The Exceeding Greatness of His Power
Paul’s concern for the churches of Galatia was as intense as for any of the churches that were his daily solicitude before the Lord (2Co 11:28). While the words in Galatians 1:19 carry a hint of prayer, there is no actual prayer expressed by Paul on behalf of the Galatian saints. Often he must surely have carried them in his heart in prayer to God, but his language and sentiment expressed are never recorded. Elements of prayer do, however, appear in the epistle. The salutation of 1:3, instead of widening to include thanksgiving on behalf of the saints, concludes with a doxology to the God of Redemption. What is absent in the saints is gloriously adequate and abounding in Him.
The Ephesian letter, on the other hand, pulsates with prayer, displaying the evident characteristics of Paul’s exercise.
Salutation (1:2): The familiar Pauline inscription assumes as well as affirms the equality of the Father and the Son, hence the deity of the Lord Jesus is accepted beyond doubt. Both the Father and the Son form the one Source of grace and peace.
Benediction (6:23-24): Here are words of such rich moment and meaning as to engage our attention beyond the scope of these lines: peace, Paul desires that there will be no disturbing element among the saints at Ephesus; love, no dividing element; faith, no doubting element; and grace, no defecting element.
Thanksgiving (1:16): Paul always lives out his own exhortative ministry when it comes to this theme. Chapter 5:4 supplies a much better exercise for the tongue: "but rather giving of thanks." Chapter 5:20 indicates how all-embracing thanksgiving can really be: "giving of thanks for all things."
Mutuality (1:16): The Apostle’s note of his constant remembrance is not vain repetition. He prayed unceasingly for the saints. Yet at the same time he ever had the utmost respect and placed essential value upon the prayers of the saints on his behalf (6:19-20). How striking are the words of 3:13: "Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory"! The formal use of this word "desire" conveys an asking in prayer.
Doxology (3:20 -21): Paul exults in this ascription of praise to the God of Consummation.
Prayer is an essential component of the Christian’s panoply. Paul places it along with the armory of the victorious combatant in the spiritual warfare (6:13-18).
Two prayers in the Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians call for a more detailed analysis than these lines could offer: 1:17-23 and 3:14-19. They are the longest of His recorded prayers and are suited to the themes he espouses in the Epistle. Occupation with the material in these prayers will provide valuable aid in living above the depressive defeats of earth and will provide a life of mastery and victory.
Mood of the PrayerThe state of mind prevailing in the Apostle as he prays is one of praise and thanksgiving (1:3-14; 1:15-16). Paul has
been occupied with divine choice, the Will of the Father (1:3-6); divine cost, the Work of the Son (1:7-12); divine claim, the Witness of the Holy Spirit of Promise (1:13-14). Each of these distinct stanzas in Paul’s song blend in a refrain of glory (1:6, 12, 14). It would be impossible to fathom the depths or reach the height of this paean of praise with which Paul begins the epistle, but in heart we surely appreciate it. This great sentence moves from eternity to eternity as he embraces aspects of doctrine we find incomprehensibly great, such as election, redemption, sonship, forgiveness, sealing, faith, gospel, salvation, inheritance, purpose, counsel, will, and grace. His added joy lies in the assurance that the Ephesians find incorporation in the purpose of God through faith. This knowledge releases prayer in a positive pleading for a serene and sublime apprehension of it all in the heart and mind of the saints.
Matter of the Prayer
The pattern in the prayer is typical. Something before it must be considered, and something after makes it really what it is, so the matter is threefold in v 18:
i. What is the hope of His calling: compare to the Will of the Father
ii. What is the riches of His glory: compare to the Work of the Son
iii. What is the exceeding greatness of His power: compare to the Witness of the Holy Spirit of Promise.
Abraham, a picture of the first, responded to the call which gave him hope. Jacob appreciated the promises of inheritance. Isaac, in figure, displayed something of the power of resurrection.
Medium of the Prayer
Person Addressed: "The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Glory" (v 17). Divine titles are always significant, deserving our attention and demanding our acceptance.
As "God of our Lord Jesus Christ," the Father acknowledges the perfect Man Whose walk, will, and work carry unlimited and unquestioned divine approbation. As "Father of our Lord Jesus Christ," God owns Him as the perfect Son Who reveals Him completely and fully. Earlier God appeared to Abraham as the God of Glory (Acts 7:2) but we in wondrous grace approach Him as the Father of Glory. We may ask: What glory? Clearly and unmistakably, it is the glory of verses 6, 12 and 14, for He is the Father of that glory. It originates in His purpose for His Own, which the resurrection makes real and recognizable (John 20:17).
