Speaker: Rev. Dr. Marnie Crumpler
Date: October 2, 2016
Text: Praying For Our Church
PRAYING FOR OUR CHURCH
EPHESIANS 3: 14-21
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith-that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
English Standard Version
One of the results of the remarkable ministry of the apostle Paul was the planting of new churches around the Mediterranean basin-Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus. As founding pastor, Paul was deeply invested in the lives of these young churches. As the New Testament tells us, the early days of the Christian church were not always easy. Persecution, division, false teachers, Paul was aware of the troubles affecting the churches and in his letter to the Ephesians we see one of Paul's prayers for that church.
1. Prayer is at the very center of the Christian life. As Marnie put it, "Prayer is the way we connect with Jesus - who is the head of our church. Prayer puts us in touch with the one who gives us everything we need." Take a look at your prayer life. How are you doing? Do you find prayer difficult? Why might that be?
2. Notice Paul's posture in prayer-he kneeled. It implies both intensity and preparedness. When you pray, how engaged are you? Are you ready to spring into action in response to God's command? Recount a time when your prayer life was especially intense. What was going on? What affect did prayer have upon you?
3. Imagine that you've met someone who has no idea what prayer is. How would you describe prayer to them? How would you teach them to pray?
4. Paul prays that the Ephesians would be strengthened as they experience the richness of God's grace. Marnie notes, "We are rich because of what God has done for us. Jesus came into the world for us and died in our place on the cross. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is in us. Because of what Jesus did, we get to have Jesus with us all the time." How are you experiencing the richness of gratuitous grace in your life?
5. Since Christ is the head of the church, the implication is that we are not. There are many things that a church could be united around: great music, a lovely building, or a dynamic senior pastor. In the end, if we are not united around Christ then we are not really united. Spend some time praying that God would draw each of us to worship Jesus-God made man who gave himself for us and for our for our salvation.
6. Marnie quoted Lloyd Ogilvie who said, "Sometimes you have to say good bye, to the glory of God." Spend some time praying for those who differ with you on any matter, including our decision to affiliate with ECO.
7. The church is in the water business. Recall Marnie's illustration about the stadium at the University of Central Florida. Built with no water fountains dozens of people suffered from heat stroke after a game one especially warm Florida afternoon. How are you sharing the life-giving, life-sustaining living water with those in our community?
8. Take some time this week to pray for our church: that we will be RICH.... That we will be ROOTED - and that we will be READY for all God wants to do in us.
Grant, Almighty God, that as thou shinest on us by thy word, we may not be blind at midnight, nor wilfully seek darkness, and thus lull our minds asleep: but may we be roused daily by thy words, and may we stir up ourselves more and more to fear thy name and thus present ourselves and all our pursuits, as a sacrifice to thee, that thou mayest peaceably rule, and perpetually dwell in us, until thou gatherest us to thy celestial habitation, where there is reserved for us eternal rest and glory through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Prayer of John Calvin