International Christian Fellowship

Ephesians 1:15-23 – Praying Powerfully

15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

What are the people who really have it together spiritually doing that the people who live in spiritual mediocrity don’t do? What differentiate strong Christians from those who seem to be on the outside looking in? What do successful Christian’s do that unsuccessful Christians fail to do?

Like George Mueller, the apostle Paul was also a great man of prayer. In a minute we will look at an example of his prayers to see what we can learn from him that will help us pray powerfully and Biblically, like George Mueller did. I want you to:

1. Be motivated to pray more as a powerful tool in building into others’ lives.
2. Pray Biblically, powerfully, and effectively for others and ourselves.

As we have seen over the past three weeks of our Ephesians studies with Ivor we have been given much by God because of our relationship with Jesus Christ and our position in Him.

  • Blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ
  • Father – chose us, predestined us to be holy and adopted us
  • Son – redeemed us (bought us back by paying a ransom, His blood)
  • H.S. – sealed us (guaranteeing our inheritance until we acquire all of it)

All this is according to His will and for the praise of His glory (that He would receive the praise for it).

Now Paul makes a transition from what they have in their position with Christ, to his prayer for them. He uses the phrase,”For this reason I too” = Since they have all these things, Paul now prays they will know and experience these things and know God more and more. This phrase ties the two paragraphs together and explains why Paul prays this prayer for them.

In this prayer for his disciples Paul gives us a good example of how to pray powerfully for others and ourselves.

Perhaps the single most important thing we can do for others is pray for them.

Biblically Praying as Paul Did

Transition – It’s not only important that we pray for others, but that we pray the right things for them. We want to become mighty and powerful in prayer too, like George Mueller, William Carey and the Apostle Paul.

Let’s take a close look at how Paul prayed for his disciples to see what we can learn.

First we notice two things about these Ephesian Christians: (1.15)

1. They had faith in the Lord J.C. to the extent that Paul had heard.
2. They loved all the saints (other believers)

We notice the first thing in Paul’s prayer: (1.16)

1. He gives thanks for these Ephesian Christians. We too should give thanks for those God has placed in our lives.

The Four Elements of Paul’s Prayer

That they would:

1. Know God better and better.
2. Know the hope of God’s calling
3. Know the riches of God’s inheritance
4. Know the surpassing greatness of God’s power

1. That the Father of glory (lit. ‘the Father to who the glory belongs’) would give them a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the KNOWLEDGE OF GOD (1.17)

We need His wisdom and revelation to really know God. Such ability is not obtainable without the ministry of the HS. That’s one reason it’s so important that we stay filled (directed & empowered) with the HS.

‘knowledge’ = a disclosure of truth concerning things previously unknown. Truths unseen until God makes them visible.

Most important part of Paul’s prayer. There is nothing greater you could pray for someone than for him or her to really know God. (for Christians & non-Christians) As Paul said in Philippians 3:8, “I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord . . .”

‘That the eyes of their hearts might be enlightened = This is not mere intellectual knowledge. The mind alone cannot grasp the truths of God. It is to know with more than just your mind, but rather with the deeper part of you, your heart, feelings, desires, emotions, etc., a fuller understanding and experience of the things of God. Otherwise the essential part of divine revelation will escape us, leaving only an unsatisfying intellectual understanding of God, rather than a vital, intimate relationship experience with Him.

We need His enlightenment to know these spiritual truths in this deeper way. We cannot know them with only our human reasoning and senses. This is why prayer becomes so vital.

Enlightened to Know these 3 truths:

1. His Hope
2. His Inheritance
3. His Power

2. Know the hope of His calling (1.18) HIS HOPE – confidence & assurance

‘hope of His calling’ = this refers back to 1:4-5 where it says that He chose us and adopted us and then called us.

* ‘Hope’ communicates the confident expectation of experiencing NOW what God has given us. The things he mentions we have in Christ in 1:3-14. All that we have for victorious daily living.
* ‘Hope’ also communicates the idea of the joyful and confident expectation and realization of the FUTURE, that no matter what happens to us here and now, we will live with Him in His home and in His presence forever, without sin and in our new glorified bodies. It is the assurance and confidence that comes from knowing His calling of us.

It’s one thing to have all these wonderful things from God, and we do, once we trust Christ as our personal Savior and Lord. But here Paul is praying that they will experience, now in the present, the realities of what they already have.

“I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can see something of the future He has called you to share.” (Living Bible)

3. Know what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints (1.18) HIS INHERITANCE – self image

We are God’s inheritance. (There is often confusion over this verse because people get it mixed up with the inheritance we have in 1:11). This verse is telling us that God has us as His inheritance.