Petition Asked: (i) "That He may give" (v 17); (ii) "That ye may know" (v 18). Is the medium the Holy Spirit of God or a prevailing condition in the spirit of man? Assuming that before us is a title of the Holy Spirit, He then is the medium of the prayer, for He is essentially and eternally the Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation. Full integration is desired, and, though Paul often sees a merging of the Holy Spirit and the human spirit, it is frequently not so in actual experience. Eternal distinctions exist. Revelation comes first, for it is what the Spirit gives objectively. Wisdom follows, as the same Spirit is the source of wisdom subjectively. The operation produces "acknowledgment of Him" (RV mg.). The glorious purpose of God will know ultimate and eternal fruition in Christ.
Jul 26, 2007 at 20:04 o\clock
Jul 24, 2007 at 18:02 o\clock
"Our praying, however, needs to be pressed and pursued with an energy that never tires, a persistency which will not be denied, and a courage which never fails."
"God does nothing but by prayer, and everything with it."
"Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work."
"In no other way can the believer become as fully involved with God's work especially the work of world evangelism as in intercessory prayer....When the prayer warrior intercedes, he forgets his personal need and focuses all of his faith and prayer attention on others.
"To intercede is to mediate. It is to stand between a lost being and an Almighty God, praying that this person will come to know about God and His salvation."
Dick Eastman, The Hour That Changes The World
"Search for a person who claims to have found Christ apart from someone else's prayer, and your search may go on forever."
"Have you any days of fasting and prayer? Storm the throne of grace and persevere therein, and mercy will come down."
"No one's a firmer believer in the power of prayer than the devil; not that he practices it, but he suffers from it."
Guy H. King
"Perhaps you will have to spend hours on your knees or upon your face before the throne. Never mind. Wait. God will do great things for you if you will wait for Him. Yield to Him. Cooperate with Him."
"If the church would only awaken to her responsibility of intercession, we could well evangelize the world in a short time. It is not God's plan that the world be merely evangelized ultimately. It should be evangelized in every generation. There should be a constant gospel witness in every corner of the world so that no sinner need close his eyes in death without hearing the gospel, the good news of salvation through Christ."
T. S. Hegre
"O brother, pray; in spite of Satan, pray; spend hours in prayer; rather neglect friends than not pray; rather fast, and lose breakfast, dinner, tea, and supper and sleep too than not pray. And we must not talk about prayer, we must pray in right earnest. The Lord is near. He comes softly while the virgin slumbers."
Andrew A. Bonar
"Next to the wonder of seeing my Savior will be, I think, the wonder that I made so little use of the power of prayer."
D. L. Moody
"A day without prayer is a day without blessing, and a life without prayer is a life without power."
"To strive in prayer means to struggle through those hindrances which would restrain or even prevent us entirely from continuing in persevering prayer. It means to be so watchful at all times that we can notice when we become slothful in prayer and that we go to the Spirit of prayer to have this remedied. In this struggle, too, the decisive factor is the Spirit of prayer."
"Quit playing, start praying. Quit feasting, start fasting. Talk less with men, talk more with God. Listen less to men, listen to the words of God. Skip travel, start travail."
"It is a tremendously hard thing to pray aright, yea, it is verily the science of all sciences."
"The main lesson about prayer is just this: Do it! Do it! DO IT! You want to be taught to pray. My answer is: pray and never faint, and then you shall never fail."
"Prayer—secret, fervent, believing prayer—lies at the root of all personal godliness."
Carey's Brotherhood, Serampore
"None can believe how powerful prayer is, and what it is able to effect, but those who have learned it by experience. It is a great matter when in extreme need to take hold on prayer. I know, whenever I have prayed earnestly, that I have been amply heard, and have obtained more than I prayed for. God indeed sometimes delayed, but at last He came."
"You know the value of prayer: it is precious beyond all price. Never, never neglect it."
Sir Thomas Buxton
"Prayer is the first thing, the second thing, the third thing necessary to a minister. Pray, then my dear brother; pray, pray, pray."
