Summary: Gods priority in prayer is His work in you, not just His blessing for you.
THE PRIORITY OF PRAYER
Be careful what you ask for
What would you ask for if you found a genie-in-a-bottle and were granted three wishes that were bound to come true? If you could have three wishes fulfilled, what would you ask for?
Have you heard the story of a young man who found a genie-in-a-bottle?
Jim is walking down the beach and comes across an old bottle. He picks it up, pulls out the cork and out pops a genie.
The genie says, "Thank you for freeing me from the bottle. In return I will grant you three wishes."
Jim says, "Great! I always dreamed of this and I know exactly what I want. First, I want one billion dollars in a Swiss bank account." Poof! There is a flash of light and a piece of paper with account numbers appears in his hand.
He continues, "Next, I want a brand new red Ferrari right here." Poof! There is a flash of light and a bright red brand-new Ferrari appears right next to him. He continues,
"Finally, I want to be irresistible to women." Poof! There is a flash of light and he turns into a box of chocolates.
(Source: http://www.humorplanet.com/joke.cgi?category=relationships&joke=33 ~Accessed 5-29-03)
Well, we need to be careful for what we ask for, don’t we?
When it comes to prayer, we all know it is essential but next to tithing and reading the Bible prayer is probably one of the most difficult disciplines to practice.
We pray when life’s challenges become overwhelming. We pray when we have a need we wish God to meet. However, we often forget to pray when life is racing along like a chevy at a NASCAR race.
Why is prayer so difficult? ( ask for response)
Success in prayer comes from understanding God's PRIORITY in prayer, not merely stopping at receiving God's PROVISION through prayer.
In other words, we all seek God’s plan, His blessings , His provision, His protection. Then when the answer arrives, or is late in coming we are quick to forget God until the next crisis comes.
Yes God wants to and will meet our needs as He has promised us. But that is only half of what prayer is about.
P.S. Prayer is not only receiving what God does FOR me ( His provision), it is accepting what God wants to do IN me. ( His priority)
This priority of prayer is the focus of this second of Pauls prayers for the Ephesians Christians.Read Ephesians 3:14-21
Before we jump into interpreting this text and looking for some points of application, let’s begin by making a few observations. By the way, one of the best ways to study the Bible is to follow these three steps:
What does it say? That’s observation.
What does it mean? That’s interpretation.
What does it mean to me? That’s application.
Let me make just a few observations that will help us understand this passage better.
First of all, Paul’s mind wandered when He prayed. That’s good news, isn’t it? My mind roams all over the place when I pray! Take a look at 3:1: “For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles…” It sounds like he’s getting ready to pray and then he spends the next 12 verses talking about the beauty and mystery of the church. When we come to 3:14, he finally returns to his prayer.
Secondly, This prayer is Trinitarian. All three members of the Trinity are referred to in Paul’s prayer. Verse 14: “I kneel before the Father…” Verse 16: “I pray that out of His glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through His Spirit…” And in verse 17: “So that Christ may dwell in your hearts…” The most common way to pray in the Bible is to address prayers to the Father, through the Son, and in the Spirit. However, it’s certainly appropriate to address Jesus and the Holy Spirit when we pray.
Then, This prayer is focused on our inner person, not on our bodies. So many of our prayers have to do with our health and physical needs. Paul is concerned more with how we’re doing on the inside. In fact, all of Paul’s prison prayers deal with the believer’s spiritual condition, not the physical. There is certainly nothing wrong with praying for physical health but Paul’s primary concern is internal, not external.
In addition, Paul’s emotions are fully engaged. The Apostle did not try to just pray with his mind he threw his heart into his prayers. He didn’t try the Serenity Prayer or just thoughtlessly repeat God’s name . or glibly offer a bedtime pryare, now I lay me down to sleep…’ I picture Paul praying with fervency and a sense of urgency, much like Daniel did before he was thrown into the lions den.