Jul 23

Part 4: Praying in Such a Time as This

Todd Pruitt |Series: The Soul of Prayer |Ephesians 3:14-21

The Christians in Ephesus lived in a city known for its great temple to the pagan goddess Artemis (called Diana by the Romans). It was one of the great temples in Asia Minor and, to this day, considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The cult of Caesar worship was also prominent in Ephesus. Beginning with Augustus, the Caesars were honored as gods and a growing number of cities housed temples for their veneration. It is said that in Ephesus the worship of Caesar was so prominent that his likeness was seen in statuary throughout the city. To be a relatively small gathering of Christians in Ephesus would have been risky. Refusing to worship the city’s gods or participate in city’s immorality placed the church in a vulnerable position. In his prayer for the Ephesian church, the Apostle Paul models for us that distressing times are to be met not by panic but with prayer.

In the second of Paul’s prayers in the Ephesian letter, the apostle offers three petitions. He prays that they will be strengthened by God’s power, be rooted in Christ’s love, and filled with the fullness of God. Are these the only things for which Christians should ask when hard pressed by a pagan culture? Certainly not. But Paul’s intercession for the Ephesian church is a vitally important lesson of the first and most essential things for which we should pray. In times such as these the world has need of Christians who have been strengthened by God’s own glorious power to know the height and breadth and depth of the love of Jesus.

It was not to the earthly might of Caesar or the mystical powers of Artemis that Paul appealed. What the world esteemed was of no value. What the world credited with power was sure to fail. So Paul bowed his knees before his Heavenly Father to make his pleas. The Ephesian Christians are “dearly loved Children,” of God (Eph. 5:1). They have been “made alive,” by God “because of the great love with which he loved us” (Eph. 2:4-5). What great assurance we have in approaching our Father’s throne in times like these. We recognize the same confidence and comfort in the words of Jesus: “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matt. 6:31-33).

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