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This powerful series will challenge you to understand your role in the body of Christ. Through the book of Ephesians, Pastor Philip will remind us of the joy and blessings God intends for believers to experience in the church as they live as a united family in Christ.
More From This Series
Well, let’s take our Bibles and turn to Ephesians chapter 3:14-21. It’s a message we called the Big Ask. This is our third exposition on this passage. We started to look at the text of Ephesians 3:14-21. In last week we got sidetracked, went on a bit of a digression, which Paul does in chapter three. Since we’re being asked to expect God to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we can ask or think, I tried to answer the question, but God hasn’t answered what I’ve asked and he hasn’t done it abundantly.
We dealt with the whole issue of unanswered prayer and I know that that was a blessing. I got some text and emails to the office and I’m glad to know that that little excursion was worth the trip and it was a blessing to you. But we’re returning this week. Then when I’m back in the pulpit, wrapping up a four-part sermon on this wonderful model prayer of the Apostle Paul. Stand in honor of God’s word. We’ll read it together, get our bearings. It’s Ephesians 3:14.
This is Paul’s second if not fourth prayer for the Ephesians. He says this, for this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named. That he would grant you according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might through his spirit in the inner man. That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, that you being rooted and grounded in love may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height.
To know the love of Christ which passes knowledge that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now unto him, who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us. To him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. You may be seated. One of the best ways to learn to pray is to listen to others praying. Let me say that again.
One of the best ways to learn to pray is to listen to others praying. If there’s any depth or substance to my prayer life, I would have to say that’s been true for me. I learned to pray by listening to others pray. I learned at my mother’s knee. I learned that my father’s side, as I heard both of them pray for our family, for me. I learned on a Sunday morning as the pastor at Rathkeale Baptist would do the pastoral prayer. I listened to the tone and I listened to the things he prayed for and how he addressed God.
I learned from a man of God. I learned not only from my parents and from my leaders, I learned from just fellow saints. In the little Baptist church I grew up in there was a Wednesday prayer meeting and Bible study and I went there within days and weeks of my conversion and I was very hesitant to pray and I didn’t pray for a while. I just listened and learned. I learned to listen to men like Albert Moreland and Ernie Armstrong and Joe law.
I aspired to pray like they prayed. I listened and I learned. Then one day I just jumped into the deep end and prayed in the public prayer meeting. One of the best ways to learn to pray is to listen to others pray. We’re coming back to one of the great prayers of the New Testament. Some believe it may be Paul’s greatest prayer. Ephesians 3:14-21. We’ve already taken two stabs at it and we’ll take two more to try and understand it and then by God’s grace undertake it.
If you remember our outline, we’ve broken this prayer up under several headings. Number one, the prompt. For this reason I bow my knees. Paul’s admitting that he’s praying for them out of the joy and the understanding that God has brought Jew and Gentile together within the church. Something unique, something historic, something hitherto unknown in the Old Testament and they are one in Christ. Now he prays that they would grow in their love for one another through growing in their experience of God’s love for them.
There’s the prompt and there was the posture. I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. We looked at the different postures in the Bible and ultimately we saw that the Bible doesn’t come down in anyone’s side of that argument. Some stand, some sit, some kneel. But it is interesting if you look at the book of Ephesians, there are several spiritual postures. Paul was once dead in sin like the Ephesians, but God had made him alive in Jesus Christ and he had raised him to sit in the heavenlies with Jesus.
There’s one posture sitting and then he goes on to talk about in verse one of chapter four that we need to walk worthy of the Lord. That’s another posture, walking. Then you get into chapter six and he’s standing in the evil day against the attacks and barbs of the evil one. They’re standing. But you’ll find in between all the sitting and all the walking and all the standing, there’s kneeling. There’s this committing of his life and their lives to God in prayer. The posture, the prompt.
Let’s pick up on a third thought, what I call the passion. Here I’m reading between the lines to some degree. It’s more implicit than explicit. But the posture I’m talking about is Paul’s heart to pray for them. His willingness to put the needs of others before his own needs. Because if you read this prayer, you’re going to see there’s not a smidgen, there’s not a syllable of self-focus, self-interest or self-concern. Notice the language he prays for the family of God in verse 15.