"It is not enough to begin to pray, nor to pray aright; nor is it enough to continue for a time to pray; but we must patiently, believingly, continue in prayer until we obtain an answer; and further we have not only to continue in prayer unto the end, but we have also to believe that God does hear us, and will answer our prayers. Most frequently we fail in not continuing in prayer until the blessing is obtained, and in not expecting the blessing."
"Each time, before you intercede, be quiet first, and worship God in His glory. Think of what He can do, and how He delights to hear the prayers of His redeemed people. Think of your place and privilege in Christ, and expect great things!"
"There is nothing more appalling than the wholesale way in which unthinking people plead to the Almighty the richest and most spiritual of His promises, and claim their immediate fulfillment, without themselves fulfilling one of the conditions either on which they are promised or can possibly be given."
"The reason why we obtain no more in prayer is because we expect no more. God usually answers us according to our own hearts."
"Satan cannot deny but that great wonders have been wrought by prayer. As the spirit of prayer goes up, so his kingdom goes down. Satan's strategems against prayer are three. First, if he can, he will keep thee from prayer. If that be not feasible, secondly, he will strive to interrupt thee in prayer. And, thirdly, if that plot takes not, he will labour to hinder the success of thy prayer."
"The devil is aware that one hour of close fellowship, hearty converse with God in prayer, is able to pull down what he hath been contriving and building many a year."
"Beware in your prayers, above everything else, of limiting God, not only by unbelief, but by fancying that you know what He can do. Expect unexpected things 'above all that we ask or think.'"
"The devil is not put to flight by a courteous request. He meets us at every turn, contends for every inch, and our progress has to be registered in heart's blood and tears."
Charles E. Cowman
"To the man who prays habitually (not only when he feels like it—that is one of the snares of religion—but also when he does not feel like it) Christ is sure to make Himself real."
"If we would pray aright, the first thing we should do is to see to it that we really get an audience with God, that we really get into His very presence. Before a word of petition is offered, we should have the definite consciousness that we are talking to God, and should believe that He is listening and is going to grant the thing that we ask of Him."
Dr. R. A. Torrey
"Pray for 'all men.' We usually pray more for things than we do for men. Our prayers should be thrown across their pathway as they rush in their downward course to a lost eternity."
"There are two ways of praying. One asks and hopes; the other craves and waits until he has obtained. It is just this 'until' that characterises the latter. "One seeks God and finds Him; the other strives with God and triumphs. The first observes scruiously his daily devotions; the second stays on his knees hours a day, through the night. "The first fits in with the ordinary course of life; the second watches, fasts, cries, weeps, sweats blood.
"The first we have known since we learned to know the Lord; the second...'Lord, teach us to pray.'"
"Fastings and vigils without a special object in view are time run to waste."
"Prayer is reaching out and after the unseen; fasting, letting go of all that is seen and temporal. Fasting helps express, deepens, confirms the resolution that we are ready to sacrifice anything, even ourselves, to attain what we seek for the kingdom of God."
"Great grief prays with great earnestness. Prayer is not a collection of balanced phrases; it is the pouring out of the soul. What is love if it be not fiery? What are prayers if the heart be not ablaze? They are the battles of the soul. In them men wrestle with principalities and powers...
"The prayer that prevails is not the work of lips and fingertips. It is the cry of a broken heart and the travail of a stricken soul."
"Effective prayer is prayer that attains what it seeks. It is prayer that moves God, effecting its end."
Charles G. Finney
"Satan's tactics seem to be as follows: He will first of all oppose our breaking through to the place of a real living faith, by all means in his power. He detests the prayer of faith, for it is an authoritative 'notice to quit.' We often have to strive and wrestle in prayer before we attain this quiet, restful faith. And until we break right through and join hands with God we have not attained to a real faith at all. However, once we attain to a real faith, all the forces of hell are impotent to annul it. The real battle begins when the prayer of faith has been offered."
J. O. Fraser
"Mind how you pray. Make real business of it. Let it never be a dead formality...plead the promise in a truthful, business-like way...Ask for what you want, because the Lord has promised it. Believe that you have the blessing, and go forth to your work in full assurance of it. Go from your knees singing, because the promise is fulfilled: thus will your prayer be answered...the strength [not length] of your prayer...wins...God; and the strength of prayer lies in your faith in the promise which you pleaded before the Lord."
C. H. Spurgeon
"Where there is much prayer, there will be much of the Spirit; where there is much of the Spirit, there will be ever-increasing prayer."
