Sermon:  Strategic Praying

Text Summary - Eph 3:14-21:  
Context:  Paul has moved from God's cosmic plan summed up in Jesus, to the Gentiles
being a part of that plan, to a unified church being integral to God's plan, to Paul's part in
the plan as a steward.  Paul now begins to attention his focus on the readers of the epistle
and begins with a prayer that encourages the brethren to be strong in love and think big
because God is stronger and bigger than we can imagine and will work in them.  
Function:  This prayer serves as a transition from what God has done to what the readers
need to do about it.  Through his prayer, Paul moves the focus from God's act to how
Christians should act.  Before Paul moves on to the practical application portion of his
letter beginning with chapter 4, he prays.  In essence, Paul provides a model for prayer. 
He prayed a similar prayer in chapter one, then prays here again in chapter three, then
concludes with an exhortation to prayer in chapter 6 when he speaks of the armor of God. 
In effect, Paul shows that prayer should be an integral part of Spiritual warfare, and like
any warfare, needs to have a strategy.  His two prayers in Ephesians provide a model of
the things this readers should not neglect to pray for in their prayer lives.  What this
means for his readers is this - before they try to figure out what to "do," they need to pray.
Content:  Several features of his prayer are that God is the father of all families, which
should remind the readers that God's plan includes all peoples on the earth.  The main
thrust of Paul's prayer is that the brethren would be filled and permeated with all the
fullness of God through Christ.  According to his prayer, this filling would bring an inner
power and strength, a grounding in love, and a clarity of comprehensions that would bring
the ability to see the big picture of God's plan in all that they are and all that they do.  He
concludes his prayer by focusing on God who does far more than we could think.  In
essence, he wants to expand the vision of the readers in such a way that they see
themselves as a part of God's big plan.
Timeless Message:  In our prayers, we should be sure to have a focus on the big picture. 
Like Paul, we should pray to be filled with Christ in order to have stability in this life
where everything shifts and changes.  

Sermon Summary:  In our prayers, we should be sure to have a focus on the big picture
like Paul does.  We should pray to be filled with Christ and the power of his spirit in
order to overcome the storms of this life.  With focus on this kind of prayer, God will
give us stability and the ability to fulfill his purpose for us.

Know:  Before we mobilize for God, we need to pray strategically by asking God to fill us
in such a way that we can keep his overall purpose at the center of what we are and what
we do.

Feel:  The need to bathe everything in prayer

Do:  Examine what Paul asks for the church and how each of these things might affect us
here.  Compare this prayer to your prayer life.  Determine if there is any adjustment that
needs to be made in our prayer life individually and as a group.  Formulate a big picture
prayer for the group and for the church.

Text:  Eph 3:14-21
Scripture Reading:  Col 1:9
Prayer scripture:  Col 1:9-12

1.  When did you first learn how to pray?
	a.  Father took little Billy to a restraunt, they decided to say silent prayer
	b.  Father finished first, Billy kept head bowed for a long time
	c.  Finished, Father asked, what did you pray for for so long?
	d.  Billy said - How should I know?  It was a silent prayer?
	e.  Sometimes we don't know how to pray.  This sermon is about prayer.
2.  Context:
	a.  God's plan summed up in Christ, Gentiles in the plan, unity
	b.  Paul's place in God's plan as a steward
	c.  About to focus on our place in God's plan
	d.  Transitions with prayer
3.  Before we proceed with anything, we need to begin with prayer
	a.  Paul prayer in Eph 1, here in chapter 3,
	b.  Concludes with exhortation to pray at all times in 6:18
	c.  Prayer integral part of Spiritual warfare
4.  Paul provided a model to show us what not to neglect in prayer
	a.  How do we pray?  Sicknesses, give me what I want, etc.
	b.  Paul shows us what is of first importance in prayer
	c.  Eph 3:14-21 - Essentially prays for them to be filled with fullness of God
	d.  Being filled with God brings 3 kinds of strength