He prays about all the saints in verse 18. He prays about the church being a platform for the glory of God in Jesus Christ to all generations. That’s his passion. He’s got a heart to intercede and bleed before the throne of grace for others. May that challenge you and me. You listen to Paul praying here and you can find them praying in Philippians and Colossians and 1 Thessalonians. You’re going to find as Oswald Chambers talks about in his book on prayer that Paul prayed with an understanding full of Christ.
He prayed unceasingly. He prayed with thanksgiving. He prayed with a heart of affection and sincerity of spirit. He was ambitious and covetous that they would grow in knowledge and their experience of God. He was strenuous, he worked at it. He was fervent at it. The other thing that Oswald Chambers points out is he’s unselfish. Again, no smidgen, no syllable of self-focus, self-interest, self-concern. Now, could Paul pray for himself?
Yes, Paul has prayed for himself. In fact, he invites them to pray for himself. There’s a place to petition God about what is on your heart. Your kitchen table issues, your circumstance in life. Go ahead and pray that way. God encourages you to petition to ask personal needs to be met. But you’ve got to balance in your prayer life, this opportunity to petition on your own behalf with intercession or petition on others’ behalf.
Prayer must never be us selfishly grabbing the microphone with little concern for others. I like the story of Uncle Irv who was not noted for his religious devotion. He was a businessman and he was three million dollars short of what he needed for a lifetime real estate deal. He decided to go down to the local synagogue to pray for the money. When he got down there and joined that congregation, he was beside a man who himself was praying and he was praying audibly for $100.
He needed $100. Uncle Irv pulls $100 out of his pocket, gives it to the man in answer to his prayer, and the man receives it gratefully and leaves the synagogue. Uncle Irv turns his head toward heaven and says, “Lord, now that I’ve got your undivided attention.” Well, we don’t want to be doing that. We don’t go to God and elbow people out of the way away. First of all, you don’t need to do that because God can hold a thousand thoughts in his head in a millisecond.
He’s omniscient. But the whole purpose of prayer isn’t just you, it’s them, it’s others. Paul exemplifies that. Prayer isn’t always to be a solo, it’s to be a duet as you pray with and for others. It’s been well said that intercessory prayer might be defined as loving your neighbor on your knees. That’s good. Paul exemplifies that passion here. He prays for the whole family of God. He prays for all the saints at Ephesus. He prays for the church in that city and even generations to come.
Now let’s run with this just for a minute. This idea of intercession. I want you to think about it. I want to be challenged by it. Number one, let’s think about the picture, the picture of intercession. We’re not going to turn there, but write down Exodus 28:16-21. There you’ll find the description of the high priest’s breastplate. Exodus 28:16-21. It’s a breastplate that the high priest wore close to his heart and on that breastplate was what?
12 jewels that were embedded on the breastplate each representing one of the tribes of Israel, the 12 tribes of Israel. The picture is that this man who represents the people of God before God goes into God’s presence with this breastplate representing the 12 tribes of Israel that are precious to God like a jewel. Isn’t that a beautiful picture? Remember this, according to Revelation 1:6, because of God’s love, we have been made a kingdom of priests.
Do you realize even as a Protestant you’re in the priesthood? You and I are in the priesthood. We are to represent God before others and we are to represent others before God. 1 Peter 2:9 says that we are a holy nation and a royal priesthood. Ask yourself, just take a sample of your prayers recently, has it been all petition? Has it all been me, my and mine? Or are you wearing the breastplate? Are you carrying some of God’s children or neighbors or workmates on your heart before God?
Praying for their salvation, praying for their protection, praying for some family situation they are in. Number two, the pattern of intercession. We’re going again on a little bit of an excursion. There’s no greater pattern than the great high priest himself. You’ve got this beautiful picture from the Levitical priesthood, but we’ve got this wonderful pattern from the great high priest himself, the Lord Jesus. Notice it says in Romans 8:35 and Hebrews 9:24, that the Lord Jesus has passed into heaven for us.
What a verse. What’s Jesus doing now? He’s praying for you and yours and your needs and your context. He’s praying for this church and our future and our faithfulness to the gospel and sacrificial discipleship. That’s what he’s doing. He’s making intercession for us. Think about this. Think about the life of the Lord Jesus. Think about John 17 and just hours before the cross, he prays for his people. He prays for the disciples.
