Lesson 12

Prayers for the Church: Paul

(Ephesians 1)
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Introduction: How is your local church? Does it need help? Do you feel the problems are too big for you to handle? This week our study is the first chapter of Ephesians. Paul, while under house arrest in Rome, writes a letter of encouragement to the church in Ephesus. Although the letter is not a prayer, it reveals the nature of Paul's prayers for this church and the type of prayer and attitude we can have towards our local congregation. Let's jump into our study!

  1. The Blessings

    1. Read Ephesians 1:1. How did Paul become an apostle of Jesus? How do you become one?

      1. Is it God's will that you become a disciple?(We will learn more about this later in this chapter.)

      2. Is Paul writing to good people? (It sure sounds like that. Paul calls them "saints" and "faithful.")

      3. Read Ephesians 4:1-3. Does this make you wonder about them being saints?

      4. Read 1 Timothy 1:1-3,6-7 and Revelation 2:1&4. Now what do you think about this church?

      5. What does Paul's address (calling them "saints") in Ephesians 1:1, coupled with our insight into this church, teach us?

        1. Does it mean he was only writing to some of the people ("the saints ... and faithful") in this church?

        2. Does it mean he was flattering them and not telling them the truth?

    2. Let's read on: Ephesians 1:2. Does this verse answer my questions about flattery? (Yes! Paul recognizes that they are given grace from God. Instead of focusing on peoples' sins, it is good to focus on God's grace.)

      1. Does that mean we ignore the sin? (Look back at our verses in 1 Timothy and Revelation. We still need to be aware of the sin in our life and in our church and work to put it away. But, Revelation 2:1-7 is particularly instructive. The hazard in vigorously uprooting sin in our church is that we lose our first love. Paul teaches us to look with grace on our fellow church members.)

    3. Read Ephesians 1:3-6. What is God's goal for us? (To be holy and blameless and part of His family! This answers our earlier question about whether it is God's will that we become disciples.)

    4. Read Ephesians 1:7-8 How do we become holy and blameless members of God's family? (First, Jesus' death gives us forgiveness for our sins. Second, God gives us wisdom and understanding to live better lives.)

  2. God's Will

    1. Read Ephesians 1:9-10. Do you know God's will for the future? If you say "Yes," how is that possible since it is a mystery? (The mystery (v.9) has now been made known to us!)

      1. If this mystery of God's will is known to us, what is God's will for the future? (To put everything in heaven and earth under the authority of Jesus.)

      2. Has God's will for the future been fulfilled now? (No. Verse 10 tells us the fulfillment of God's will is to be "put into effect when the times have reached their fulfillment.")

        1. When is that? (The earth made new, when Satan and evil are eliminated.)

    2. Read Ephesians 1:13-14. It has been a very long time since Jesus lived on earth. How can we know this promise of God's will being fulfilled will:

      1. take place in our life?

      2. take place at all? (The goal is to put everything under Jesus. When you believed, God's will was fulfilled in your life. Paul tells us that a "deposit" on this promise being totally fulfilled is the Holy Spirit in our lives.)

      3. Have you been marked with this "seal?"

    3. Paul three times refers to the Holy Spirit in our lives as being "the seal" of God. (See also 2 Corinthians 1:22 and Ephesians 4:30.) Is this the seal of the righteous mentioned in Revelation 7:3 and 9:4? (Revelation reveals that the righteous have a seal and the wicked have a mark (See, e.g. Revelation 20:4. The seal is spoken of as being in on the forehead while the mark is on both the forehead and the hand.)

  3. Prayer for the Church

    1. Read Ephesians 1:15-17. How does this suggest we should pray for fellow church members?

      1. Is the "Spirit of wisdom and revelation" different than the "Holy Spirit?" (No! Remember the seal of the Holy Spirit is on our foreheads? This tells us that having the Holy Spirit in our lives will cause us to have a continual revelation of God's character. We will progressively understand and obey His will.)

        1. Do you feel that you are learning more about God all the time? Or, are you satisfied with what you were taught or understood as a child? (Saying that some understanding of God "was good enough for my folks and is good enough for me" defeats the goal of the Holy Spirit - unless your Spirit-guided study has led you to the same conclusion as was reached by your Spirit-guided parents!)

    2. Read Ephesians 1:18-19a. Was anatomy one of Paul's weaker subjects in school? What does he mean when he says, "the eyes of your heart?" (The New Living Translation says "I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light" so that we can grasp God's promise to us! Paul prays that we understand.)

      1. Not only does Paul pray that church members may have a clear vision of the promise of our Heavenly reward, he also prays (v.19a) we see the "incomparably great power" God has for us now. Have you seen a vision of God's power in your life? What is it?

    3. Let's read on. Read Ephesians 1:19-21. This explains what power is available to us. Describe the available power? (The same power that brought Jesus to life and sat Him on the throne in heaven!)

      1. Friends, is the extent of the power available to you clear in your mind? How many of us have a spiritual bicycle, when God tells us the power of an aircraft carrier is available!

      2. How did God use the power available to us in Christ's life? (He not only raised Him from the dead (the grasp of sin)He placed Jesus above all authority now and forever!)

        1. Is there a problem with the "authorities" in your life? Do you know you have access, through prayer and the Holy Spirit, to "higher authority?"

    4. Read Ephesians 1:22-23. How many things come under the power that is available to us through Jesus?

      1. For what will you use this power this week?

      2. What does Paul call the church in these verses? (He calls us both the "body" and the "fullness" of Jesus.)

        1. What do you think it means to be the "body" of Jesus? What does it mean to be called the "fullness" of Jesus?

          1. Does this give the church a special role in the God's work? (Yes! The body is what executes the decisions of the brain. It seems we are the substance of Jesus' work on earth.)

    1. Friend, God has great things in mind for you and your church. If you concentrate on His gift of grace and power to the local church members, your church can access unlimited power! Will you pray for that today? In closing let's read Paul's prayer for the Ephesians in Ephesians 3:16-21.

  1. Next Week: Prayers of Praise: Revelation.

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