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Principles And Practice Of Prayer

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Course Description

The PURPOSE OF THE COURSE is fivefold:

    1. To examine the teaching of the Scriptures on the subject of prayer.

    2. To meet God together in prayer.

    3. To see the absolute necessity of a vital prayer experience in the life of the man/woman of God and of the Bride of Christ.

    4. To foster a sense of the urgency of prayer.

    5. To provide practical guidance in fostering a consistent and effective prayer life in the local church.


Only the reading listed below is required for this course. For your future use, an extensive bibliography is included in the syllabus. The four books listed below shall be read in their entirety. A brief written report on each book is to be turned in on the dates listed by each book. (If a student has read these, or one is unavailable, please suggest an alternate book to the professor for approval.) On each completion date, please turn in a brief typewritten report (no more than two pages) in which you discuss:

--the overall value of the book, and

--some special help you received by reading the book.

It is strongly recommended that the student own a copy of each of these books (available through Bibles and Books).

    1. FRESH WIND, FRESH FIRE by Jim Cymbala (Zondervan)

September 6

    2. THE PRAYER FACTOR by Sammy Tippit (Moody)

October 4

    3. DARING TO DRAW NEAR by John White (InterVarsity)

November 1

    4. PRAYING THE SCRIPTURES by Evan B. Howard (InterVarsity)

November 22

    5. PRAYER POWER UNLIMITED by J. Oswald Sanders (Moody)

December 6

Articles on prayer included with syllabus also to be read by Dec. 6 with 2 page (double spaced) reaction paper.

NO MID-TERM OR FINAL EXAMS will be given in this course.


Because this course purposely has the emphasis on learning a habit, students are EXPECTED TO BE AT EVERY CLASS SESSION. The habit of prayer is as much or more caught than taught, therefore any student missing a class can expect 3 points to be taken from the final grade. Missing class before or after vacation periods will cause a double loss (6 points) of points from the final grade.


The five assignments are given below:

    Assignment #1 - due August 23, 2002

Prepare a list of questions you have about prayer: its nature and practice. The questions may involve interpretation of Scripture passage, practical problems, etc.

    1. The list must be typed.

    2. These questions can be of great help to the instructor in developing various areas of the course.

    Assignment #2 - due September 20, 2002:

Prepare a study on prayer from Acts 12. Suggestions for approaching this study:

    1. Master the contents of the chapter, noting carefully the matters relating to the prayer life of the Christians and the Church.

    2. You may consult commentaries or any other helps you desire.

    3. As you study and pray over the chapter, give attention to the following:

      a. Note the historical setting of the event. What is the significance of it in this very early period of the church?

      b. What is the problem involved?

      c. How is the problem solved?

      d. What do you see here of Satanic activity . . . of human weaknesses . . . of spiritual strength?

      e. By the extension of the problem and the solution revealed here, what important lessons on prayer do you find for the personal life and for the Church?

      f. What is the connection of verses 20-23 with the rest of the chapter?

    4. Write a brief paper entitled “Instruction on Prayer from Acts 12.” (Note: This is the item to be handed in; all the above is just to help in approaching the study.)

      a. Remember that you are handling a chapter of Scripture text on the theme of PRAYER. Each item in your outline will have a verse indicator.

      b. Use other Scripture (outside of Acts 12) to support, illuminate, or illustrate your points.

    5. Your paper must be a maximum of four pages in length, typewritten, double-spaced.

    Assignment #3 - due October 18, 2002:

Prepare a study on the prayer requests of the Apostle Paul.

    1. Study carefully Paul’s requests for himself in the following five passages:

Romans 15:30-32; Ephesians 6:18-20; Colossians 4:2-4; 1 Thessalonians 5:25; 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2

    2. Make a careful list of the requests that he makes. These should be in your own words, carefully referenced. There will be duplicates. This is to be handed in with your essay.

    3. Following the list of requests, write a short essay (maximum of four pages) entitled “Instructions for My Prayer Life from the Requests of the Apostle Paul.” Your paper should include such matters as:

      a. The predominant burden of his requests.

      b. Any light his requests throw upon the nature of the prayer itself.

      c. Compare and contrast with the “average” Christian’s praying today.

      d. Any determination to which you have come concerning your own prayer life.

    4. You may consult any “helps” you wish, but evidence of personal study and thought will be looked for in your work.

    5. Your paper should be a maximum of four pages in length, typewritten, double-spaced.

    Assignment #4 - due November 22, 2002:


    1. Read the passage carefully, remembering that Jesus was praying for the first missionaries (His apostles) to be sent out in the Christian era.

