No doubt about it! Paul was one of the
Bible's greatest men of prayer. And, surprisingly, he seems to
rise to his highest levels of prayer when he is in prison!
Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and
Philemon are known as Paul's "Prison Epistles." In each of these
he has included some magnificent prayers!
For example, in Ephesians 3 he prays that the
Believers there may be "rooted and grounded in love!" And that
they may "know the love of Christ!" But then he concludes with
this request: "That they might be filled with all the fulness of
And Paul asks God to grant the Philippians
"the fruits of righteousness!" And that they might learn to
"approve things that are excellent!"
And for the Colossians Paul asks that they
"might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing."
Pleasing God in everything! He longs for them to be "fruitful in
every good work!" Now, that's maturity!
And for Philemon Paul prays "that the
communication of his faith may become effectual." That means
"powerful!" Furthermore, it is petitioned that Philemon learn
"every good thing which is in him in Christ Jesus!"
What glorious praying this is!
Having reviewed these examples, I now want to
center on a single prayer Text, Ephesians 1:15-20.
Here Paul's prayer directly refers to the
Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
He begins with an introductory sentence which
we will study today.
Listen to Paul now.
"Wherefore I also,
after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all
the saints ...." Ephesians 1:15
The two qualities just mentioned here, faith
and love, are members of the manifold "fruit of the Spirit"
group enumerated in Galatians 5:22-23.
But notice their associations here.
It is "faith" toward Jesus!
And it is "love" toward the saints!
Realize that it is NOT "faith" toward the
Paul is very reticent placing too much
confidence in human flesh, even saved human flesh!
He knows the capacity of the human heart!
He even says of himself:
"For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good
thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform
that which is good I find not." Romans 7:18
At times, even with Paul, it was this bad:
"For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would
not, that I do."
He ends his Romans 7 sermon by gasping,
"Oh wretched man that I am!"
One day this quick snippet of information was
given about Jesus: "For he knew what was
in man." John 2:25
We do not put faith in mankind. Humanity will
fail us every time!
Put your faith in Jesus!
He never fails!
He is always the Same!
And then, conversely, be careful about how
you "brag" about your love for Jesus! Peter learned that lesson
the hard way!
One day the Apostle expressed his love to
this Lord this way: "And he said unto him,
Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to
But Jesus immediately responded:
"And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock
shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that
thou knowest me." Luke 22:33-34
Tell other Believers you love them and are
praying for them.
And of course worship and adore and love
Jesus ... but don't brag about that love!
Lean of Him to keep it strong!
Paul certainly has the right emphasis here:
"faith in the Lord" and "love unto all the saints!"
May we stay balanced as Christians!
--- Dr. Mike Bagwell
P. S. --- Paul talks a lot more about how
much Jesus loves us ... than about how much we love Him!
Think about it.
LESSON 2, VERSE 16:
Paul often said it.
That is, when he
was writing to his beloved friends in the churches he had
At least he did
so in Romans and Ephesians and First Thessalonians and Philemon.
The great Apostle
told these dear Believers that he gave thanks for them every
time he remembered them! And also every time he prayed for
Read with me
Ephesians 1:16. "Wherefore I also ...
cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my
Think of that!
Every time Paul
prayed, he remembered the Ephesians!
And every time he
remembered them, he also gave thanks unto God for them!
instruction this single verse brings!
prayed a lot!
He's the one who
commanded us to "pray without ceasing."
1st Thessalonians 5:17
And when he did
pray ... he always "mentioned" the many converts to Christ,
those whom he knew personally. Probably he had a part in
bringing them to Jesus too.
"mention" means "to remember."
Paul had his
brothers and sisters in Christ in his mind all the time.
This reminds me
of the Jewish High Priest, who carried on his breast ... over
his heart, the twelve precious stones that represented all the
children of Israel! That is called the Breastplate and is a
definite symbol of God's people being on God's heart!
But then the
prayers Paul prayed for his brethren triggered another response
in his soul. That is ... one of thanksgiving!
The Greek noun
for "thanks" is spelled "charis" or "eucharis" and is their word
Paul bubbles over
with grace and joy and love and peace when he prays for these
followers of Jesus!
Now that sets an
example for us!
When I think of
that Brother at Church (or that Sister for you ladies) ... do I
remember something he said about me, something critical? Or do I
overlook such petty things and rejoice in my heart that my
brother is saved and on his way to Heaven?
In fact, when I
think of Sister Whomever ... do I immediately pray for her and
her family and her growth in the Lord?
Paul would have!
this Pauline habit into our lives might transform the way we
view our whole Church family!
When I remember
them, when I just think of them, I should ...
Pray for them.
Then thank God for them too!
What a difference
such behavior would make in all our lives!
--- Dr. Mike Bagwell
LESSON 3, VERSE 17:
were always so ... spiritually mature.