This is an amazing thing that God considers Himself rich because we, the redeemed ones, belong to Him, as His inheritance. This is a humbling thought indeed.

Illustration – those of you who are parents can identify with this, how rich you feel because God has given you children. Kathy and I feel rich because we have two sons, Michael and Joe, and Sarah as our daughter and Russell as our son through marriage to Sarah. And we are about to get richer because we will soon be getting a granddaughter.

Illustration – suppose you were given an inheritance of millions of dollars, or jewelry or land, etc. Think of how rich you would feel. Yet God, who owns everything considers Himself rich because He has you and me in His family. Wow!

“I want you to realize that God has been made rich because we who are Christ’s have been given to Him.” (Living Bible)

Knowing our value in God’s eyes builds our self-image. It gives us security when we realize how special we are to Him.

4. Know the surpassing greatness of His power toward those who believe in Him (1.19-23) HIS POWER – ability

Power ‘dunamis’ = strength, ability (used 20 times in NT)

– – Dynamite, Dynamo – –

That’s the kind of immense, versatile power of God that Paul envisioned and prayed these Ephesians would know and experience. In the Scriptures and in the Holy Spirit, we already have at our disposal this power–the dynamite–of God to change lives. Let’s ask God to enable others and ourselves to know realize this in our daily lives.

a) inherent power residing in God by virtue of His nature
b) power for performing miracles
c) the power and influence which belong to riches and wealth
d) this power is toward us who believe

1:19 “These are in accordance with” – is Paul’s ‘measuring stick’ phrase. Here he is praying they will know in their experience the ‘exceeding greatness’ of God’s power, an indescribable greatness.

This power is according to: – the working
– of the strength
– of His might

Working ‘energeia’ = efficiency (used 8 times in NT)

– – Energy – –
a) in the NT it is used only of superhuman power, whether of God or of the devil.

Strength ‘ischus’ = ability, force, might (used 11 times in NT)

Might ‘kratos’ = force, strength, power (used 12 times in NT)

a) mighty with great power
b) a mighty deed, a work of power
c) dominion

It’s as if Paul gets ‘tongue-tied’ here trying to explain the great power of God. Sometimes we need to just experience God’s power.

But Paul is not content to measure the greatness of the power of God by the mere words ‘exceeding greatness’ and the ‘four Greek words.’ So he continues to explain it by using some striking examples, showing acts of God which He wrought in Christ:

* raising J.C. from the dead
* seating Him at the Father’s right hand in heaven
* putting all things under His subjection (far above all rule, and authority, and power, and dominion, and name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come.)

In rabbinical thought of the time, these words usually referred to angels or demons. The words, ‘rule’, ‘authority’, ‘power,’ and ‘dominion’ described different orders of angels, the hierarchy of angels. ‘dominion’ = is a word referring governments, beings who are powerful and in control.

Application – In what way does it help to know how mighty our spiritual resources in Him are? Ans – Knowing and experiencing the power of God gives us great ability in our evangelism and discipleship ministries. This sense of authority gives us strength, energy, and an ambitious, determined perspective for living.

Application – How can we tap into those resources? Ans – Through believing prayer! By faith! Realizing that His resurrection power is more than enough power to overcome the greatest trial and adversity you, I, or anyone else will ever face.

Application – Actually to not believe in His power is disobedience to the 3rd Commandment, “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.” We break this commandment when we as Christians act and live as if He was not the exceedingly powerful God that He is. We misrepresent Him to the watching world.

Let’s pray for each other and ourselves that we will believe in Him and His great power, and live and act accordingly.

Paul now ends this chapter with some doctrine about Christ in relation to the Church:

* The Church is His body, the Universal & local church.
* JC is the Head of the Church, His body, which is the fullness of Him who fills all in all. He runs it, governs it, not the elders or any other church leaders.
* In His body, the church, lives His full measure, His fullness that fills everything. He is everything! Apart from Him there is nothing.

Amplified Bible, “For in that body, the church lives the full measure of Him who makes everything complete, and who fills everything everywhere with Himself.”

Conclusion (Review)

The Four Elements of Paul’s Prayer

That they would:

1. Know God better and better.
2. Know the hope of God’s calling
3. Know the riches of God’s inheritance
4. Know the surpassing greatness of God’s power


1. His Hope – gives confidence & assurance
2. His Inheritance – produces a strong & healthy self image
3. His Power – gives us great spiritual ability

What I Wanted You to Learn & Do

* I trust that you have learned how to pray Biblically, powerfully, and effectively for others and yourselves.
* I trust that you have also been motivated to pray more as a powerful tool in building into others’ lives.

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