Summary: Can such a great Christian exist without prayer? Today we enter his prayer closet.
Paul: Man of Prayer?
When we think of prayer warriors we think of Moses praying for his people, David confessing his sins and seeking help, Elijah on Mt. Carmel calling down fire from heaven, or Daniel praying when it was against the law in a hostile land. But what about Paul? There are many prayers recorded from others, but few from him. Can such a great Christian exist without prayer? Today we enter his prayer closet.
Keep in mind that Paul wrote this letter and prayed this prayer from a Roman prison. Bound by chains...his liberty restricted, but his prayers could not be held down.
ill.--you can pray in school anytime you want [as long as there are tests!]
You can pray on the road...just keeps your eyes open! Pray in bed, on your knees, at the table, in church, pray without ceasing!
1. The reason Paul prayed.
v. 15-16 A good report! What a shame that most of our prayers are about something negative. We get MOTIVATED to pray in those times, and that’s ok, God is our Father, we are His children, and He wants us to come to Him and cast our burdens upon him. But let’s be careful about treating God like an errand boy or a genie. Maturity means we have a relationship built on a lot more than that.
The consistency of God’s blessings is often the very thing which causes us to take them for granted. We need to become people of praise!
ill.--the day the sun did not shine. Hour after hour the sunrise didn’t happen, and no birds sang, but the hoot owl broke the silence. It was a Sunday, and by that evening the churches were filled with people wringing their hands in anguish, praying for the sun to shine. In the morning, millions of faces pointed east, wondering if the sun would rise that day, and as the sky began to glow red and the sun began to rise there were loud shouts of joy and millions of lips gave praise to God!
We don’t give thanks for things until we lose them!
Over the years we have gotten used to the blessings of decisions in church, until they vanish...then we really appreciate it more when it happens! And if still you can view spiritual decisions and yawn, you’ve got major problems.
2. The request Paul made.
vv. 17-18a Very specific. That they might know God more personally. The gospel is not just that we can be saved...it is that we can know God, and grow in that knowledge.
ill.--marriage should grow in like manner as the years go by.
To know God initially is salvation.
To know God increasingly is sanctification.
To know God ultimately is glorification.
v. 18a At salvation you get new senses you didn’t have before.
New taste buds, for the things you used to enjoy are now distasteful.
New eyes, for the entertainment you used to look at somehow looks different now.
New ears, for those dirty jokes and that negative music have taken on a different sound now.
Before you were saved, the things of God were not real and seemed boring. Now it captivates your every thought of the day!
I used to hear people say that God had ’spoken to them.’ What? I have never heard Him speak? But with new spiritual ears now I understand how He speaks to my heart, and it’s crystal clear surround sound with no distortion!
Here’s a major problem in the ’church world’ today. Many of its members have never been saved...and therefore have no spiritual eyes.
3. The result of Paul’s prayer.
v. 18b ’his calling’ = spiritual purpose. This is missing in the lives of many today--no keen awareness of their purpose. God didn’t just create us to get up, go to work, come home, eat, watch TV, and sleep...to do it all over again the next day.
God has a great purpose for each of us, in the context of the local church! Let’s find yours!
v. 18c ’his inheritance’ = preciousness
Back to v. 11 where we see that God has an inheritance in us.
In v. 18 we see that we have an inheritance in God. How special we are to God! You are so important to Him that He claims you as His inheritance!
You never have to hang your head low and feel like a nobody. God has a stake in you...a vested interest. He died for you!
v. 19 ’power’ [Greek words used: dunamis=dynamite / energean = energetic power / ’mighty’ = whole magnitude of power.]
What a vocabulary! And this awesome power is available to us as power over sin, power over this world, power over the devil thru God!
What is the greatest display of God’s power? Was it creation of the universe? Was it the flood? Was it the plagues of the Egyptians? The Red Sea parting?