A Prayer for the New Year - To the God Who is Able - Ephesians 3:14-21
As we close out 2020 and look toward the coming year we should be more aware than ever that we don’t know what the future holds. We didn’t know all that we would experience this year and we don’t know what lies ahead.
With that in mind, how should we pray for the year to come? While there are many good things we can pray for, there is one prayer that is always appropriate and always needful – we should be faithful to pray that we would be strong in spirit, content in God and fully trusting in Him.
As we read the New Testament and especially the letters of Paul, these are the kinds of prayers we see most often: Prayers for spiritual strength and for a greater awareness of the power and presence of God.
One of the greatest examples of what it looks like to pray for spiritual strength is in Ephesians 3. In this prayer we find encouragement for how we pray, what we pray for and our expectations for our prayers.
The Position of Paul’s Prayer (vs. 14-15) (How We Pray)
- Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians is not casual, it is intentional and passionate (14)– He doesn’t offer a casual prayer; he bows before God and makes his requests known.
- Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians is a humble plea before the Sovereign Father(14-15)– Paul knows who he’s praying to. He is praying to the Sovereign God who is over all things, but who is also a loving Father who cares for His children (Matthew 6:9; Romans 8:15-16; Matthew 7:9-11).
- How intentional and how passionate are your prayers for others? Do you take time to stop and purposefully speak to God in prayer or are the majority of your prayers hurried and half-hearted?
- When you pray, do you take time to consider the One to whom you pray? One way to motivate your prayer life is think about who God is and the privilege that we have of going to Him with our requests.
The Petitions of Paul’s Prayer (vs. 16-19) (What We Pray For)
- Paul’s Request for the Ephesians (vs. 16b-17a)
- Paul prayed that the power of God would strengthen their inner man (16) – Paul recognized that the most significant need of the Ephesians wasn’t physical, but spiritual, and so he asked God to make them spiritually strong (2 Corinthians 4:16).
- Paul prayed that Christ would be able to make Himself at home in their hearts (17a)– As believers God lives within us, but Paul’s request is that Christ would be able truly make Himself at home in the hearts of the Ephesian believers. That He would have full reign.
- The Purpose or Result of the Request (vs. 17b-19)
- Paul desires for the Ephesians to have a greater comprehension of the love of God (17-19a) - Paul wants the Ephesians to have a sense of the vastness and the enormity of God’s love. God’s love surpasses knowledge, but He grants us the ability to comprehend with our hearts that which is beyond the understanding of our minds.
- Paul desires for the Ephesians to be filled up with the Fullness of God (19)– While none of us will be able to experience this completely on this side of eternity, Paul prays that the Ephesians will be filled with the person, character and essence of God. (Eph. 4:11-13)
- As you pray for others, what dominates your prayers? How much time do you spend asking God to do a work in the hearts of those you love? The greatest need we have is to know God fully and to be complete in Him, but how often do we pray toward that end?
The Powerful Hope of Paul’s Prayer (vs. 20-21) (The Expectations of our Prayers)
- Paul knows that God, through His power, can accomplish more than we can fathom (vs. 20)– While we may doubt that those around us will ever grow in spiritual maturity, we must remember the God to whom we pray. He can accomplish far beyond what we can imagine.
- Paul’s overarching desire is not the glory of man, but the glory of God (20-21)– While this passage is a prayer for the Ephesians, Paul is not seeking the glory of the Ephesians. Throughout the prayer Paul points back to God and in the end God is the One who should receive all of the glory.
- We must recognize that what we see as limitations are not limitations to God. We serve a God who can change any heart. We serve a God who can do things that we cannot even imagine possible.
- As we are faithful to pray and God is faithful to answer our prayers we must be careful to give Him the glory. He is the one who deserves all of the praise.