Summary: This sermon looks at the prayer that Paul prayed for the Ephesian church and then uses his prayer as a basis for what we need to pray for in our church: Strength in the inner being, Dwelling of Christ in our hearts, and Comprehending God’s Love.
Ephesians 3:14-21 "A Church That Is Prayed For"
Preached on July 27, 2003 at Clara/Winchester UMC
Before the term “mega church” was ever conceived, Charles H. Spurgeon pioneered one right in the heart of London, England. When he was just twenty years of age, the New Park Street Church in London called him to be their pastor. God began to move in the midst of that church and soon people were coming in such large numbers that the church building couldn’t hold them. So they constructed a new building—the Metropolitan Tabernacle—which seated 6,000 people, which was unheard of in that day, and they filled it twice every Sunday.
For thirty-one years, he filled the Metropolitan Tabernacle twice on Sunday and hundreds and hundreds of people came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ each year and were baptized.
Charles Spurgeon, who is referred to by many as the prince of preachers, would have been the first to tell you that the source of the churches strength and success wasn’t in any special program or new idea, nor was it in the words that he preached: Left to themselves they were just mere words. There was a greater source of strength. So what was it that gave this church its power?
Well, the story goes that one Sunday, five young college students who were preparing for the pastoral ministry, visited the Metropolitan Tabernacle to hear Charles Spurgeon speak. While waiting for the church doors to open, Charles Spurgeon himself approached them and asked if they would like to see the powerhouse of this great church. The soon to be preachers were delighted to see the secret to the power of this church. Spurgeon led them through a long hallway, down a stairway, and cautiously opened a door at the bottom. What the five young men saw astonished them. Looking through this open doorway, they saw about 700 church members bowed in prayer asking God for His blessing on the upcoming service. “That,” said Spurgeon “is our powerhouse!”
This morning as we start a new series of sermons on what makes a great church, I want you to see that of all the things that must happen to make a church great, the first requirement is that it must be a church that is prayed for. Rick Warren has said that a prayer-less ministry is a powerless ministry, and if our church is to be a great church that is used by God to do great things, then it must be a church that is prayed for, and prayed for often. Great things happen when people pray and great things will happen in the this church when people begin to pray for the church.
This morning I want us to take a look at the prayer that Paul prayed for the Ephesians church. Paul was the founding pastor of this church and he loved the church and earnestly prayed for it. By looking at this example, my prayer is that we will see what it is we need to be praying for and that we would be moved to our knees just as Paul was and to plead on behalf of this congregation to our Father in Heaven. So what was it that Paul prayed for for this church?
Now the first thing Paul prays for is for the strength of the church. Ephesians 3:14-16 “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being. “
Now notice first of all that the focus of Paul’s prayer was for the inner being. What exactly is the inner being? Every person here is a compound being. We are composed of a body, a mind, and a spirit. The body is your physical nature, (the outer appearence) the mind is your thinking, your intelligence, your personality, and your spirit is the part of you that is eternal, (that part of you that is created in the image of God) and it is what makes man unique from all other creations.
Plants have a body and that is it. They have no mind nor spirit. You never see a plant sink into a deep depression. Animals have a body and a mind, yet they don’t have a spirit. Animals have emotions, a dog can have a personality, but they have no concern over spiritual issues. You never see a group of chickens in a chicken house asking, “Why am I here?” A chicken crossed the road and saw a KFC and said, “I know why we are here and it’s not good!”
Mankind instinctively knows there is more to life than this, because we have that inner being, the spirit within us, that longs for a relationship with our Creator...and it is that spirit who truly defines who we are. If you were to remove my legs and arms, who I am would not change. If my attitude changed, it wouldn’t change the fact that I am Barry Robinson. My spirit is who I am, and that spirit is what will endure forever. This tent of a body is only a temporary setting and will soon be gone, but my spirit will last forever. 2 Corinthians 4:16 says, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” This shell of a body is falling apart, yet my spirit is being renewed every day by the power of God.