"A godly man is a praying man. As soon as grace is poured in, prayer is poured out. Prayer is the soul's traffic with Heaven; God comes down to us by His Spirit, and we go up to Him by prayer."
"A Christian can obtain deep feeling, by thinking on the object. God is not going to pour these things on you, without any effort on your own. You must cherish the slightest impressions. Take the Bible, and go over the passages that show the condition and prospects of the world. Look at the world, look at your children, and your neighbors and see their condition while they remain in sin; and persevere in prayer and effort till you obtain the blessing of the Spirit of God to dwell in you."
Charles G. Finney
"There is no power like that of prevailing prayer—of Abraham pleading for Sodom, Jacob wrestling in the stillness of the night, Moses standing in the breach, Hannah intoxicated with sorrow, David heart-broken with remorse and grief, Jesus in sweat and blood. Add to this list from the records of the church your personal observation and experience, and always there is cost of passion unto blood. Such prayer prevails. It turns ordinary mortals into men of power. It brings power. It brings fire. It brings rain. It brings life. It brings God."
"But have we Holy Ghost power—power that restricts the devil's power, pulls down strongholds and obtains promises? Daring delinquents will be damned if they are not delivered from the devil's dominion. What has hell to fear other than a God-anointed, prayer-powered church?"
"Every great movement of God can be traced to a kneeling figure."
D. L. Moody
"There is no way that Christians, in a private capacity, can do so much to promote the work of God and advance the kingdom of Christ as by prayer."
"As it is the business of tailors to make clothes, and the business of cobblers to mend shoes, so it is the business of Christians to pray!"
"In prayer, it is better to have heart without words, than words without heart. Prayer will make a man cease from sin, or sin entice a man to cease from prayer. The spirit of prayer is more precious than treasures of gold and silver. Pray often, for prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God, and a scourge for Satan."
"You can do more than pray, after you have prayed, but you can never do more than pray until you have prayed."
A. J. Gordon
"Prayer is not overcoming God's reluctance, but laying hold of His willingness."
"Intercessory prayer is exceedingly prevalent. What wonders it has wrought! The Word of God teems with its marvellous deeds. Believer, thou hast a mighty engine in thy hand, use it well, use it constantly, use it with faith, and thou shalt surely be a benefactor to thy brethren."
C. H. Spurgeon
"More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of."
Lord Alfred Tennyson
"Prayer is not a convenient device for imposing our will upon God, or bending his will to ours, but the prescribed way of subordinating our will to his."
John R. W. Stott
"The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, and prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but trembles when we pray.
"Rich is the person who has a praying friend.
"Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin, and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen; such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven on earth...God does nothing but in answer to prayer."
"Men are God's method. The church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men. What the church needs today is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men who the Holy Spirit can use—men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Spirit does not come on machinery but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men—men of prayer."
E. M. Bounds
"There is a general kind of praying which fails for lack of precision. It is as if a regiment of soldiers should all fire off their guns anywhere. Possibly somebody would be killed, but the majority of the enemy would be missed."
C. H. Spurgeon
"If I fail to spend two hours in prayer each morning, the Devil gets the victory through the day...I have so much business, I can not get on without spending three hours daily in prayer."
Jul 21, 2007 at 18:11 o\clock
Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
2 CORINTHIANS 6:2
DO not let your growth in holiness depend upon surrounding circumstances, but rather constrain those circumstances to minister to your growth. Beware of looking onward, or out of the present in any way, for the sanctification of your life. The only thing you can really control is the present--the actual moment that is passing by. Sanctify that from hour to hour, and you sanctify your whole life; but brood over the past, or project yourself into the future, and you will lose all. The little act of obedience, love, self-restraint, meekness, patience, devotion, offered to you actually, is all you can do now, and if you neglect that to fret about something else at a distance, you lose your real opportunity of serving God. A moment's silence, when some irritating words are said by another, may stem a very small thing; yet at that moment it is your one duty, your one way of serving and pleasing God, and if you break it, you have lost your opportunity.
H. L. SIDNEY LEAR
Jul 14, 2007 at 17:22 o\clock
2 CORINTHIANS 12:9
The Lord stood with me, and strengthened me.
2 TIMOTHY 4:17
TO His own the Saviour giveth
To each troubled soul that liveth,
Peace at length.
