Series Title Connected: My life in the Church

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1 Series Title Connected: My life in the Church Week 6: CONNECTED THROUGH PRAYER Key Scripture Ephesians 6:18-22 INTRODUCTION Question: What do you miss most when the power goes out? The Point: Support your church with prayer. Bible Study Meets Life (pg. ) The church on mission is a threat to Satan. It s no surprise, then, that he would work to cause church leaders to stumble; he seeks to reap discord among the members. It s important that we pray for one another and certainly for those in positions of leadership in the church. God, in ways we don t always understand fully, chooses to work through the prayers of believers. Setting: As Paul wrapped up his letter to the Ephesians, he had one last word of instruction before saying his goodbyes: pray. Competing religions and philosophies had not left Ephesus just because Paul wrote to the church there. To successfully stand in their faith and against the evils around them, believers must pray. They must pray at all times. They must pray with perseverance. They must pray for one another. They must pray for those who lead and guide them. Ephesians 6:18 (Commentary) In Paul s instructions leading up to this verse, he directed Christians to stand their ground and to put on spiritual armor so they could be victorious as they engaged in spiritual warfare (vv ). The Greek word for prayer in this verse suggests talking with God in a way that includes components like praise, thanksgiving, intercession, confession, and adoration. Disciplined believers learn to engage in this kind of prayer at uninterrupted times during the day, perhaps early in the morning or late in the evening. In this verse, he connected consistent prayer with spiritual preparation for battle. Specifically, he called for his readers to: (Member Book pg. bullet points) o Pray at all times. Maintain a continuous dialog with God (see 1 Thess. 5:16). We should be aware that God is always accessible to us, and we should continually reach out to Him.

2 o Paul knew believers would tend to forget about prayer until a crisis brought them to their knees yet developing a lifestyle of consistent prayer would enable them to stay suited up with spiritual armor to face whatever came their way. o Pray in the Spirit. We are to communicate with God through the Holy Spirit s power. As we do so, the scope and variety of our communication should be wide enough to encompass every kind of need as we pray all kinds of prayers and present to God every request. o By being sensitive to the presence of the Holy Spirit, we learn how to be attentive to times when He nudges us to pray. He intends to guide us so we will know what to pray for and how to pray for it. In addition, He gives us His strength so we can keep on praying with spiritual vitality even when we grow weary. As we live with the awareness that the Holy Spirit is at work in us, we can grasp the inestimable value of His involvement in our prayer. o Pray with all perseverance. This means we don t intercede for others once or twice and then forget about it. We re encouraged to keep asking, keep seeking, and keep knocking (see Luke 11:9-10) because God honors our persistence. Mature Christians keep praying with no intention of giving up. o According to this verse, perseverance is particularly important in the ministry of intercession. When we intercede in prayer, we make a specific request to God on behalf of someone other than ourselves. When we take Paul s instruction about intercession seriously, we turn our attention away from our own needs. Instead, we focus our prayer on others. Paul encouraged believers to pray for all the saints, and he left no room for preferences when it comes to praying for other Christians. Group Question: How does the command to pray at all times influence our daily routines? The type of prayer Paul had in mind was intercession: praying for other believers. When we love our brothers and sisters in Christ, we actively want the best for them. We intercede for them through prayer because we believe there are no limits on what God can provide. Ephesians 6:19-20

