August 27, 2017 – Ephesians 6:18-24
Lesson Date: August 27, 2017
Focal Scripture Passage: Ephesians 6:18-24
AIM: To lead students to create a list of the things for which Paul requested prayers, and to privately evaluate their prayer life to determine if they are praying for the right kinds of things.
Before class: Read the notes on Ephesians 6:18-24 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book. Write the following scripture references on index cards or small pieces of paper: 2 Corinthians 5:18-20; Philippians 1:12; Philippians 1:18; Colossians 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 5:17. Ask some class members who are comfortable reading aloud to look up the verses and be prepared to read them to the class when called upon.
INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Ask the students if they have any prayer requests to share with the group. As each request is given, write it on the left side of the marker board or chalkboard. After a number of requests have been shared, mention to the class that there are Christians in many parts of the world who suffer from persecution. Ask: “What should we pray for those persecuted Christians?” Lead the class in prayer for the requests they named and for persecuted Christians.
Tell the class that prayer is very important. We usually include prayer in all of our Sunday School class sessions and worship services. We pray before our meals and we pray privately in our homes. Ask: “Have you ever wondered if we pray for the right kinds of things?” Ask: “If the Apostle Paul were attending our Sunday School class this morning and we called on him to pray, what do you think he would pray for?” Tell the students these are the types of questions we will deal with in today’s lesson.
HEART OF THE LESSON (Bible Study):
- Tell the class this is our final lesson from the New Testament book of Ephesians. Locate Ephesus on the map.
- Remind the class that the Lord inspired the Apostle Paul to devote the first three chapters of Ephesians to doctrines related to salvation and the church, and the last three chapters to telling how Christians ought to live.
- Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (the Christian’s armor).
- Ask if any volunteers can name the six pieces of Christian armor.
- Ask the students if they remembered to claim that armor each day this week, and what difference it made in their lives.
- Remind them that we put on those pieces of Christian armor through prayer. Today’s lesson is about prayer.
- The Proper Attitude for Prayer.
- Ask a volunteer to read Ephesians 6:18.
- Ask: “How often are we told to pray?” (always).
- Ask: “Does this mean we must continually stay on our knees with our head bowed and eyes closed?” (no, doing so would prevent us from fulfilling the other commands of scripture, such as witnessing to lost people or walking worthy of the Lord).
- Explain that we should live in an attitude of prayer, maintaining constant communication with the Lord.
- Ask the previously enlisted volunteer to read 1 Thessalonians 5:17.
- Ask everyone to look back at verse 18.
- Ask: “What does this verse say should be our attitude in prayer?” (watchful with all perseverance).
- Tell the class that we should pray faithfully, persistently, and with an alert
- Last week we learned that Christians are “soldiers” involved in a spiritual warfare. Soldiers who are faithful, persistent, and alert have a much better chance of surviving and winning than those who are lazy, unreliable, and inattentive to their circumstances.
- The Proper Focus for Prayer.
- Remind the class that Paul was a prisoner in Rome at the time he wrote this letter to the Ephesians. He wasn’t free and he faced the possibility of execution at any time.
- Ask: “If you were a prisoner, what would you ask us to pray for you?” (that you would be released from prison, that you would be treated well, etc.).
- Read Ephesians 6:19-20.
- Ask: “What did Paul ask the Ephesians to pray for him?” (that he would have opportunity and boldness to proclaim the gospel).
- Paul recognized that he was an “ambassador” for Christ, even though he was a prisoner.
- Ask the previously enlisted volunteer to read 2 Corinthians 5:18-20.
- Tell the students we, like the Apostle Paul, are ambassadors for Christ. Regardless of our present circumstances, we should ask the Lord to give us opportunities to boldly tell the gospel of Jesus Christ to those around us.
- Remind the class that Paul had a lot he could complain about, then ask: “Do you ever complain about your circumstances? If things don’t turn out the way you want, do you ever mope and whine? If you were tuned down for a job promotion, would you get angry with God and become bitter?”
- Tell the class those are natural reactions, but the Christian ought to try to see his or her circumstances as opportunities.
- Ask the previously enlisted volunteers to read Colossians 4:3; Philippians 1:12; and Philippians 1:18.
- Those verses show that Paul understood God had a bigger purpose for his life than his personal comfort.
- Stress the fact that the same is true in our lives.
- God is far more interested in working out His redemptive plan through our lives than He is in our personal comfort, health, or happiness.
- He has a plan for our lives and that plan probably includes some degree of suffering.
- As we learned a few moments ago, we are to be ambassadors for Jesus Christ.
- That is true regardless of our circumstances.
- Ask: “Do most of your prayers focus on the furtherance of the gospel or on your personal comfort and happiness?”
- The Proper Follow-up for Prayer.
- Ask: “Has anyone ever asked you to pray about a certain situation, but never reported back to you to tell you what happened?”
- Tell the class when we ask others to pray for us we ought to let them know how things turned out. Such follow-up reports encourage and give guidance as to how to continue praying about the matter.
- Explain that the next verses tell how Paul was going to give a follow-up report to the Ephesians, whom he asked to pray for him.
- Read Ephesians 6:21-22.
- Tell the students Paul was sending a friend named Tychicus to Ephesus to update the Ephesians on his situation.
- Ask everyone to look at the last phrase of verse 22.
- Ask: “What would Tychicus’ news do for the Ephesians?” (comfort their hearts).
- Tell the class that even though Paul was in prison, he was concerned that the Ephesian believers might become discouraged. In other words, he was more concerned with others than with himself!
- Tell the class the last two verses of the chapter form a benediction or closing to the letter. They also reveal some of what Paul was praying for the Ephesian believers.
- Ask a volunteer to read Ephesians 6:23-24.
- Ask: “What are some things Paul prayed for the Ephesians?” (that they would experience God’s peace, love, faith, and grace).
- Those are things we ought to pray for others.
PERSONAL APPLICATION: Ask the students to skim back through the verses they have studied today, looking for the things Paul prayed. Draw a vertical line on the board, creating two columns. The prayer requests members shared at the beginning of the class session should be in the left column. Ask the students to name Paul’s prayer requests. As they do, write them in the right column.
Compare the two lists of prayer requests. Ask: “What is the difference between our prayer requests and Paul’s prayer requests?” (the requests the students gave are probably about physical needs and relief from difficult circumstances, while Paul’s requests were about faithfully and boldly representing Jesus Christ in the midst of his difficult circumstances). Ask: “How do our prayer requests ‘measure up’ to Paul’s?” (ours look pretty selfish compared to Paul’s).
Tell the class the point of this lesson is that our praying is usually pretty shallow. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pray for physical needs, but it means that our praying shouldn’t stop with only praying for physical needs. Ask: “How is this lesson going to change the way you pray this week?”
Lead a closing prayer. Pray for your class members, using Ephesians 6:19-20 as a guide.
CONCLUSION: Be sure that everyone present has a copy of the Sunday School Member Quarterly for the Fall quarter. Express your excitement about the upcoming Survey of Bible Doctrine. Encourage them to start their Daily Bible Readings tomorrow.
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