I.  Stability (v.14-17)
	A.  A lot of challenges can blow us away, we need stability
		1.  Paul's challenge was that he was in prison
		2.  v.13 - He tells them not to lose heart, then prays for them
		3.  Prays for their inner strength through being filled with Christ
	B.  Paul uses two metaphors in v.17
		1.  Dwelling place - Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith
			a.  Does Christ dwell in you?  What does that mean?
			b.  How many live in a house, apt, have a room?
				- Did you leave it as is when you moved in?
				- Decorate, furniture, remodel, repair, paint
			c.  When Jesus moves in, he doesn't want to leave us as is
				- Gal 2:20 - I have been crucified with Christ…Yet not 
  				   I, but Christ lives in me
				- House doesn't argue with the tenants
				- He has the right to change us as he desires
			d.  What does it mean for him to live in us and change us?
				- Let's renovate…entertainment, friends, clothes, 
				- Extra-curricular activities, how use time,
				- Grades, job, family, it all belongs to me now!
		2.  Tree - Rooted and Grounded in love
			a.  One morning out back, patio furniture all gone
				- Found it in the street, had blown over the roof!
			b.  Being filled with Christ gives us roots and grounding
				- Droughts will not dry us up, always produce fruit
				- Winds not blow us away
			c.  Text says rooted and grounded IN LOVE
				- Expected to say, rooted and grounded in the word
				- Or rooted and grounded in Christ
			d.  Paul does mention those things later, but here it is love
		3.  Without love, you cannot have stable grounding in Christ
			a.  v. 17, & 19 - Love goes hand in hand with stability
			b.  (4:14-15) - Not to be tossed about, how?
				- Speaking the truth in love
				- Takes both truth and love
		4.  Can you have truth without love or love without truth?  No.
			a.  Jesus is the greatest example of this
			b.  Jesus brought both truth and love
	C.  ILL:  Jerry who attended a Sunday School, kept going until a teen
		1.  Family moved across town, kept on going to previous church
		2.  Long, tiresome walk.  Asked why didn't find a closer church?
			a.  Reason - They love me at that church
			b.  Told story about when he was small
				-  Dad was dead set against God and church
			-  Said horrible things about Christians
			-  Dad died in car accident
				-  Christians bought Christmas, took him to church
		3.  They spoke truth without saying a word, demonstrated it in love
			a.  Mom eventually became a Christian
			b.  Jerry later was baptized
		4.  Jerry faced other challenges in life
			a.  Experienced love of Christ through those Christians
			b.  He loved Christ, Christ loved him
			c.  He also loved his brethren, and they loved him
			d.  This kept him grounded
				- When his mother passed away
				- When the members of his soccer team did some 
   				  improper things on a trip, and several were 
   				  dismissed, he didn't go along with it
	D.  We need to pray that Christ dwells in us individually and as a church
		1.  Only then can we be rooted and grounded in love
		2.  Only then can we have the focus and strength to serve God
		3.  That brings us to our next point 