    2. Note carefully His petitions for them, the need expressed for the petitions, etc.

    3. Give thought to the answers to these petitions as seen in the subsequent history of the apostles' ministries.

    4. Prepare a paper (maximum four pages), presenting the lessons learned for praying for missionaries today. The paper may take the form of an essay, or a list (lesson 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. in full-sentence, short-paragraph form).

    Assignment #5 - please report on this on a single sheet of paper by December 6, 2002:

Pray/praise/confess/intercede an hour a week with someone not in this class. Married and engaged students are to pray with spouse/fianc. Singles should seek to disciple a person (same gender) to pray with: This could be a new believer or someone who simply desires to grow in his/her prayer life. Pray for and with this person over a period of time, seeking to help them establish a habit of regular prayer. This hour of prayer is not to be measured with the stopwatch (no legalism allowed), but neither is chit-chat time to be viewed as part of the hour.

If a mentoring possibility does not exist, please seek a prayer partner to pray with and learn from and pray for and with this person. Please pray with a degree of frequency one could call intense or urgent.

The report (one sheet double spaced) should share about how often you met, but most importantly what you learned or experienced about God or about yourself or about praying in this time together.

Married students are to share major principles learned in this course with their spouse as well as spend considerable time praying with their spouse. They are to report, in writing (1-2 pages) on the fact that these things happened and the value derived from doing it together. Any feedback from the spouse regarding the benefit of this course will be greatly appreciated.

Those having questions about this should contact the teacher.

    Assignments are due on the following dates:

Aug. 23

List of questions on prayer

Sept. 6

FRESH WIND, FRESH FIRE reaction paper

Sept. 20

Acts 12 paper

Oct. 4

THE PRAYER FACTOR reaction paper

Oct. 18

Paul’s prayers - paper

Nov. 1

DARING TO DRAW NEAR reaction paper

Nov. 22


Nov. 22

John 17 paper

Dec. 6


Dec. 6

SYLLABUS ARTICLES reaction paper, AND Prayer Partnership report

Related Topics: Prayer

The Disciplines of Prayer and Fasting

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Seminary Mission Statement

The mission of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary is to equip leaders to fulfill the Great Commission and the Great Commandments through the local church and its ministries.

Course Description

This course is designed to provide a biblical, theological, and historical study of prayer and fasting with a particular emphasis on assisting students in their personal prayer lives, personal fasting, and their preparation for leadership of the prayer and fasting experiences in local churches.

Student Outcomes

The student will have an enhanced understanding of the biblical, theological, and historical backgrounds of prayer and fasting

The student will have enhanced personal perspectives, attitudes, and commitments toward prayer and fasting.

The student will have enhanced skills in personal devotional practices related to prayer and fasting.

The student will have enhanced skills in leading ministries of prayer and fasting in the local church.

Key Competencies Addressed

This course addresses the spiritual and character formation competency as well as the disciplemaking and, biblical exposition, and Christian theological heritage competencies.


The Prayer-Shaped Disciple by Dan R. Crawford, Hendrickson Publishers

Fasting for Spiritual Breakthrough by Elmer Towns, Regal Books

Course Requirements

    1. The student will read the textbooks and provide reflection briefs on chapters assigned by the professor.

    2. The student will maintain a 5 day-per-week prayer journal.

    3. The student will read and report on one book from the bibliography.

    4. The student will complete the midterm and final exams.

Course Evaluation

Reading/Reflection Briefs


Prayer Journal


Book Report


Midterm Exam


Final Exam


Course Outline



Anderson, Leith. Praying to the God You Can Trust. Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1998.

Beasley-Topliffe, Keith. Surrendering to God: Living the Covenant Prayer. Brewster, MA: Paraclete Press, 2001.

Bright, Bill. The Transforming Power of Fasting and Prayer. Orlando: New Life Publications, 1997.

Cedar, Paul and Charles R. Swindoll, Eds. A Life of Prayer. Nashville: Word Books, 1998.

Celebrate Jesus 2000 Prayer Committee. Praying Your Friends to Christ. Alpharetta, GA: North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1998.

Chafer, Lewis Sperry. True Evangelism: Winning Souls Through Prayer. Grand Rapids. Kregel Publications, 1993.

Christenson, Evelyn. Unleashing God’s Power: What God Does When Women Pray. Nashville: Word Books, 2000.

Cornwall, Judson. Praying the Scriptures. Orlando: Creation House. 1998.

Crawford, Dan R. and Calvin Miller. Prayer Walking: A Journey of Faith. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers, 2002.