3 (Notes from Commentary) Earlier in the letter, he noted that he was a prisoner (3:1; 4:1). After Paul s third missionary journey, he was seized in Jerusalem by Jewish worshipers before being taken into custody by the Romans. Pleading his case required him to be taken to Rome. Once he got there, he was under the supervision of a Roman guard while he awaited the opportunity to be brought before Caesar (Acts 28:16-20). By asking the Ephesian Christians to lift him up in prayer, he underscored his need for help from other believers and his confidence in the ministry of intercession. (Member Book pg. Paragraph 2) find it interesting that even Paul needed God s help to say the right words at the right time and to speak boldly. Paul believed God would act in response to the prayers of fellow Christians interceding on his behalf. Paul craved the prayers of his fellow church members. (Notes from Commentary) This verse challenges us to pray for our church leaders. As they boldly share the gospel of Christ, we do well to lift them up to the Lord consistently. The good news of Christ is a mystery to people who don t know Him personally. For that reason, it needs to be shared with everyone we encounter. People who have received Christ rejoice over the reality that the gift of salvation through Him no longer remains shrouded in mystery. Declaring the gospel with boldness provides an opportunity for others to experience the same joy. Praying for church leaders to be bold, therefore, stands out as an important way for us to minister to them as they serve the Lord. (Member book pg Paragraph 3) Spiritual leaders are prime targets for Satan s attacks. If he can bring leaders down, he can negatively impact others in the kingdom of God. Here are some practical suggestions for interceding on behalf of your pastors and other church leaders: o Pray for their preaching and teaching. Pray that God will give them wisdom, insight, and words to speak. o Pray for their families. Pastors often struggle with neglecting their families due to church demands. They agonize over criticism of their family. o Pray for protection. Ask God to strengthen church leaders against temptation toward greed, adultery, anger, and other sins the Devil would use to destroy their ministry.

4 o Pray for physical and mental health. Ask God to fill church leaders with wisdom and discernment so they can lead well and make sound decisions. (commentary based next part of the verse) Paul saw himself as an ambassador. Rome was visited by ambassadors from all over the world. They traveled to Rome regularly so they could do business on behalf of the nations they represented. Paul described himself as an ambassador from the kingdom of God who came to declare the good news of Christ to everyone who would listen. In his role as ambassador, he noted one obvious difference. Other ambassadors enjoyed the privileges of diplomatic immunity as the traveled freely in and around Rome. But Paul was different. As an ambassador from God s kingdom, he was in chains. Amazingly, Paul saw this as an opportunity to share Christ. Accordingly, he asked the Ephesian Christians to pray for him as he carried out his kingdom assignment. Group Question: What keeps us from being more aware of our church leaders prayer needs? Ephesians 6:21-22 (Member book pg. 1 st Paragraph) Paul s request for prayer was a common theme in his letters to the early churches. (See Rom. 15:30; Col. 4:3-4; and 2 Thess. 3:1-2). And if Paul needed prayer to participate in the mission of the church, surely you and I can benefit by praying for the members of our churches and by asking them to pray for us. Maybe you re wondering: How can I know what to pray for when I m interceding for others? The answer is that you must make an effort to stay abreast of how you can pray for your fellow church members. In fact, that s one of your responsibilities as a church member. Group Questions: Where do we draw the line between seeking how to pray for others and sniffing for gossip? (Notes from Commentary) We re introduced to Tychicus in Acts 20:4. Luke included his name in a list of missionaries who accompanied Paul on his third missionary journey. Paul mentioned Tychicus four times in his epistles (Eph. 6:21; Col. 4:7; 2 Tim. 4:12; Titus 3:12). Paul gave the distinct impression that Tychicus was a dependable co-laborer in Christ and a valued friend in kingdom work.

5 Paul entrusted Tychicus with the responsibility of delivering his letter to the Ephesian church. Along with the letter, Tychicus would tell them all the news going on with Paul. Obviously, Paul wanted to make sure his Christian friends had the correct facts and most recent update. However, Paul chose to keep his epistle focused on the purpose he had in mind for writing it. He decided to enlist Tychicus to give his Christian friends the complete account of his activities when he delivered the epistle. (Quote on the back pg ) "Because my pastor cannot do all things in his own power, I will pray for his strength and wisdom daily." Thom Rainer, I am a Church Member LIVE IT OUT (pg. ) God works through the prayers of His people. Therefore, consider these practical ways to pray for your brothers and sisters in Christ: o Pray for salvation. Many people miss the benefits of church membership because they are not part of the church. Pray for the salvation of at least one person who needs it. o Pray for church leaders. Commit to pray five minutes each day for your pastor(s) and church leaders. (Note: this works best when you ask them for prayer requests.) o Become educated about at least one missionary s needs. Pray for that missionary and his or her work every day for at least one month. Prayer grants us access to the power and presence of God. When we believe that, I ll pray for you becomes a solemn responsibility and a life-changing promise within the body of Christ.

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