He prays for those who would believe on him through the disciples. He prays that they would be one. He prays that God would keep them in the world, but away from the evil one who rules the world. He prays that they would follow the mission of going into all the world and preaching the gospel. Think of John 17, hours before the cross. Think of Luke 23, while Jesus was on the cross in the middle of his own pain and desolation and isolation.
Bearing our sin, feeling the word of God’s wrath appointed for us. Now, I transferred to him. Father, forgive them for they know not what they do. It’s others, isn’t it? Hey, John, from now on treat Mary like your own mother. Take care of her. In his dying breath, he had a concern for the welfare possibly of his widowed mother, Mary. You get the point. We are never more Christ-like than when we engage in heartfelt intercession.
Remember this, that when you’re interceding for others, you’re joining your intercession for others with his intercession for us. He makes our prayers powerful. We don’t pray in isolation. Listen to the great Puritan Thomas Brooks. God’s hearing of our prayers doth not depend upon sanctification, but upon Christ’s, intercession. Not upon what we are in ourselves but upon what we are in him. Both our persons and our prayers are acceptable in the beloved.
Isn’t that beautiful? By the way, talking about Jesus as a pattern, didn’t he give us a pattern? The disciples said, Lord, we want to pray better. We want to pray bigger. Teach us. He does. He says, okay, here’s a pattern. I want you to pray between these lines like a child coloring between the lines of a coloring in book. Here’s the outline of true prayer. Pray like this, and they do that. Have you ever noticed about the Lord’s prayer that it’s not about petition, it’s about intercession?
It’s described in the plural, our Father. It’s to be prayed in the company of other Christians, best. Forgive us our debts as we forgive others our debtors. Philip Graham Ryken has a beautiful little poem in one of his books on the Lord’s prayer. You cannot pray the Lord’s prayer and even one say I, you cannot say the Lord’s prayer and even one say my. Nor can you pray the Lord’s prayer and not pray for another. For when you ask for bread, you must include your brother.
For others are included in each and every plea from the beginning to the end of it. It never says me. What about the power of prayer by intercession? We’ve looked at the picture, the Old Testament high priest. We’ve looked at the pattern of the great high priest and I want you to see the power of intercession. Intercession makes a difference because prayer makes a difference. The fervent prayer of a righteous man accomplishes much.
James 5. Now again, we’re going to go to the book of Exodus chapter 17:12 in our minds. Because That’s the scene of Israel fighting the Amalekites down in the valley. It’s a battle scene. It’s a military conflict. But up on an elevation Moses is praying. If you read the story Act 17:12, as Moses prays, they win. Here’s a good reminder. The real fight in your life, whether it’s to do with temptation, your family, your work, your context, the real fight in your life is not on the battlefield.
It’s away from the battlefield. It’s in the heights of prayer. Because that’s what’s going on here. Prayer and intercession is the real weapon in our warfare. From the story that Moses gets tired and Aaron and Aaron come alongside and they hold his arms up. Because when his arms go down, Israel recedes and they begin to lose the battle. When his arms go up and an intercession, they march forward. Just understand the power of intercession, a flourishing family, a prosperous life, a healthy church, a move of God within history.
I’ll guarantee you can trace it to a kneeling figure somewhere. Away from the spotlight, away from the action so to speak, praying. The night I got saved, the end of January 1978. Went home to tell my parents who were in bed. There was a lot of tears, a lot of joy. We all headed to bed. But breakfast wasn’t finished the next morning when my father said to me, “You need to call two women in the church, Ms. Houston and Mrs. Price.”
I said, “Why?” To which he said, and my mother echoed that truth. “Because those women prayed for you every single Wednesday night when you were out and about in trouble and your soccer games on a Saturday. It looked like you were getting further and further away from the Lord, those women prayed every Wednesday night.” Sea of Philip, wherever he is tonight, keep him from getting into too much trouble. Send your angels to watch over him as one of the elect.
I did call those women and I thanked them. Then within a week or two of my salvation, I was at prayer meeting and I could hear them praying for others. It’s the power of intercession, the power of prayer. The real fight is away from the battlefield. What about finally the particulars? The particulars about intercession. I would go to 1 Timothy 2:1. Paul says this, therefore I exhort first of all that supplications and prayers, listen, intercessions and giving of thanks be made for all men.