He was just not bothered by a lot of
material things, dismissing such concerns with one quick verse.
He said: "For I have learned, in
whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content."
As an example of real prayer, near
to the heart of God, read Paul's petition in Ephesians 1:17.
"That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may
give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the
knowledge of Him."
The verb "may give" is in the
subjunctive mood, so typical of New Testament prayer. Here Paul
is expressing a desire, a longing, a yearning or craving!
Do notice that he
calls on "the Father of Glory!" He is also the God of our Lord
Jesus. This is praying to God the Father through God the the Son
referencing God the Holy Spirit!
The Apostle here
asks for the Ephesians directly, and all believers indirectly,
"the spirit!" I believe this is a direct indication that the
Holy Spirit is in view. In our King James Bible the word
"spirit" is not always capitalized, even when referring to the
Holy Spirit. Punctuation rules in 1611 did not require such. As
an example, see Psalm 51:11 where David prayed to God:
"Cast me not away from thy presence; and
take not thy holy spirit from me."
Paul is praying
for the Ephesians to be "gifted" with the Holy Spirit!
with the Spirit!
by the Spirit!
Led by the
directed by the Spirit in three of His distinct
The "wisdom" of
the Spirit is sought!
skill or intelligence or aptitude at godly living! It is built
upon a root word that means "clear" or clean or holy or pure!
There will be no real wisdom from God ... without clean living!
Paul wants his
people to have the Wisdom of the Spirit in their lives!
"revelation," which translates "apokalupsis," an unveiling! The
Holy Spirit is our God-given Teacher, "guiding us into all
truth." John 16:13
Think of this!
Paul is asking
God that we be showered with the Holy Spirit's wisdom and
revelation in the "knowledge" of Jesus!
means full knowledge! Experiential knowledge! Personal
knowledge! Such as Paul had!
This only comes
through the Holy Spirit as He walks with us and communes with us
and points us to Jesus and lives within us day by day!
What a prayer!
should put most of us to shame!
But, wait a
This prayer, the
Bible prayer, this Pauline prayer can be mine
It's in the Bible
God gave me!
I can pray it for
those I love!
--- Dr. Mike Bagwell
LESSON 4, VERSE 18:
He asks for
the Ephesians that ... "the eyes of your
understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the
hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his
inheritance in the saints." Ephesians 1:18
"Understanding" is "dianoia" in Greek. It incorporates their
word for one's "mind." It indicates how one "thinks
through" a situation. His or her reasonings or cogitations
or meditations are involved. It is translated "imaginations" in
Luke 1:51. And Paul, using this same word for understanding,
says of unsaved Gentiles ... "having the
understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God
through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness
of their heart." See. If one is saved, his understanding
is enlightened! If unsaved, it's darkened! In 2nd Peter
3:1 "pure minds" are mentioned.
personifies our understanding, letting it have "eyes." This
Greek word gives us the English term "ophthalmologist."
a perfect passive participle here, means "to illuminate" or
"shine upon" something. It describes an act that has been
performed and completed, but with lasting results!
This is a
"seeing" that is linked to "knowing" however. This verb "to
know" hints at given knowledge, not earned knowledge.
Illumination from God by His Grace is indicated here.
The "hope of
His calling" is quite a unique term! It is mentioned elsewhere
only in Ephesians 4:4. "There is
one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of
means expectation. It's a first cousin to faith! Once in the
King James Bible "elpis" is translated faith.
Paul's vocabulary almost always speaks of God's "call" to us ...
to be saved. It also can mean the "call" to preach the Word of
I believe that
the "hope of one's calling" involves such things as a heavenly
home in the future, fellowship with Jesus in the present, and no
guilt over the past! Also such hope would surely include
answers to prayer, victory over the devil and harmony within our
the Christian life brings!
wants us to see and know the riches ("ploutos," our word pluto)
Jesus has "in the saints," in you and me!
What a thought
ponders our "riches" in Christ Jesus! That's a common New
Testament theme developed in places like Ephesians 2:7 and 3:8
and especially 4:19. But Colossians 1:27 and 2:2 refer to them
But here ...
it is Christ's riches, His "inheritance" in us that is being
means "property received" or a "personal possession," usually
based upon a person's identity!
obeyed His Father and died on the Cross, He was given an
"inheritance!" God "rewarded" Jesus with a Bride! With
"seed" for His Bloodshed! With, to use Paul's wording here, with
we are precious in His eyes!
this though should be to the likes of us!
As far as I
can tell, this is the only time in the New Testament such a word
picture is used. Although I think Isaiah 53 has a "hint" of such
a relationship! "He shall see his
seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the
LORD shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of
his soul, and shall be satisfied. Therefore will I divide
him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the
spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto
death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare
the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors."
