Ephesians 3:14-17a

Sunday Morning Bible Study

March 26, 2006


As we’ve worked our way through Ephesians, Paul has been talking about this amazing mystery of God – that He would save Gentiles. Yet it all makes sense. When Jesus died on the cross, He didn’t just die to pay for the sins of the Jews, but He died to pay for the sins of the whole world.

Today we start a section where Paul prays for the Ephesians. Over the next couple of weeks we’ll be looking at some of the various aspects of prayer. Just what do you think prayer is all about?


A little boy wanted $100.00 very badly and prayed for weeks, but nothing happened. Then he decided to write God a letter requesting the $100.00. When the postal authorities received the letter to God, USA, they decided to send it to the President. The president was so amused that he instructed his secretary to send the little boy a $5.00 bill. The president thought this would appear to be a lot of money to a little boy. The little boy was delighted with the $5.00 bill and sat down to write a thank-you note to God, which read: Dear God: Thank you very much for sending the money. However, I noticed that for some reason you sent it through Washington, D.C., and, as usual, those turkeys deducted $95.00 in taxes.

:14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

For what reason? Because of the reason that Jesus died for the whole world, that the Gentiles would also be saved.

I bowkampto – to bend, bow, the knee (the knees)


The Posture of Prayer

Do you have to be on your knees to pray?
No. God is more concerned about the attitude of your heart than the position of your body.
There are other types of postures for prayer mentioned in the Bible:
Abram fell on his face before God (Gen. 17:3)
Hands lifted up:

(1 Tim 2:8 NKJV) I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting;

Solomon stood up when he prayed to dedicate the Temple (2Chr. 6:12)
Sometimes I like to go on a walk as I pray. I’m sure the neighbors wonder who the kook is who talks to himself while he’s walking.
In the Garden, Jesus fell on His face and prayed (Mat. 26:39)
Sometimes Jesus prayed with His eyes looking up to heaven (John 17:1)
Why is it that some people bow their heads, close their eyes, and fold their hands to pray?
Because that’s how you teach children to pray in Sunday School. You have them bow their heads and close their eyes so they aren’t distracted by the other kids in class. You have them fold their hands so they don’t disturb the other children.

There are lots of things that you learn when you’re a Sunday School Teacher …for example …

Prayer requests reveal a lot about parents.

There IS a doggie Heaven.

Animal crackers can be sneezed out the nose.

With your eyes closed for prayer, anything can happen in a room full of preschoolers.

Three preachers sat discussing the best positions for prayer. A telephone repairman who was working nearby happened to overhear the conversation. “Kneeling is definitely best,” claimed the first minister. “No,” the second pastor contended. “I get the best results standing with my hands outstretched toward Heaven.” “You’re both wrong,” the third preacher insisted. “The most effective prayer position is lying prostate, face down on the floor.” The repairman could contain himself no longer. “Hey, fellas,” he interrupted, “the best prayin’ I ever did was hangin’ upside down from a telephone pole after my safety strap broke.”
The position of the body isn’t as important to God as the attitude of your heart.
As Paul bows the knee, he is expressing an attitude of humility and submission to God.
(Luke 18:9-14 NKJV) Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: {10} "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. {11} "The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank You that I am not like other men; extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. {12} 'I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.' {13} "And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!' {14} "I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
Prayer is not where we come to demand what is due to us. Prayer is where we come in humility to cry out to our loving Father who loves to hear from His children.

:15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,

familypatria – comes from the word pater, “father”

There is a sense in which God is the Father or originator of all living beings, whether it is the angels in heaven or the people on earth. He is the Father of both the Jew and the Gentile.

:16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory,

grant you – Paul is going to ask God to give the Ephesians five things: strengthened (:16); dwell (:17); comprehend (:18); know (:19); filled (:19).

according to the riches of His glory – last week we talked about how Paul was given the incredible ministry of telling the Gentiles about the “unsearchable riches of Christ” (3:8). Here, Paul is asking God to answer his prayer for the Ephesians according to the standard of these same amazing riches.

