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Summary: Principles for prayer

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"FOR THIS CAUSE I BOW MY KNEES UNTO THE FATHER OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, OF WHOM THE WHOLE FAMILY IN HEAVEN AND EARTH IS NAMED."

Verses 1 and 14 begin with the same three words: "FOR THIS CAUSE."

The words, "FOR THIS CAUSE," refer back to Paul’s description in chapter 2 of what the Gentiles had been by nature and what they had become through union with Christ. Their astonishing rise from poverty and death to riches and glory drives Paul to pray that they will always live in the practical enjoyment of their exalted position.

Prayer is a great mystery. I don’t understand how prayer works; I just know pray does work.

I. PRAYER DOES NOT NEED TO BE ELOQUENT OR LONG IN ORDER TO BE EFFECTIVE.

J. Vernon McGee wrote,

Have you noticed that Paul’s prayers are brief? Both prayers here in Ephesians . . . are brief. In fact, all the prayers of Scripture are quite brief. The Lord Jesus said that we are not to use vain repetition as the heathen do—they think they will be heard for their much speaking. Moses’ great prayer for Israel is recorded in only three verses. Elijah, on top of Mount Carmel as he stood alone for God against the prophets of Baal, prayed a great prayer which is only one verse long. Nehemiah’s great prayer is recorded in only seven verses. The prayer of our Lord in John 17 takes only three minutes to read. But the briefest prayer is that of Simon Peter, "… Lord, save me" (Matt. 14:30). He cried out this prayer when he was beginning to sink beneath the waves of the Sea of Galilee. Some people think that was not a prayer because it was so short. My friend, that was a prayer, and it was answered immediately. If Simon Peter had prayed like some of us preachers pray on Sunday morning, "Lord, Thou who art the omnipotent, the omniscient, the omnipresent One…." he would have been twenty feet under water before he got to his request. I tell you, he got down to business. Prayer should be brief and to the point.

II. PRAYER IS ALWAYS AVAILABLE TO US.

Paul wrote his letter to the Ephesians from prison. He describes himself in verse 1 as "the prisoner of Jesus Christ."

Though Paul was a prisoner, though he could not visit the Ephesians, though he could not preach to them, there was one thing he could still do: HE COULD PRAY.

There are times when Christians seem to be in some kind of prison. You may be confined to a hospital bed, you may be confined to your home, you may think you’re unable to do anything for the Lord, but there is one thing you can always so: YOU CAN ALWAYS PRAY. No one and nothing can take prayer away from you.

We find in Paul’s letters that he was constantly praying for other believers:

• "God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that WITHOUT CEASING I make mention of you always in my prayers" (Rom. 1:9).

• "I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, ALWAYS in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy" (Phil. 1:3-4).

• "We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying ALWAYS for you" (Col. 1:3).

• "We give thanks to God ALWAYS for you all, making mention of you in our prayers" (1 Thess. 1:2).

Isn’t true that we have time to do many things that are not at all necessary or even profitable. How much time are we giving to prayer for other people?

III. PRAYER IS ALWAYS AS NECESSARY AS INSTRUCTION IS.

It would be a great mistake if we got the impression that Paul was praying for the Ephesians only because he could not preach to them. Were he out of prison he would still be praying for them.

A. It is as essential that we should pray for ourselves as it is that we should instruct ourselves.

Paul coveted the prayers of other Christians:

• "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; and FOR ME, that utterance my be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make know the mystery of the gospel" (Eph. 6:18-19).

• "Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God FOR ME; that I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judea; and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints; that I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed" (Rom. 15:30-32).

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