Wow, that’s broad. Talk about painting with a broad brush. That’s for all people, near and far, unknown and known, Christian and unchristian, friend and enemy. In every country, every circumstance, every continent. You’ve got to take a run at that, you’ve got to bite that apple and start to pray for people. All kinds of people. Pick a country, pick people you know and don’t know. Pick people near and far. Pick people that are Christians and non-Christians.
Friends and enemies and start getting a list of people and countries and things you’re praying for. That’s the particulars. It’s broad, it’s sweeping. Pray for your marriage. Pray for the fact you want to get married and haven’t met Mr. Right or Mrs. Right yet. Pray for your family, your mom and dad, your brothers and sisters. Pray for your husband, your wife. Pray for your wider family, uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews. Have you got a list?
Pray for the family of God, the church, your brothers and sisters in Christ. Pray for those church leaders over the family who’ve got a target on their back. Pray for a small group, pray for those in need. Pray for your workmates. Pray for your boss who you don’t like and he doesn’t like you. Pray for mission partners. Have you grabbed the cards any Sunday and just prayed over them? Our missionaries in Europe and South America and Russia, Africa, India, Ireland.
Maybe the Lord put that on your heart just to really focus on one or two of those. Pray about your neighborhood, the schools, what’s being taught in the libraries. Pray for law enforcement, doctors, nurses, universities. All impacts the quality of life. Pray for our country. Pray for our country. Pray for nations. I was telling the guys yesterday just on that last thing, in fact, Paul tells us here, pray for kings and all in authority.
When we were in Israel on our second trip from Kindred, I got the unique opportunity for praying for someone with great authority. It was during the Trump administration. Our team had been led by Gary Fraser of Discovery Tours out of Dallas. On the day that everybody was heading down to the Red Sea to rub some mud in their face and get dirty, we were offered the possibility of myself, another guy and Gary going down to Tel Aviv and meeting the ambassador to Israel from the United States.
Gary had some political contacts and he said, “Would you like to do that?” I said, “I’d love to do that.” I didn’t want to roll in the mud. I want to go down and talk to the Ambassador. His name was David Friedman. He was a Jew from New York, very wealthy businessman that President Trump had picked and he was leading the charge on moving the embassy to Jerusalem and all kinds of interesting things were going on when we were there.
Remember asking him, “Do you think you’ll move the embassy?” He said, “I think we will.” They’ve told President Trump he can’t do it. That means he’s going to do it. We started just talking and conflabbing and towards the end, Gary Frazier said to David Friedman the Ambassador, “Mr. Ambassador, could Philip pray for you?” In some way I had anticipated that possibility. I’d crafted praying for Jerusalem according to the book of Psalms.
I thought, this is a Jewish man. I decided to pray completely out of the Old Testament. I was able to pray the gospel out of the Old Testament because the gospel was in the Old Testament, so I prayed that he would live up to his name and be a man after God’s heart like King David. I prayed that he would be like Nehemiah rebuilding the fortunes of the state of Israel. I prayed that he’d be like Esther, come to a kingdom for such a time as this and move the embassy like every American president had said, but didn’t have the guts to do.
Then I prayed too that he would come to know the one who was wounded for his transgressions and bruised for his iniquities. The one of whom Isaiah spoke the son of man, son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. Wow. He was moved, genuinely moved. He did say to me he thought it was cool that Braveheart would pray for him. We had a little bit of fun. Wonderful man. I’ve seen him on television and I prayed for him since. When he moved the embassy a few months later I texted Gary Fraser and Rich Riddle and I said, “Guys, I’m claiming credit.
I was in Tel Aviv prayed for the ambassador he’d have courage. He did it.” Gary Fraser texted it back, “You might want to read the story of Nebuchadnezzar.” Duly rebuked, I accepted that. Give God the glory. He loves his ancient people. You know what, before we leave this thought of intercession, the passion with which Paul prays here for others, there’s no self-concern. There’s no self-focus. He could petition, but he’s not. It’s all intercession.
Maybe one of the ways you and I could touch people’s lives. One of the ways we could build bridges and pull down walls. Wait for that moment, but be ready for that moment out there. When you get into conversation with someone and they’re hurting and they’re struggling, why don’t you say, can I pray for you? Can I pray for you and then pray for them. Pray lovingly, pray Biblically, it might just change your life because I thought about it this week.