KARL RUDOLPH HAGENBACH
REMEMBER that your work comes only moment by moment, and as surely as God calls you to work, He gives the strength to do it. Do not think in the morning, "How shall I go through this day? I have such-and-such work to do, and persons to see, and I have not strength for it." No, you have not, for you do not need it. Each moment, as you need it, the strength will come, only do not look forward an hour; circumstances may be very different from what you expect. At any rate you will be borne through each needful and right thing "on eagles' wings." Do not worry yourself with misgivings; take each thing quietly.
God does not demand impossibilities.
Jul 9, 2007 at 07:10 o\clock
IF you love Him as I want you to do, you will offer Him the whole use of your day, as you open your eyes to the light of each morning, to be spent in active service or silent suffering, according to His good pleasure. You will not select the most agreeable task, but His task, whatever it may be; you will not disdain humble service, or be ambitious for distinguished service; you will lie, like a straw, on the current of His will, to be swept away and be forgotten, if it pleases Him, or to be caught up by His mighty hand and transformed thereby into a thunderbolt.
Let us pray Him, therefore, to shed abroad in us the mind that was in Christ; that we may offer up our-selves to be disposed of as He sees best, whether for joy or sorrow; to be slighted, or esteemed; to have many friends, or to dwell in a lonely home; to be passed by, or called to serve Him and His kingdom in our own land, or among people of a strange tongue; to be, to go, to do, to suffer even as He wills, even as He ordains, even as Christ endured, "who, through the Eternal Spirit, offered Himself without spot to God."
HENRY EDWARD MANNING
Jul 4, 2007 at 17:42 o\clock
Blessed is the fact that Christians can rejoice even in the deepest distress; although trouble may surround them, they still sing; and, like many birds, they sing best in their cages. The waves may roll over them, but their souls soon rise to the surface and see the light of God's countenance; they have a buoyancy about them which keeps their head always above the water, and helps them to sing amid the tempest, "God is with me still." To whom shall the glory be given? Oh! to Jesus--it is all by Jesus.
Trouble does not necessarily bring consolation with it to the believer, but the presence of the Son of God in the fiery furnace with him fills his heart with joy. He is sick and suffering, but Jesus visits him and makes his bed for him. He is dying, and the cold chilly waters of Jordan are gathering about him up to the neck, but Jesus puts His arms around him, and cries, "Fear not, beloved; to die is to be blessed; the waters of death have their fountain-head in heaven; they are not bitter, they are sweet as nectar, for they flow from the throne of God." As the departing saint wades through the stream, and the billows gather around him, and heart and flesh fail him, the same voice sounds in his ears, "Fear not; I am with thee; be not dismayed; I am thy God." As he nears the borders of the infinite unknown, and is almost affrighted to enter the realm of shades, Jesus says, "Fear not, it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." Thus strengthened and consoled, the believer is not afraid to die; nay, he is even willing to depart, for since he has seen Jesus as the morning star, he longs to gaze upon Him as the sun in his strength. Truly, the presence of Jesus is all the heaven we desire. He is at once
"The glory of our brightest days;
The comfort of our nights."
A cry is the natural expression of sorrow, and a suitable utterance when all other modes of appeal fail us; but the cry must be alone directed to the Lord, for to cry to man is to waste our entreaties upon the air.
When we consider the readiness of the Lord to hear, and His ability to aid, we shall see good reason for directing all our appeals at once to the God of our salvation. It will be in vain to call to the rocks in the day of judgment, but our Rock attends to our cries.
"Be not silent to me." Mere formalists may be content without answers to their prayers, but genuine suppliants cannot; they are not satisfied with the results of prayer itself in calming the mind and subduing the will--they must go further, and obtain actual replies from heaven, or they cannot rest; and those replies they long to receive at once, they dread even a little of God's silence.
God's voice is often so terrible that it shakes the wilderness; but His silence is equally full of awe to an eager suppliant. When God seems to close His ear, we must not therefore close our mouths, but rather cry with more earnestness; for when our note grows shrill with eagerness and grief, He will not long deny us a hearing.
What a dreadful case should we be in if the Lord should become for ever silent to our prayers? "Lest, if Thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit." Deprived of the God who answers prayer, we should be in a more pitiable plight than the dead in the grave, and should soon sink to the same level as the lost in hell.
We must have answers to prayer: ours is an urgent case of dire necessity; surely the Lord will speak peace to our agitated minds, for He never can find it in His heart to permit His own elect to perish.