II.  Ability (v.18-21)
	A.  If we are filled with Christ, he will make us able to take on whatever 
                challenge is before us.
	B.  The text speaks of two different kinds of ability
		1.  Ability to think big - v.18
			a.  Comprehend - “katalambano” - To seize, take, attain, 
      			    overtake - In this case it means to overtake with the mind
			b.  Paul not specific on what height, breadth, etc. is
				- Whatever it is, it is big
				- He has huge plans for you
			c. God will cause us to be “able” to “overtake” it
			d. He doesn't shrink the task, but makes us big enough for 
    			   the task so we can "overtake" it
		2.  Ability to do big - v.20
			a.  God does ABOVE what we ask for or imagine!!!!
			b.  Not, "To ourselves who will try to do big things"
			c.  What is God's track record on this?
				- Joshua marches, the walls fall
				- Shamgar kills 600 Philistines with Ox-goad
				- Gideon defeated Midianite army with 300 men, 
  				  trumpets and lanterns!
		3.  No one could have ever expected this from human perspective
	C.  ILL: Apr 6, 2000, Ricky & Toni Sexton held hostage in their home in VA
	      by a fugitive couple on a crime spree
		1.  Toni took dog out, Dennis Lewis & Angela Tanner into driveway
			-  Took Toni back in at gunpoint
		2.  Ricky & Toni used opportunity to show love of Christ
			a.  Listened to their troubles, fed them, showed gospel video
			b.  Read Bible to them, prayed with them, cried with them
		3.  Negotiations, Ricky refused release when Dennis said he could 
     		    end the police standoff by committing suicide
		4.  Standoff had unusual ending
			a.  Before surrender, Angela left note & $135 for sextons
			b.  Thank you for your hospitality, we appreciate it, hope
		 	      he gets better, please accept this, all we have
	D.  This is God ability in action
		1.  They had stability from the love of Christ
		2.  That gave them the ability to see this challenge through God's 
	   		a.  It was larger than just them
			b.  They grasped the width, height, and breadth
			c.  Thy knew the love of Christ that surpassed understanding
		3.  This gave them the ability to "do" ministry

III.  Mobility
	A.   This point is only implicit in the text, but it is there
		1.  Point of this prayer was for being filled with Christ and his power
		2.  Why?  Not just to have power, but to mobilize
			a.  v.20 - According to the power that works "in us"
			b.  Something is to be working "in us"
			c.  In other words, we need to mobilize
	B.  The rest of Ephesians are instructions on how to mobilize
		1.  Paul already used himself as an example of one who mobilized
			a.  3:2 - Received the stewardship of God's grace
			b.  3:7 - Made a minister of the Gospel ((Invitation))
		2.  If have already done that, then we need to mobilize
		3.  Chapter 4 and on gives instructions concerning mobilization
	C.  The farmer said that good intentions are like eggs.  
		1.  They are no good unless they hatch
		2.  Likewise, stability and ability are incomplete without mobility
	D.  We need to be strong and grow so we can go

1.  This sermons is not really about mobility, those are future sermons
2.  Thrust of this sermon is Paul's prayer
	a.  Many sermon series and commentaries brush past this
	b.  Want to get to chapters that give practical instruction
	c.  Notice, before Paul does this -- He prays!
3.  Message for us - Before we do, we need to pray, then do
	a.  We need to see this as a model - pray for the big picture of God's 
	b.  Prayer is not a replacement for action, but a prelude to action
	c.  This means we need to put it in God's hands and let him work in us
4.  Doesn't matter where you are or what you are doing, God will use it if you commit it to him.
	a.  Pray for Christ to fill your life and take charge, then will have stability
	b.  Then you will have the ability that only he can give
5.  I heard this a couple of years ago:  It all depends on whose hands its in.  
·	Basketball in my hands worth about $19, but in Michael Jordan's is worth 
$33 million 
		- because it all depends on whose hands its in
·	Baseball in my hands worth about $6, but in Mark Mcguire's hands is worth 
$19 million
·	Tennis racket in my hands is useless, but in Pete Sampras' is a 
Wimbleton Championship
·	Walking stick in my hands keep me from falling down, but a rod in Moses' 
hands part the Red Sea
·	Sling shot in my hands is just a toy, but in David's hand is a mighty 
·	2 fish and 5 loaves in my hands make couple of fish sandwiches, but in 
God's hands feed thousands
·	Nails in my hand might make a bird house, but nails in Jesus Christ's 
hands will produce salvation 
	for the entire world
Pray, Don't think about what you can do, but pray to comprehend the height, 
depth, breadth of God!

6.  Think Big, not wimpy!  Never say - 
- I could never win classmates, co-worker to Christ
- We can't take on task of planting another church
- We don't have what it takes to do we-care campaign
7.  It all depends on whose hands its in.  Pray, and he will make you stable, 
able and mobile!  
	-  He is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we can ask or 
think according to the power 
	that works within us!  -  If you need it, come today.

Questions for Small Group Discussion