When we pray, it’s important to remember whose riches you are depending upon and how great they are.

It’s one thing if you were just going to ask God for a nickel. You could ask just about anybody for a nickel.  But most of the things we pray for are a bit more costly than a nickel. How much do you think God can afford?

:16 to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,

mightdunamis – strength, power, ability

Lesson - Request #1

The Power of the Spirit

This is the same word (dunamis) that Jesus used in:
 (Acts 1:8 NKJV)  "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."
On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was poured out on the disciples as they waited on God in the upper room.
The Holy Spirit was an important part of the beginnings of the church in Ephesus:
(Acts 19:1-6 NKJV)  And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples {2} he said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" So they said to him, "We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit." {3} And he said to them, "Into what then were you baptized?" So they said, "Into John's baptism." {4} Then Paul said, "John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus." {5} When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. {6} And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.
Some people teach that every believer has been baptized with the Holy Spirit, that salvation is the same thing as the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
I would suggest that though sometimes they can happen at the same time, there are several examples in the Scripture where the baptism of the Holy Spirit comes separately: The disciples in the upper room (Acts 2), The believer in Samaria (Acts 8), and the believers in Ephesus (Acts 19).
What is the baptism of the Holy Spirit?
It is the when you allow the Holy Spirit to help you, to fill you, to overflow you. It comes as a result of your surrendering to God.
How can I be baptized in the Holy Spirit?
(John 7:37-39 NKJV)  On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. {38} "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." {39} But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

You must be thirsty – you must want to be filled with the Spirit.

You need to come to Jesus (“come unto me”). Your spiritual eyes need to be on Jesus.

You simply need to receive it, “drink”.

You must believe. It’s not a matter of whether you feel anything or not, it’s a matter of whether you are willing to trust Him to fill you. Sometimes it helps to ask others to pray for you or lay hands on you. But the important thing is that you simply trust Him. Trust Jesus to fill you. And He will.

How many times can a person be filled with the Holy Spirit? As many as you need. I think we leak. Paul wrote,
(Eph 5:18 NKJV)  And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,

Literally, “be continually filled with the Holy Spirit”

The story is told of a Welsh woman who lived in a remote valley in Wales. She went to a great deal of trouble to have electrical power installed in her home. They noticed she didn’t use very much electricity at all. In fact, her usage was minuscule. They sent a meter reader out to check on the matter. The man came to the door and said, “We’ve looked at the amount. Don’t you use electricity?” “Oh yes” she said. “We turn it on every night to see how to light our lamps and then we switch it off again.”
I hope that we don’t use this approach when it comes to the power that God wants to give us if we will simply come to Him and ask.

:17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith;

may dwellkatoikeo – to dwell, settle; to make one’s home, to be at home


Jesus comes into my heart

We don’t become a Christian because we “do” things. We don’t go to heaven because we’ve done a lot of good things. The Bible says that all of us have a huge problem – we are sinners. And our sin is what keeps us out of heaven. But Jesus came to change all that. He came in order to become a sacrifice for us. He died on the cross to take our place. He died to pay the penalty for our sins.
And the way we are saved is by faith, believing that Jesus died for us.
The Bible says we must “receive” Christ.
(John 1:12 NKJV) But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:
Jesus says:
(Rev 3:20 NKJV) "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.
This is how a person becomes “born again”. They have opened their heart to Jesus and He comes to live inside of them and He begins to change their life.

Lesson – Request #2

Is Jesus “at home”?

Ladies, how would you respond if I told you that today you were going to be paid a visit by Martha Stewart, and that she was going to be doing a TV show live from your house? What if I told you that she was not only going to do a TV show from your house, but that she liked you so much she wanted to move in with you?
What would you have done if at 9:00 last night you heard a knock at the front door and there was Billy Graham. He was visiting a friend in town and his car broke down right in front of your house. Would you have invited him in? Would you have needed to quickly put some magazines away, change the channel on the TV, or close your browser window on your computer? What if Billy decided to stay awhile? Maybe even rent a room from you for awhile?
What if you go home this afternoon and find a visitor camped out on your front doorstep. It’s Jesus Christ. Would you invite Him into your house? Would you let Him visit?  How about stay the night?