All these verses are from Isaiah 53. Jesus has a "portion," a
part of the "spoils" of Calvary. That would be us sinners saved
by God's Grace!
--- Dr. Mike Bagwell
LESSON 5, VERSE 19:
Paul longed for
the new Christians under his ministry to grow, to grow in the
He regularly prayed that they might
learn to understand the riches of God's amazing grace!
Once particularly, in Ephesians
1:19, Paul prayed that the saints there might know more of God's
Here is how the Holy Spirit led Paul
to phrase his request.
He asked the Lord
to allow the Believers to know ... "what
is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe,
according to the working of his mighty power."
literally longs for Christians everywhere to know God's power!
But look at the
degree of God's power that's available!
It is "exceeding"
adjective is spelled "huperballo" and is the equivalent of our
English word hyperbole! Literally it means "to throw" ("ballo")
far away or "beyond" ("hyper") the expected limit! It is "out
of bounds" power! It is superabundant power! It is overflowing
Also notice that
it is "great" power! This word, "greatness," is "megathos" and
is used in this form only once in the whole New Testament.
It surely sounds
like God has made available to us constantly growing supplies of
Paul wants us to
Power, the noun,
is "dunamis" and means inherent power or inbred power, placed in
us at the moment of our new birth!
power is given "to us-ward" ... in Greek "eis hemas" ... into
us! Also it can mean among us or upon us!
God's power ...
in every believer!
"believe" is a present participle, suggesting that our trusting
Christ is an on-going habitual matter!
And all this is
based upon ("according to" ... "kata" in Greek) the working ("energeia")
of God's mighty ("ischus") power ("kratos")!
The power the
Lord invests in you and me is in direct proportion to the mighty
power God Himself possesses!
Look at the
diverse "power" words Paul has utilized here!
1. Dunamis, which
is inherent power, power "within" us! God put it there when He
saved us or filled us with His Holy Spirit!
which is power in exercise, in operation, in motion!
3. Ischus, which
is strength, particularly physical strength or just brute
strength! Muscular strength!
4. And then
kratos, which is manifested power! Demonstrated power!
What a list!
Every major New
Testament "strength" or "might" word is here called into service
to encourage our hearts!
All four terms
describe the power God has placed within each of His precious
May we realize
May we truly know
And may we use it
to the glory of God!
--- Dr. Mike Bagwell
LESSON 6, VERSE 20:
This is to
me perhaps the single most powerful verse in all the New
Testament concerning the godly Christian life!
been praying … for the Ephesians.
money or clothing or some other physical need, but for their
the way he prays!
He has just
asked the Lord to let the Ephesians know something of the power
that is available to them … power to live for God day by day!
19 is an introductory verse to
this little package of spiritual “dynamite!” Paul writes
“what is the exceeding
greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the
working of his mighty power …”
power available to a saint of God is indescribable!
the very same Power … “Which he
wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him
at his own right hand in the heavenly places!”
That’s verse twenty!
The verb “wrought” is spelled “energeo.”
It is our word “energized!” God the Father “energized” Jesus
back to life! He raised Him from the dead!
Now, whatever massive amount of
Power that took … that very same amount is accessible “to” us!
“Eis” or “into” us according to the Greek preposition the Holy
Spirit chose here!
Within you, dear believing friend,
is the Holy Spirit of God!
He IS the Power that raised Jesus
from the grave!
He IS the Power Who drew you to
He IS the Power Who gave you saving
faith and a longing to be born again!
He IS the Power Who placed you, upon
your exercising that saving faith, into the Body of Christ!
He IS the Person of God who indwells
you every second of your life on earth!
He IS the One Who gives you victory
And He IS also able to do anything
needed to get you to Heaven!
How can we fail?
Rather, “If God be for us, who can be
Or, truly with Paul we can say to
God’s Glory: “I can do all things through
Christ which strengtheneth me.”
because of This available Power, “But
thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord
--- Dr. Mike Bagwell
P. S. --- Think
of the Power of God necessary to touch Jesus and warm His dead
Body back to life!
To invade that
To lift Jesus
through those moist yet hardened grave Clothes!
To let Him see
how to fold His head napkin in such darkness!
To bring Him
right through a rock sepulcher!
The Power to
allow Him to appear to people repeatedly for nearly six weeks,
Then the Power to bring Him ascended
to Glory, placing Him at the Father's Right Hand!
Yes, the very Power by Which Jesus
That Power ...
now lives in us!
I could not ...
I would not say it!
precisely the message of Ephesians 1:20-21!
If you doubt my
words, read the Text again!
Father, let the
saints know ...
is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe,
according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought
in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His
own right hand in the heavenly places ...."
That glorious Text says it all!
WHAT A TEXT WE HAVE JUST STUDIED!