My mother was brought to Christ hearing Christians pray. She grew up in the church, but it was one of those churches where it was bells and smells and robes and tradition and it was empty and it was cold. Then a friend asked her to go to a little Pentecostal church to a prayer meeting of all things. When’s the last time you invited an unsaved person to a prayer meeting? There my mother heard people pray. She told me to my face one day, she says, “That’s what turned my life around.”
She says, “Philip, I wanted to know God that way. I wanted to be able to call him Father with such warmth and intimacy.” Prayer is a powerful witness in any form. I love the story of the atheist who told the Christian, “You know what? God doesn’t exist.” To which the Christian replied, “That’s funny. I was talking to him this morning.” Okay, the patriarchy, the prompt, the posture, the passion, the patriarchy. Verse 14 and 15.
For this reason, I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is near. There’s the patriarchy, the fatherhood of God. Now this is somewhat of a tricky verse. There’s a few translations of it. The King James here has from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named. If you’ve got an NASB or an ESV, it’s translated from whom every family on heaven and earth is named. It’s a little tricky.
You could take that first path and see it as referring to the fact that God is the Father and progenitor of all born again believers throughout history, including those who are dead and in heaven. Including those who are alive and on earth. But together, we’re the whole family of God and we’ve come to experience what John describes in 1 John 3:1. Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us that we should be called the children of God.
Ephesians 1:5, in an act of grace, when we put our faith in Jesus Christ, God adopts us into his family. That was his intention from eternity past and by his grace and sovereign will, he brought it about. Well, we love our Father in heaven, don’t we? Who sent his son from heaven to die on a cross for us who don’t deserve that kind of love? That’s one way of understanding the text. But if you take the NASB or the ESV, another way to understand the text is this, I bow my knees to the Father from whom every family is named.
Harold Hohner, very, very good Exegete takes that position. Taught at Dallas Theological Seminary, one of his companies, one of the ones I use a lot in this series. I want to quote him now, listen to these words. “Paul is not saying that God is the father of all, but rather he is the prototype of all fatherhood.” Father is derived from God, not man. He is the first Father, the only one, the underived fatherhood. Thus, and here’s the part that I’m going to run with for a minute.
Thus, every human family derives its name, that is exists as a family with a father because of him. Why are there fathers? Because there is a father in heaven. That’s a very possible interpretation of this text. Paraphrasing it would be for this reason, I bow my knees to the Father from whom every family with a father in heaven and earth is named. Now we can go in a couple of directions with that thought. We can drill down upon this wonderful truth that God is our father.
We can claim him to be our Father Jesus, and encouraged us to pray. Our Father who are in heaven. Romans 8:15 tells us we can go as far as calling him daddy. It’s a much more intimate term used there. We’ve been given a spirit of adoption and the spirit of God encourages us to pray daddy. Now, just as you would respect your earthly father, you respect your heavenly Father, but he is your father. He is your daddy. He’s the one whose given you physical life and he’s the one through adoption and grace given you eternal life.
Paul wants us to appreciate that. He wants us to enjoy the total access that we have to our Father. Ephesians 2:18. He wants us to enjoy God’s generous heart. Matthew 7:11. The Bible says, if you being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, will not your heavenly Father give those that ask him that which is asked? We can enjoy his abiding love and presence. Psalm 27:10. If your mother and father forsake you, the Lord will take you up.
There’s a verse for a world of absentee fathers and abusive fathers. To enjoy his compassion and pity when we’re hurt because according to Psalm 103:13, as a father pities his children so the Lord is compassion on those that love him. If you’re hurt, God wants to nurse you back to health. God wants to hold you in his everlasting arms. He wants you to enjoy that reality. We can enjoy his constant awareness. Matthew 6:8. I love it.
Love it. Before you ask, your father knows the things you have need of. That’s a father, omniscient, omnipresent, totally aware of the moment we’re in the fight we’re fighting. The needs we have, and we also need to love him for the fact that he’s willing to show us tough love and discipline us when we take to the wrong path. Hebrews 12:4-11, I bow my knee to the Father from whom every family with a father is named. That’s an amazing thing.
