May 21, 2017 – Ephesians 3:13-19

Lesson Date: May 21, 2017

Focal Scripture Passage: Ephesians 3:13-19

AIM: To lead students to discover the things Paul prayed for those he loved, and to use Paul’s prayer as a guideline in praying for others.

 

Before class: Read the notes on Ephesians 3:13-19 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book. Get enough copies of the “Prayer Guide” handouts (attached) for your anticipated attendance.

 

INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Read the following brief story to the class:

Jane and Amy were close friends. One day, Amy asked Jane to pray for her, and Jane agreed. Later that day, Jane remembered to pray for Amy. She bowed her head and prayed: “Lord, please bless Amy. Please help her and take care of her. In Jesus’ name, Amen.” As Jane raised her head and opened her eyes, she realized that her prayer was rather general. She thought to herself, “I don’t really know how to pray for my friend.”

Ask the students if they can identify with the feeling Jane experienced. Often we don’t know how to pray for one another. Draw a vertical line down the center of the marker board or chalkboard, creating two columns. Lead the class to brainstorm this question: “When we gather to pray, what types of requests do people make?” Write on the right side of the board the answers the members give. After they have named all the types of prayer requests they can think of, read the list you have made on the board. Ask: “How many of these types of requests are for physical needs? How many are for spiritual needs?”

Tell the class today’s scripture passage contains a prayer the Apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, prayed for the Ephesian Christians.

 

HEART OF THE LESSON (Bible Study):

  1. Review.
    • Remind the class that we are studying the New Testament book of Ephesians.
    • Tell them the Apostle Paul wrote the letter to the church at Ephesus while he was a prisoner in Rome (locate Ephesus and Rome on the map).
    • Ask: “What was chapter 1 about?” (the role of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit in our salvation).
    • Ask: “What was chapter 2 about?” (God’s plan of salvation and the uniting of saved Jews and saved Gentiles into one new body, the New Testament church.).
    • Read Ephesians 3:1-7.
    • Ask: “What was the mystery that we learned about two weeks ago?” (that the Gentile believers were fellow heirs, part of the same body, and partakers of the same promises with the Jewish Christians).
    • Read Ephesians 3:8-12.
    • Ask: “What is the eternal purpose of the church, that we learned about last week?” (the church reveals the wisdom of God to the angels).
  2. Paul’s Concern Moved Him to Pray.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Ephesians 3:13.
    • Ask: “What was Paul’s desire for the Ephesians?” (that they not become discouraged because of his tribulations).
    • Ask: “What kind of tribulations was Paul experiencing?” (he was in prison for preaching the gospel).
    • Read Ephesians 3:14.
    • Ask: “What did Paul’s concern for the believers in Ephesus cause him to do?” (pray for them).
    • Tell the class that we ought to pray for others.
    • Ask: “Who did Paul pray to?” (“the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”).
    • Comment that many people believe in prayer, but prayers to ANYONE other than the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ are useless and will go unanswered. Some people mistakenly pray to their ancestors or to other humans whom they call saints, but true and effective prayer is to the God of the Bible.
    • Read Ephesians 3:15.
    • Tell the class that those who are in Christ are one family, bearing the family name Christian. We have been placed in this new family through adoption (Eph. 1:5). Those who are not Christians are NOT part of God’s family.
    • Tell them “the whole family in heaven and earth” refers to all the redeemed, including those now living and those already dead.
  3. Paul’s Prayer for the Ephesian Christians.
    • Tell the class verses 14-15 introduced the prayer. We will now discover the content of Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian believers.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Ephesians 3:16-19.
    • Without erasing the things written on the right side of the board in the introductory step, number from 1 to 5 down the left side of the board.
    • Tell the class that there are five elements of this prayer.
      • The first is found in verse 16.
        • Ask: “What did Paul pray for the Ephesian Christians?” (that their “inner man” would be strengthened by God’s Spirit).
        • Write that on the board.
        • Explain that the inner man refers to the spiritual part of the believer.
      • The second element of the prayer is found in the first half of verse 17.
        • Ask: “What did Paul pray for the Ephesian Christians?” (that they would live in such a way that Jesus was at home in their hearts).
        • Write that on the board.
        • Explain that the word dwell carries the idea of being “at home” somewhere.
        • The Spirit of Christ comes to live within the believer from the moment he or she is saved, but the Lord is “at home” in a heart that is kept pure by obeying God.
      • The third element of Paul’s prayer is found in the last half of verse 17.
        • Ask: “What did Paul pray for the Ephesian Christians?” (that they would be firmly established in love).
        • Write that on the board.
        • Ask: “What do the words rooted and grounded bring to your mind?” (a strong and unmovable tree).
      • The fourth element of Paul’s prayer begins in verse 18 and continues through the first half of verse 19.
        • Ask: “What did Paul pray for the Ephesian Christians?” (that they would be able to comprehend the vastness of Christ’s love for them).
        • Write that on the board.
        • Note that in verse 18 Paul used words we usually use in describing an object: breadth, length, depth, and height.
        • Ask: “Why do you think he used those words?”
      • The fifth element of the prayer is found in the last half of verse 19.
        • Ask: “What did Paul pray for the Ephesian Christians?” (that they would be filled with the fullness of God).
        • Write that on the board.
        • Explain that when we are “filled with all the fullness of God” we want to do what pleases the Lord, not what pleases our flesh.
  • Tell the class the ultimate goal of Paul’s prayer for the saints at Ephesus was that they would be completely yielded to the Lord Jesus Christ and entirely under His control.

 

PERSONAL APPLICATION: Re-read each of the five elements of Paul’s prayer. After each element, ask: “What does that mean to you?” Allow time for some discussion.

Ask members to look at the board and compare the things the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to pray (left side) with the things we usually pray (right side). While we should pray about physical needs, this exercise emphasizes the fact that we usually pray about physical needs to the exclusion of spiritual needs. Tell them we need to include some of those spiritual matters in our prayers.

Ask everyone to bow their head and close their eyes. Tell them to silently pray those five things for themselves, as you voice them. Close your prayer.

 

CONCLUSION: Give everyone a copy of the “Prayer Guide” handout and encourage them to use Paul’s prayer as a model when they pray for others this week. Ask them to read Ephesians 3:20-21 every day this week and to do the learning activities in their Sunday School Member Quarterly on Saturday.

Be sure everyone receives a quarterly for the summer quarter. During the summer months we will continue our in-depth study of the book of Ephesians, learning about how to live out our salvation.

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