Cymbala, Jim. Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1997.

Dietz, Eddie. What Does Prayer Enable God to Do? Cherokee, NC: Mountain Gospel Publishing, 1998.

Dobson, Shirley. Certain Peace in Uncertain Times: Embracing Prayer in an Anxious Age. Portland: Multnomah, 2002.

Elmore, Tim, John D. Hull, John C. Maxwell. Pivotal Praying: Connecting With God in Times of Great Need. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2002.

Floyd, Ronnie W. How to Pray. Nashville: Word Publishing, 1999.

Franklin, John, Compiler. A House of Prayer. Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1999.

Graf, Jonathan. The Power of Personal Prayer. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2002.

Helms, Elaine. If My People…Pray: Steps to Effective Church Prayer Ministry. Marietta, GA: Church Prayer Ministries, 2000.

Hemphill, Ken. The Prayer of Jesus. Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2001.

Howard, Evan B. Praying the Scriptures. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1999.

Hunt, T.W. and Claude V. King. In God’s Presence. Nashville: LifeWay Press, 1994.

Jennings, Ben. The Arena of Prayer. Orlando: New Life Publications, 1999.

Johnstone, Patrick. Operation World: 21st Century Edition. Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2001.

Kamstra, Douglas A. The Praying Church Idea Book. Faith Alive Christian Resources, 2001.

Lucado, Max, Ed. A Thirst for God: Studies on the Lord’s Prayer. Nashville: Word, Publishing, 1999.

Lucas, Daryl J., Ed. 107 Questions Children Ask About Prayer. Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1998.

McHenry, Janet Holm. Prayerwalk: Becoming a Woman of Prayer, Strength and Discipline. Colorado Springs: Waterbrook Press, 2001.

McIntosh, Doug. God Up Close: How to Meditate on God’s Word. Chicago: Moody Press, 1998.

Mehl, Ron. A Prayer That Moves Heaven. Portland: Multnomah Press, 2002.

Moore, Beth. Praying God’s Word. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000.

Murphey, Cecil. Invading the Privacy of God. Ann Arbor: Servant Publications, 1997.

Omartian, Stormie. The Power of a Praying Husband. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, Inc., 2001.

_______________. The Power of a Praying Parent. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers Inc., 1995.

_______________. The Power of a Praying Wife. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, Inc., 1997.

Otis, George, Jr. Informed Intercession. Ventura: Renew Books, 1999.

Parkhurst, Louis Gifford, Jr., Ed. Principles of Prayer. Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2001.

Patterson, Ben. Deepening Your Conversation With God. Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1999.

Pier, Mac and Katie Sweeting. The Power of a City at Prayer: What Happens When Churches Unite for Renewal. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2002.

Ramon, Brother. The Prayer Mountain. Norwich: Cantebury Press, 1998.

Richards, Larry. Every Prayer and Petition in the Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1998.

Sheets, Dutch. Watchman Prayer. Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 2000.

Sherrer, Quin and Ruthanne Garlock. How to Pray for Your Children. Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 1998.

Sherrer, Quin. Praying Prodigals Home. Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 2000.

Spear, Wayne R. Talking to God. Pittsburg: Crown & Covenant Publications, 2002.

Spurgeon, Charles H. Twelve Sermons on Prayer. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1996.

Teykl, Terry. How to Pray After You’ve Kicked the Dog. Muncie, IN: Prayer Point Press, 1999.

Vander Griend, Alvin J. Developing a Prayer-Care-Share Lifestyle. Grand Rapids: Hope Ministries, 1999.

Wagner, C. Peter. Churches That Pray: How Prayer Can Help Revitalize Your Congregation and Break Down the Walls Between Your Church and Your Community. Ventura: Regal Books, 1997.

_______________. Praying With Power: How To Pray Effectively and Hear Clearly from God. Ventura: Regal Books, 1997.

Washington, James Melvin, Ed. Conversations With God: Two Centuries of Prayers by African Americans. New York: Harper Collins Books, 1994.

Wright, C. Thomas. Pray Timer: Real Time for Real Prayer. Alpharetta, GA: North American Mission Board, 2001.

Related Topics: Prayer, Fasting

Prayer in Scripture and in the Christian Life

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Catalog Description of the Course

A study of the progressive biblical revelation on prayer and evaluation of prayer practices and teaching in the light of Scripture. 2 hours.

Purposes of the Course

This course should enable you to know what the Bible teaches about prayer, to feel a greater love and appreciation for God, and to adopt a more biblical lifestyle of prayer.

Instructional Objectives

You should be able to do the following things at the end of this course.

