How to effectively pray for your children

Appreciating the sovereignty of God in prayer

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. – 1 John5:13-14

 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. – James 1:5

I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. – Ephesians 3:14-21

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. – Philippians 1:9-11

…we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;11 being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy… – Colossians 1:9-11

I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him,18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church,23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.  – Ephesians 1:16-23

Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
    that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. = Psalm 90:14

 

Praying the word

Every Christian parent aches for their children to have a deep and abiding faith in Christ more than anything else. Am I pollyannaish about this? I don’t think so.

I do realize that when things are going well, we tend to be more superficial. That is natural. But when the going gets rough, we tend to move toward the things of true value. Then our true desires for our children come to the forefront. We want them to truly know God and have that deep abiding faith that will carry them through the tough times in this life and on to the joys of the New Heaven and New Earth where righteousness dwells. (more…)

Do we respect the one body of Christ?

Or, do we grieve the Holy Spirit?

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. – Ephesians 4:1-7

As the country deacon was known to have said, “The preacher done gone and quit preachin’ and went to meddlin’.” Paul makes that leap here when he switches from doctrinal instruction to practical application. The point Paul is making in Chapter 4 of Ephesians is one of my pet peeves, the failure to recognize that there is only one body of Christ and we are all called to treat one another with respect as brothers and sisters in Christ. (more…)

How can we be filled with the fullness of God?

He is able to do more abundantly than we ask or think

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. – Ephesians 3:14-21

In the previous section of Ephesians, Paul started off with the thoughts, “For this reason…” and then got caught up in a glorious rabbit trail sharing his mission statement. He now returns to his original thought, his prayer for the Ephesians and by extension for us. I believe we can take up Paul’s prayers and pray them for ourselves and our families to great effect.

There are three requests in Paul’s prayer each preceded by the word, “that.” (more…)

What is your source of boldness and confidence?

The practical effect of the gospel

For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles—assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

Of this gospel, I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, 10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. 13 So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory. – Ephesians 3:1-13

Today in Islamic nations like Iran and others along with Communist nations like China and North Korea, brothers and sisters in Christ are imprisoned for sharing the gospel with fellow citizens of these nations. It is no different than Paul’s experience. The gospel was, and is, a threat to the dominance of idolatry in whatever form it takes. It was during Paul’s imprisonment in Rome in A.D. 62 that he penned this glorious epistle to the Ephesian church.

Paul took a different perspective on his circumstance than would most, he considered himself a prisoner, not of the Roman government, but of Christ for the benefit of the Gentiles, these new believers at Ephesus. Paul’s suffering was evidence of God’s grace in Paul toward the Ephesian believers. (more…)

He made two into one dwelling place for God

Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. – Ephesians 2:11-22

The Apostle Paul is the Apostle to the Gentiles. He makes that clear in many passages in the New Testament. One of the issues that had to be often addressed in his ministry was the relationship between Jewish believers and Gentiles. The Ephesian church had this problem of a division among the believers over the distinction between Jews and Gentiles.

The previous section of Scripture ended with the marvelous truth that we are the workmanship of the Father, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which the Father prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Now Paul, as Peter did on occasion, makes a strong statement to remember something. (more…)

Discovering God’s unique will for you.

You are his workmanship

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. – Ephesians 2:4-10

I know many people are disconcerted with the concept of God’s absolute sovereignty over all things which includes his providence. Personally, I have come to find great comfort in it. The sovereignty of God is one of those Scriptural topics that must be handled with great care. God’s sovereignty never diminishes our responsibility for our own decisions and actions. It is paradoxical but true.

Knowing and doing God’s will can be very stressful, especially for people new as Christ-followers. Those who have taken submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ with great seriousness are anxious to please the Lord. And we all should be. (more…)

From immeasurable greatness of power to immeasurable riches of grace

What the gospel means to us

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. – Ephesians 2:1-10

A few posts back I wrote about the three points to Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians. After further consideration, I have concluded that there were actually four points to his prayer for the Ephesians. I missed the fourth point partially due to the chapter division between chapter one and chapter two. We psychologically assume that with a new chapter there is a new subject. In this case, I think that is wrong. Chapter two begins with, “and.” For all you grammarians, that is a conjunction that ties this sentence with what preceded it. I believe Chapter 2 verses 1-10 are point number four to Paul’s prayer. (more…)

Hope, inheritance and power

The immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe

For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him,18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church,23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. – Ephesians 1:15-23

Paul’s prayer is for experiential knowledge, the enlightening of your heart, not just your brain. Good academics, sound doctrine, is very good. I get thrilled with academically sound doctrine.  But, sound doctrine, even with a little questionable academics, that has been seared into your heart by the Holy Spirit’s spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him is far better. It is truth that has been made powerfully alive in you as a result of this encounter with the Holy Spirit that Paul is praying for the Ephesians, and we should pray for ourselves. (more…)

Hope, inheritance and power

The riches of His glorious inheritance in you

For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him,18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church,23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. – Ephesians 1:15-23

 

Most of the time when the Scriptures speak of inheritance they are referring to what we humans inherit from our families and our work. In these cases, we are the inheritors. However, in our passage in Ephesians, Jesus is the inheritor, and it states that his inheritance is a glorious inheritance. Paul prays that we will receive the Holy Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of our hearts enlightened that we may know…what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints. (more…)

Hope, inheritance and power

The hope of his calling

For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him,18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church,23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. – Ephesians 1:15-23

In my last post, What a difference the Holy Spirit makes, I emphasized from this passage the fact that Christianity is a heart thing. If you only have an academic grasp and not an emotional grasp of the reality of Christian doctrine, you are missing the personal immediate relationship with Jesus that is intended and promised in Scripture. That doesn’t mean you aren’t a Christian. What is needed is a heart-level revelation of the truth. This is not academic, it is experimental. Holy Spirit applied Christianity if you will.
(more…)