adopted when he prayed. “For this reason I kneel before the Father…” (Ephesians 3:14). Paul wasn’t the only one to kneel when he prayed. Jesus did that when he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane shortly before his death. And an early church historian reports that the Apostle James spent so much time on his knees in prayer that his knees were as calloused as those of a camel! Although I’m not suggesting that kneeling is the only posture we may adopt when we pray, we should at least consider why Paul and others would take such a prayer posture. By kneeling what were they saying about the God to whom they spoke? Weren’t they confessing that he was their Lord and that they were his servants?
Is that our attitude when we approach God in prayer, or do we treat him like a restaurant waiter who we expect to do our bidding? And once God has done what we have asked him to, do we expect him to keep his nose out of our business, the way we expect a restaurant waiter to refrain from hovering over our table while we’re eating? But God is not our waiter whose sole purpose is to do our bidding. Paul said about God at the end of today’s text: “…to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen” (Ephesians 3:21).