Somehow we struggle with this. I know because I’ve talked to people, especially people from abusive backgrounds or have had a bad upbringing and they find it hard to get here. But you’ve got to fight your way here because it’s so good to wake up every day knowing daddy is the Lord of heaven and earth. Listen to the Puritan, John Owen, who actually spoke about the strange anomaly, but reality of God’s people being slow to embrace the love of the heart of the Father.
His language is quaint, but it’s very real. He says this, John Owen. How few of the saints are experimentally acquainted with this privilege of holding immediate communion with the Father in love. With what anxious, doubtful thoughts do they look upon him? What fears, what questionings are there of his goodwill and kindness? At the best, many think there is no sweetness at all in him towards us, but what is purchased at the high price of the blood of Jesus.
Christians do seem to struggle in embracing and being assured by the love of the Father. My daughter, Angela lent me an interesting book, Finding My Father by Blair Lynn. Some of us know Blair, my daughters do, and if you’re a graduate of Master’s University, you might. Blair Lynn is an author, speaker, activist, actress, Christian spokesperson, word artist.
She’s appeared on television and movies. She writes her own proclamations and poems. But she grew up without a father and it affected her like it does anyone who has to deal with that. Ultimately it affected her ability to try and understand God as her father when she became a Christian. In the book she talks about that. She talks about a time when eventually she did get in touch with her father. She had rehearsed all kinds of conversations and how it might go.
But it went this way and this overtook her thinking and her imagination and her emotions where her father admitted that he had been bad, that he was a flawed man, that he was a frail man, that he needed fathering. Because he wasn’t fathered, he couldn’t father. There’s more she says about that, but I’ll pick up her own words here. She says this about the absence of all of that and the confusion of that conversation with him and yet a growing compassion for who he was and had failed to be.
She says this. A father is a covering. He’s a shield from the danger so where do you go when your dad needs a place to hide too? Some have suggested we simply do away with the idea of this kind of father since it’s been so muddied by sin. But our sin does not negate the truth. God has established that no sinner can dictate or destroy what God intends. We just need to lift our eyes a bit higher. I appreciate what the theologian Bruce Warr says about this.
He’s speaking specifically about abusive fathers. But we can replace abusive with absent and it is just as meaningful. Now here she quotes a very good theologian at Southern Baptist Seminary. It’s Owen Strahan’s Father-in-law who’s been here before. But Bruce Warr says this. Some have been affected by abuse, we put in their absence, can learn afresh from our Heavenly father, just what true fatherhood is. I have sometimes heard that those who grew up with abusive fathers simply need to remove from their minds the notion of God as Father.
This name for God is a barrier to their relationship with him, some have said. But surely this is the wrong solution for a very real problem. Rather than removing father from our Christian vocabulary and in particular from our naming of God, should we not work at having our minds and hearts refashioned so that our very concept of father is remade by knowing the true Father, overall? That is instead of encouraging a distancing from God as father with love and sensitivity, we should say to those who cringe at the memory of their fathers, I’ve got wonderful news for you.
There is a true father who is dramatically and drastically different in so many, many ways from the father you had. Meet with you, the true God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Learn from him just what father really means and enter into the fullness of his fatherly, love, care, wisdom, provision, protection and security. Amen. If you’ve had an abusive father or an absent father, my heart goes out to you. It’s not something I’ve experienced.
But I can tell you, God wants to father you lovingly, caringly, sacrificially in the giving of his son for your sin. God wants you to live under the umbrella of his care as a father who provides and protects and perseveres. What a wonderful truth. But I want to go in another direction quickly. If that’s a positive outcome of that, there’s a negative outcome of this verse. We should mourn the demotion and degradation of fatherhood within our society.
We watch with horror at the political lift. The BLM and its Marxist views of the family. The nuclear family they seek to destroy. Think about the LBGT community, feminism and their constant attack upon fatherhood. Male leadership, patriarchy. Think about the liberal theological lift. We live in a day we saw signs here in the whole abortion to be death to the patriarchy. Kill the patriarchy. That’s demonic, that’s evil and that’s wicked.
But it’s denial of a truth and a truism. There’s a father in heaven from whom every family with a father is named. The family is God’s design. Fatherhood is God’s passion and priority. Male leadership is God’s will. Patriarchy is biblical. Have you thought about the scourge of fatherlessness? Have you read the statistics recently that 23% of children in America live in a single-parent home? The highest rate in the world. 75% of adolescent murderers are from fatherless homes.
