Summary: The prayer in Ephesians 3 is the most important prayer we could possibly pray because it focuses on God’s most highly prized objective. Do you know what that is and why it’s so important to us?
OPEN: A businessman was troubled about an upcoming important deal for his company and so he went to church to pray for God to help him.
By chance, he knelt down next to a man who was praying for $100 to pay an urgent debt. When he overheard the poor man’s prayer, the businessman took out his wallet and pressed $100 into the other man’s hand. Overjoyed, the man got up and left the church.
The businessman then closed his eyes and prayed,
"And now, Lord, that I have your undivided attention...."
APPLY: When I pray, I want God’s attention.
I want to “feel” that God is there and He’s listening.
But there are people who’ve told me that they weren’t quite sure God was listening to them. They have described their feeling as if their prayers just never quite made it past the ceiling.
How many of you have ever felt that way? (about ½ the congregation raised their hands).
Now, we know that we shouldn’t have to worry about God paying attention to our prayers. He loves us and He listens to our prayers because He cares for us.
All our prayers are important to God. But this morning, I want to introduce you to a way of praying that is guaranteed to get God’s attention more than any other kind of prayer you can pray.
What kind of prayer would accomplish that?
What kind of prayer would absolutely get God’s interest?
Well it’s recorded right here in Ephesians 3
In verse 8 and 9 Paul tells us that God gave him grace so that he could “preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things.”
And then in verse 14 he says: “For this reason I kneel before the Father”
What Paul is saying is this: The reason I’m praying this particular prayer is because God has a goal… God has an agenda.
· God wants everyone to know the riches that can be found in Christ
· AND He wants the mystery of His salvation to be so plain and so obvious that others will understand it and want what we Christians have.
That’s what God wants…and Paul is praying a prayer focused on achieving that objective. Everything in Paul’s short prayer concentrates on God’s goal. God’s agenda.
But wait a minute Jeff… I thought you were going to talk about my prayers... about the things that I want when I pray.
Well, I am.
ILLUS: When you’re in a conversation with someone and you want their attention, what should you talk to them about? What will get them interested in what you have to say?
You talk about them… about the things that they care about! You talk about their kids, their grandkids, their spouse, their job, their home…the list could go on and on.
That will get someone to pay attention to what you have to say faster than anything else you can do.
Jesus said that our relationship with God works much the same way: “seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33
In other words, if our lives… and our prayers... are focused on seeking God’s Kingdom 1st then we’ll get God’s attention. And when we get His attention then He promises He will give us what we need.
“seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33
Even Jesus prayed that way. Do you remember the night that Jesus was betrayed. He prayed 3 times that God would remove the cup of His suffering. Remove the cup of His impending crucifixion. But each time Jesus ended His prayer with one very important phrase. Do you how Jesus ended His prayer? (get them to answer). That’s right: “Not my will but yours be done.”
So, when Paul prays this prayer in Ephesians 3 he’s asking for God’s Will to be done. He’s praying for something he knows God wants done.
· God wants everyone to know how wonderful Jesus is…
· AND God wants that message to be so plain and so obvious that others will understand it and want what we Christians have.
So what does Paul pray for?
What can he pray for that will make God’s message powerful and vocal and appealing to the world?
Well, he prays for the church. Paul prays for the local congregation at Ephesus.
Look with me again to Ephesians 3:16-18
“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen YOU with power through his Spirit in YOUR inner being, so that Christ may dwell in YOUR hearts through faith. And I pray that YOU, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ”