Yesterday, we continued our study through Ephesians on Sunday morning.  I had the privilege of preaching Ephesians 3:14-21 which is a prayer that the apostle Paul prayed for the church.  Paul approached the throne of God in humility as be bowed before the God of glory and lifted up petitions of prayer for the church.

Paul’s Prayer for the Church

When we read the prayers of Paul and we see his deep love for the local church and how he often prayed for them, it should cause us to examine how we pray for the church.  Notice the components of Paul’s prayer.

  1. Paul prayed for the church to have the strength of the Spirit of God
  2. Paul prayed for the church to have the fullness of Christ dwelling in their hearts by faith
  3. Paul prayed for the church to grasp the knowledge of God that would fuel their mission

The children of God need the Spirit’s power to serve God.  Without the power of the holy Spirit, we will fail in our mission.  Likewise, Paul pointed to the need for Christ to dwell, or take up residence, in the hearts of the believers by faith.  The point Paul understood was that if Christ dwells in a person’s heart, He will rearrange, reorder, and reprioritize the lives of His people.

The last request is centered upon the need for knowledge among God’s people.  If this was true in Paul’s day, it’s drastically worse in our present day.  In many circles of evangelicalism, the church is suffering from a severe lack of knowledge.  Many churches are a mile wide and only an inch deep.  In many cases, pragmatism has replaced theology—leaving the people spiritually ignorant and unable to even discuss theology and the overarching components of the faith.  This is tragic, but it’s real.  And just as Paul was writing and praying about real problems that he was witnessing in his day, so must we in ours.

Paul uses two Greek words here in this text to point to the need for knowledge.

  • Comprehendκαταλαμβάνω – “To lay hold of, to seize, detect catch.” The idea here is to grasp something.
  • Knowγινώσκω – “To know, come to know, gain knowledge.”

When it comes to the Christian faith, feelings must never replace knowledge.  If our mission for Christ is fueled by how we feel, we will certainly run out of gas in our journey.  Our worship, our service, our giving, our praying, our preaching and teaching—the totality of ministry must be built upon a firm foundation of knowledge.  Yes, love is important, but without knowledge, you can’t love properly.  Without knowledge, the mission and entire focus of the church is off center.

Like two wings of an airplane, knowledge and service for God are both important.  If you’re all focused on doing, going, serving, working, and laboring for Jesus but you’re not even able to spell the word “gospel” much less define it—you will come crashing to the ground.  The same thing is true with knowledge.  If the doctrine you learn doesn’t produce a passion to serve Christ, you should examine yourself and see if you’re in the faith.

Paul’s Confidence in God’s Power

Paul concludes his prayer by focusing on the power of God.  Paul is certain that God can do far more than we think or imagine.  However, as he prays and points to the Father’s power, we must note that he isn’t pointing to some disconnected sovereignty that is detached from the church.  Paul is confessing that God is able to do, in the church, far more than we could think or imagine.  The power of God on display in the world through the church is what Paul is praying for.  That’s what the world needs to see.

As we see Paul’s love and dedication to the church in his day, what does our dedication to the church look like?  As we see Paul praying for the church in his day to grow in knowledge and grasp the understanding of God in his day, what does the depth of our church look like today?  May the Lord grant to us the power of His Spirit, the knowledge of His Word, and the passion to serve Him faithfully.

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Author Paul’s Prayer for the Church

Josh Buice

Pastor Pray's Mill Baptist Church

Josh Buice is the founder and president of G3 Ministries and serves as the pastor of Pray's Mill Baptist Church on the westside of Atlanta. He is married to Kari and they have four children, Karis, John Mark, Kalli, and Judson. Additionally, he serves as Assistant Professor of Preaching at Grace Bible Theological Seminary. He enjoys theology, preaching, church history, and has a firm commitment to the local church. He also enjoys many sports and the outdoors, including long distance running and high country hunting. He has been writing on Delivered by Grace since he was in seminary and it has expanded with a large readership through the years.