63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes. 85% of children with behavioral disorders have only a mother in the home. Fatherlessness is a plague, but nobody’s talking about it. They want to shift the blame for poverty and crime, to the police, to white supremacists, to this and that every which way. But one of the main plagues of homelessness and poverty and crime and emptiness and young people who are suicidal is fatherlessness.
Psychologists talk about father hunger. 70% of juveniles in state institutes are from fatherless homes. 75% of all teens in treatment, fatherless homes. 71% of high school dropouts, fatherless homes. 90% of homeless and runaway children, fatherless homes. You don’t think Paul was onto something? We need to look to and be loved by the Father from whom every family with a father is named. We need to know our Heavenly father and in the best of circumstances, we need to know our Earthly father.
It’s God’s design. It’s God’s purpose. As I close this morning, here’s a couple of little takeaways, a couple of little challenges I think you’ll find challenging, especially the man. God is the first Father underived, from which every father is derived. Fatherhood, patriarchy, male leadership within the home is his design, his plan, his will. Let me say this to every single young man in this church, aspire to be a father.
Put that on the top of your list as you pray about what you want to become and what you want to do with your life. Lord, I want to be a father. Because it’s part of your passion and part of your plan and something of your love and something of your character can be transferred through my fatherhood. As a young man, aspire to be a father. Read Psalm 127 and 128, which will teach you to get married and have a bunch of kids. Because although sometimes they’ll make you pull your hair out, they’ll bring a joy to your heart and a satisfaction towards the end of your life that’s on unbeatable.
They’ll be a living legacy to your life. Hopefully for the glory of God. Let me say to every father in this church, be like your heavenly Father. Be faithful, stable, unswerving, compassionate, loving, firm protective. Provide. Be generous. Live and lead your family in such a way that your children see your good works and they glorify your heavenly Father. Matthew 5:16, every Christian father’s behavior is shaping a child’s understanding of the heavenly Father.
Fathers have an awesome responsibility, but a wonderful opportunity to give their children a picture of God. Start that legacy. If you’re a single young man, get married, desire to be a father. If you are a father, build that legacy and continue that legacy and keep that legacy. Let me finish with the prayer of General Douglas McArthur. Here’s what he prayed. Build me a son oh Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak and brave enough to face himself when he is afraid.
One who will be proud and unbending and honest defeat and humble and gentle in victory. Build me a son whose wishbone will not be where his backbone should be. A son who will know thee. That to know himself is the foundation stone of knowledge. Lead him, I pray, not in the path of ease and comfort, but under the stress and spare of difficulties and challenge here. Let him learn to stand up in the storm. Let him learn to have compassion for all those who fall.
Build me a son whose heart will be clear, whose goals will be high. A son who will master himself before he seeks to master other men. One who will learn to laugh yet never forget how to weep. One who will reach into the future yet never forget the past. After these things are his odd, I pray enough of a sense of humor so that he’ll always be serious, yet never take himself too serious. Give him humility so he may always remember the simplicity of true greatness, the open mind of true wisdom and the meekness of true self.
Then I, his father will dare to whisper I have not lived in vain. He understood the legacy, the joy, the substance of being a father and being a good father and producing a good son. There are a few legacies like it, and it will be one of the things that will remind you on your deathbed, you have not lived in vain. Father, we thank you for this prayer of Paul Rich. We have mined it once more. We want to learn to pray. We’re listening to Paul pray and we’re picking stuff up.
We’re learning what ought to prompt our prayers. We are learning the posture we need to take. We’re learning the focus we need to have. We certainly can pray for ourselves, but we need to pray for others. That’s an act of love. We can truly affect people’s lives when we pray for them. Lord, help us to learn those lessons and help us to cherish this idea and image and reality of you as Father. You’re the underived father of every living thing, and you’re the father of every family that has a father. The family of husband and wife, mom and dad, with dad leading the charge is your design. Children your reward. Bringing them up in the fear and admonition, our legacy. We thank you for all that we’re learning today from the Apostle Paul. May his words and his attitudes be wood on the fire of our prayer life for Jesus’ sake. Amen.