Last month I asked two question in our prayer inventory based on Ephesians 3:14-21. The first question was, “Why am I praying?” Paul said, “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father.” We discovered that “cause” spelled out at the end of chapter 2–it’s the building of the Church. When you and I pray, we must not pray selfishly and think only of ourselves and our families or our churches. We must rather think of the whole temple of God that is being built today. Why am I praying? It’s for the building of the Church.
Anything that we need to help God build His Church, He will give us. It has well been said, “Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance; prayer is laying hold of God’s willingness.” When you discover what it is that God wants to do, and you pray in the light of what He is doing, He will give you everything that you need.
The second question was, “How am I praying?” This is found in Ephesians 3:14: “I bow my knees.” We discovered that Paul did not come as a master telling God what to do. Paul came as a submissive child, a part of the family of God, talking to his Heavenly Father.
It is a beautiful experience to know that your Father loves you. When you come to pray, you don’t come to one who is selfish, one who wants to hold on to all that He has. You come to a generous, gracious, loving, merciful Father in heaven. How He enjoys to have His children come in faith and in love.
“I bow my knees.” There is no need for us to fight with God. Anyone who fights with God is going to lose the battle. God will break him as He broke Jacob. God will have to deal with him. Don’t come telling God what to do; come submitted to Him, bowed before the Father.
Now we will consider a third question–“For what am I praying?” This is spelled out in verses 10 through 19 of Ephesians 3. There are some basic requests that Paul makes. He prays for spiritual strength (verse 16), for spiritual depth (verse 17), for spiritual perspective (verse 18), and for spiritual fullness (verse 19).
The Greatest Need
Did you notice that Paul is praying about spiritual needs? So much of our praying focuses on the material and the physical. Let me say that it is not unscriptural to pray about material or physical needs. In the Lord’s Prayer we are encouraged to ask for our daily bread. It is not wrong to pray for food and raiment. It is not wrong to pray about money to pay the bills. In my own life and ministry I have seen God do wonderful things as we have prayed about material needs.
Nor is it wrong to pray about physical matters, such as healing. Paul did not neglect the outer man. I’m sure that when Paul spent a night and a day in the deep, he was praying about physical needs! I’m sure that when he experienced whippings, he was praying about those physical needs. He prayed for sick people who needed to be made well.
I have prayed about the physical needs of my own body and about the needs of others. As a pastor, I have many, many times been in sick rooms and hospital rooms, and we have prayed and asked God for strength for the body. It is right to pray about material things and it is right to pray about physical things, but these are not the greatest needs. Our greatest needs are spiritual.
What good is a healthy body if the inner man is not what he ought to be? What good is it to have money to spend on material goods if we don’t know how to use them? If God gave me material blessings and physical blessings, but I was not spiritual enough to know how to use them, it would be a waste.
God is concerned about your body, but He is more concerned about the inner man that controls the body. The material blessings and physical blessings of life must be matched by the spiritual blessings. There must be Christian character. The inner man must be growing and becoming more like the Lord Jesus; then God can trust us with the material and physical blessings of life.
(First appeared in the Good News Broadcaster. All rights reserved, copyright Warren W. Wiersbe.)
Dr. Warren Wiersbe (1929-2019) was an internationally known Bible teacher, author, and conference speaker. He graduated in 1953 from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Lombard, Illinois. While attending seminary, he was ordained as pastor of Central Baptist Church in 1951 and served until 1957. From September 1957 to 1961, Wiersbe served as Director of The Literature Division for Youth for Christ International. From 1961 to 1971 he pastored Calvary Baptist Church of Covington, Kentucky south of Cincinnati, Ohio. His sermons were broadcast as the “Calvary Hour” on a local Cincinnati radio station. From 1971 to 1978, He served as the pastor of Moody Church in Chicago 1971 to 1978. While at Moody Church he continued in radio ministry. Between August 1979 and March 1982, he wrote bi-weekly for Christianity Today as “Eutychus X”, taught practical theology classes at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and wrote the course material and taught a Doctor of Ministry course at Trinity and Dallas Seminary. In 1980 he transitioned to Back to the Bible radio broadcasting network where he worked until 1990. Dr. Wiersbe became Writer in Residence at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids and Distinguished Professor of Preaching at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. In his lifetime, Dr. Wiersbe wrote over 170 books—including the popular Be series, which has sold over four million copies. Dr. Wiersbe was awarded the Gold Medallion Lifetime Achievement by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA).