Summary: Why Paul prayed to the Father, for the Ephesians and therefore, for us. (#2 in the Unfathomable Love of Christ series)
Just last week we looked at this phrase briefly, from verse one. However, since it wasn’t our primary focus, we come back to it now, only in verse 14, following Paul’s parenthesis which encompassed verses 2 through 13.
I’ll begin by refreshing your memory concerning his reference. When Paul says, “For this reason”, the reason for which he is going to do what he does next, is what he knows and has taught us in chapter 2.
We were dead in trespasses and sins. But no longer. God has made us alive in Christ.
We were strangers and aliens, without hope and without God in the world. But no longer. He has broken down the dividing wall, killed the hostility, made both Jew and Gentile into one new man in Christ, and given us access to the Father.
He has established us as citizens of heaven and members of God’s household, and he now tells us that we are being built up as a holy temple of God; a dwelling of God in the Spirit.
These are not things to which we might attain if we live right. They are not things that will be in the future. This is Christ’s own work, and it is a finished work in that Salvation is purchased and nothing more need be done. But His work continues, in that every time someone comes to the Lord in saving faith and receives new life from above, he or she becomes a ‘stone’ in this great edifice called the Church... and God continues to build His house.
So in light of these truths, Paul sees it as very important that we understand them, and that we receive proper revelation and instruction as to how we fit in, and the greatness of Him who is Head over all things to the church.
For this reason,
It is important for us to note first of all, that he is a prisoner. We discussed this at length last week. He is in Rome’s chains, and unable to go about freely. He can’t visit Ephesus, he can’t go on any more missionary journeys.
But he can pray. They can’t stop him from doing that outside of killing his body.
People, what binds you? The cares of this life? An addiction? A habit? An illness or a chronic physical condition that saps your strength or in some way paralyses you physically? You can pray. If you can hear (or read this) and understand me now, you can pray. And through prayer you can accomplish more than the strongest, healthiest most vibrant man or woman alive who does not pray.
“The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much”, said James (5:16), and the prayers of the saints throughout history have proven that statement millions upon millions of times.
You may not be able to go anywhere. You may not have the money or the time or even the inclination to travel around the world and do the work of the Kingdom in various places. But in the quiet of your room with the door locked, you can touch God for men in every corner of the globe, in any circumstance, overcoming any enemy, unhindered by time or space. Prayer is a powerful tool for the Master builder, and a powerful weapon in the hands of the Captain of our salvation.
Paul knew that, and he bowed the knee before the Father for the Ephesians; and this is the power of prayer, Christian... Paul’s prayer even touches you, 2000 years later.
TO THE FATHER
First I want you to notice that he prays to the Father.
Now, I’m not going to make some big case here for what Person of the Trinity we should pray to. When Peter was sinking in the turbulent sea, he yelled, “Lord, save me!” That was a prayer. He was praying to Jesus. In fact, the Bible ends with a prayer to Jesus. (Rev 22:20)
I tried to think of some instance in the New Testament where a believer prayed directly to the Holy Spirit, and I could not come up with one. Having come from a Pentecostal background, I have often heard people pray to the Holy Spirit, inviting Him to ‘come’ and to ‘fill’ and to ‘heal’, etc. I can’t say I’ve ever heard a non-Pentecostal believer pray this way, although I admit that many people pray, who I do not ever hear firsthand. I can only say that I haven’t run across any Biblical example of anyone addressing the Holy Spirit personally in prayer, or exhorting us to do so. However when we do pray, it is through the Holy Spirit. It is in the Holy Spirit of God, or it is not prayer.
I heard someone on the radio some time back, making his case that we are in error when we pray to Jesus, because we’re supposed to pray to the Father, as Jesus always did, and we pray to the Father ‘in the name’ of Jesus.