From “My Heart, Christ’s Home” by Robert Munger
One evening I invited Jesus Christ into my heart. What an entrance He made! It was not a spectacular, emotional thing, but very real. Something happened at the very center of my life. He came into the darkness of my heart and turned on the light. He built a fire on the hearth and banished the chill. He started music where there had been stillness, and He filled the emptiness with His own loving, wonderful fellowship. I have never regretted opening the door to Christ and I never will. In the joy of this new relationship I said to Jesus Christ, “Lord, I want this heart of mine to be Yours. I want to have You settle down here and be perfectly at home. Everything I have belongs to You. Let me show You around.”
The Study
The first room was the study - the library. In my home this room of the mind is a very small room with very thick walls. But it is a very important room. In a sense, it is the control room of the house. He entered with me and looked around at the books in the bookcase, the magazines upon the table, the pictures on the walls. As I followed His gaze I became uncomfortable. Strangely, I had not felt self-conscious about this before, but now that He was there looking at these things I was embarrassed. Some books were there that His eyes were too pure to behold. On the table were a few magazines that a Christian had no business reading. As for the pictures on the walls - the imaginations and thoughts of the mind - some of these were shameful. Red-faced, I turned to Him and said, “Master, I know that this room needs to be cleaned up and made over. Will You help me make it what it ought to be?” “Certainly!” He said. “I’m glad to help you. First of all, take all the things that you are reading and looking at which are not helpful, pure, good and true, and throw them out! Now put on the empty shelves the books of the Bible. Fill the library with Scripture and meditate on it day and night. As for the pictures on the walls, you will have difficulty controlling these images, but I have something that will help.” He gave me a full-size portrait of Himself. “Hang this centrally,” He said, “on the wall of the mind.” I did, and I have discovered through the years that when my thoughts are centered upon Christ Himself, His purity and power cause impure thoughts to back away. So He has helped me to bring my thoughts under His control.

From there, Mr. Munger talks about Jesus going from room to room in the home of his heart – the dining room where the appetites are dealt with, the living room where Jesus waits each morning to sit and talk, the work room, the rec room, and then finally to the hall closet

One day I found Him waiting for me at the door. An arresting look was in His eye. As I entered, He said to me, “There is a peculiar odor in the house. Something must be dead around here. It’s upstairs. I think it is in the hall closet.” As soon as He said this, I knew what He was talking about. There was a small closet up there on the hall landing, just a few feet square. In that closet, behind lock and key, I had one or two little personal things that I did not want anyone to know about. Certainly, I did not want Christ to see them. I knew they were dead and rotting things left over from the old life. I wanted them so for myself that I was afraid to admit they were there. Reluctantly, I went up with Him, and as we mounted the stairs the odor became stronger and stronger. He pointed to the door. I was angry. That’s the only way I can put it. I had given Him access to the library, the dining room, the living room, the workroom, the rec room, and now He was asking me about a little two-by-four closet. I said to myself, “This is too much. I am not going to give Him the key.” “Well,” He said, reading my thoughts, “if you think I’m going to stay up here on the second floor with this smell, you are mistaken. I will go out on the porch.” Then I saw Him start down the stairs. When one comes to know and love Christ, the worst thing that can happen is to sense Him withdrawing His fellowship. I had to give in. “I’ll give You the key,” I said sadly, “but You will have to open the closet and clean it out. I haven’t the strength to do it.” “Just give me the key,” He said. “Authorize me to take care of that closet and I will.” With trembling fingers I passed the key to Him. He took it, walked over to the door, opened it, entered, took out all the putrefying stuff that was rotting there, and threw it away. The He cleaned the closet and painted it. It was done in a moment’s time. Oh, what victory and release to have that dead thing out of my life!