    1. Explain what prayer is and what it is not.

    2. Describe and differentiate eight kinds of prayer.

    3. Explain how prayer relates to 18 religious practices that people properly or improperly link with prayer.

    4. Identify the significant new revelations concerning prayer in the Bible.

    5. Appreciate the direct relationship between a person’s perspective of God and his or her prayers.

    6. Differentiate the bases upon which people approached God in prayer in various periods of history.

    7. Explain the significance of the methods and forms people use in praying.

    8. List the characteristics of prayer in various periods of history.

    9. Identify the major concerns about which people have prayed in various periods of history.

    10. Offer scriptural explanations for the apparent contradictions to other biblical teachings that prayer raises.

    11. Explain why God does not answer some prayers.

    12. Enumerate the conditions for having one’s prayers answered.

    13. Evaluate selected extrabiblical literature on prayer in view of the scriptural teaching.

    14. Appreciate the consistency of biblical teaching on prayer.

    15. Feel relief over the resolution of apparent theological and practical problems connected with prayer.

    16. Communicate with God in prayer more effectively.

    17. Enjoy a more intimate personal relationship with God.

    18. Think creatively about prayer.

    19. Appreciate more fully how God is answering your prayers.

    20. Gain more insight into the condition of your own heart.

    21. Clarify your attitudes and feelings about prayers.

    22. Appreciate more fully the relationship between prayer and spiritual power.

    23. Gain deeper insight into prayer from the writings of others.

    24. Synthesize various aspects of the study of prayer.

Course Requirements

    Class Attendance

Attend as many meetings of the class as possible and participate in class discussions. Your first three absences from class are excused. Each absence beyond three will result in a reduction in your final grade for the course. Three tardies equal one absence. If you miss more than 10 minutes of a class, you should count yourself absent. Record the completion of this assignment on the course schedule below. Report the fulfillment of this requirement on the “Assignments Report” sheet (the last page of this syllabus) at the end of the course.

    Textbook Reading

You will need to read a copy of Talking to God: What the Bible Teaches about Prayer by Thomas L. Constable. This book is currently out of print, but you will receive a copy as a handout in class.

Please read the section of the book dealing with the subject(s) assigned for the next class period before coming to that class so you can participate in the discussion of that subject. You may give yourself half credit for each reading assignment you completed by the end of the course if you did not complete it before the class period when it was due. Keep a record of the textbook reading assignments you complete on the course schedule below. Mark “1” beside each assignment you completed on time or “1/2” beside each one you did not complete on time but which you completed by the end of the course. You will need to report the total number on the “Assignments Report” sheet at the end of the course.


Spend at least 1/2 hour per day, at least 6 days per week, in concentrated, private prayer during this semester. This is to be praying that you do while concentrating on nothing else. Praying done in prayer meetings can count toward the fulfillment of this requirement but not praying while you are driving or doing anything else that divides your attention. Record the completion of this assignment each week on the course schedule below. If you did not complete the total assignment for the week, you should give yourself no credit for this assignment for that week. You need complete only one hour, instead of three, the first week of the course. This is the most important assignment in the course. Each prayer assignment that you do on time will receive double credit. Report the fulfillment of this requirement on the “Assignments Report” sheet at the end of the course.

    Other Assignments

You may select which and how many of these assignments you want to do for this course. These are due at class time on the due date. A list of these assignments and the specified due dates of some of them follows below. It is a good idea to copy each assignment before you turn it in just in case it gets lost. Please put the name of the assignment on it before you turn it in. This will save the grader time recording your grades, and it will help him or her record your grades accurately. You may turn in assignments early, but I recommend that you do not. The grader will probably hold early papers and grade all of them when they are due. The assignment might get set aside and lost if you turn it in early.

Keep a record of the assignments you turn in, when you turn them in, and the grade you earned for each one on the course schedule below. This will help you make sure you get proper credit if the grader should make an error recording your grades.

Include in these assignments all information needed to fulfill them including biblical data and advocates of viewpoints where appropriate. Present all sides of an issue when this is appropriate to the assignment. Organize your thoughts carefully before you begin writing. Present your data clearly, concisely, completely, and correctly in any form appropriate to the assignment (essay, chart, diagram, etc.). You may write your papers by hand if you cannot type, but they must be legible and double spaced. “Course papers must conform as nearly as possible to thesis style as presented in the latest edition of A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations by Kate L. Turabian and to any additional instructions authorized by the faculty” (Student Handbook, p. 23). Additional instructions authorized by the faculty include the Supplement to Turabian available in the Book Center.

Be careful not to plagiarize the work of someone else. Plagiarism is the act of taking and passing off as one’s own the ideas and writing of another. Plagiarism is a sin because it is a form of stealing and lying.

Depending on the grade you want to earn in this course, you may do any combination of the following assignments, those with specified dates due and those with unspecified due dates.

Assignments with Specified Due Dates

A short paper on imprecatory prayers. Research in the Bible and in other reference books and answer the questions that follow. Use 4 to 6 pages of paper. DUE Sept. 24.

a. What is an imprecatory prayer?

b. Cite several examples of imprecatory prayers in the Bible with Scripture references.

c. Why has the presence of imprecatory prayers in the Bible been a source of discomfort to Christians?

d. Give your solution(s) to the problem(s) of imprecatory prayers just mentioned in answer to question c above.

A short paper on vows and signs. Research in the Bible and in other reference books and answer the questions below. Use 4 to 6 pages of paper. DUE Oct. 8.

a. What is a vow as the Bible uses the term?

b. Why should a Christian make vows to God or why should a Christian not make vows to God?

c. Should a Christian request signs from God? Why or why not?

A summarizing chart. Make a chart on two sheets of paper (any size) condensing the most important data in chapters 4 and 5 of the textbook from your viewpoint. DUE Oct. 31.

A short paper on God changing His mind. Research in the Bible and elsewhere and explain the references in Scripture to God changing His mind in response to prayer. Use 4 to 6 pages of paper. DUE Dec. 5.

A short paper on prayer requests. Research from the Bible and explain what God has commanded and encouraged Christians to pray for with Scriptural references. Use 4 to 6 pages of paper. DUE Dec. 10.

A creative writing project. Research and write an article suitable for submission to Kindred Spirit in 900-1100 words entitled “The Main Reason Prayers Go Unanswered” or “How to Get Your Prayers Answered.” DUE Dec. 12.

A prayer diary. Compose a prayer diary or journal in which you record your prayer requests and God’s answers as well as your thoughts about prayer as this course progresses. Try to make regular entries during the weeks of this course. Write the diary in any form that you can turn in for reading and evaluation. For some values of this exercise and “how tos” see “Keeping a Personal Development Journal” by Janet Carter in Christian Single (January 1984), pp. 30-31. DUE Dec. 12.

Assignments with Unspecified Due Dates

You may turn in these assignments any class period. The last possible time to turn them in is by 4:30 p.m. on Friday, December 20, but they will be graded down for lateness if you turn them in after the last class period on December 12.

A book report. Read one or more books on prayer, and write a 3 to 4 page report on each book. These may be books in the course bibliography or other books. I recommend especially the books in the Select Annotated Bibliography in the textbook.

You may want to discuss with me a book that you are considering reading before you begin reading it. I may be able to warn you away from some that might be unprofitable for you to read. The annotations in the course bibliography may provide similar help.

A minimum of 100 pages of reading is required for one assignment. Your written report(s) will be the basis for your grade. A good book report should include interaction with the significant ideas and emphases that the writer presented. It should also include perceptive evaluation of the content of the book and the author’s presentation from a biblical perspective plus an explanation of the help you received from reading it. You may do as many of these book reports as you desire. Each 100 pages read counts as one assignment.

A research paper. Write one or more research papers (1250-2500 words each) in which you present the results of your independent study of some aspect of prayer that is of special interest to you. I must approve your subject before you begin your research. One reason for this is so you do not attempt too much. Include a bibliography of all sources used in your research. You may do as many of these research papers as you desire. Each one counts as one assignment.

A creative project. You may propose a project to me that you may do by yourself or with one or more other students in this course. This could be an audio and or visual production suitable for use with a particular audience. It must communicate some aspect of the biblical teaching concerning prayer. Some creative projects may be appropriate for class presentation.

A seminar. You may attend a seminar on prayer that I approve and write an evaluative report of it. Your evaluation should include the same things mentioned in the book report assignment above.

Written prayers. You may write out at least 10 original prayers of praise based on at least 10 attributes of God, one prayer per attribute. These prayers should each be about 250 words long. These 10 or more prayers will constitute one assignment.

Course Grading

You will decide what grade you want to earn in this course and do the assignments required for that grade. This is the contract method of grading with modifications explained below.

Here is an explanation of the quantity and quality of written assignments and creative projects required to receive a final letter grade.

To earn an A turn in 7 assignment credits that together average “excellent.”

To earn a B turn in 6 assignment credits that together average “excellent” or 7 assignment credits that together average “very good.”

To earn a C turn in 5 assignment credits that together average “excellent” or 6 assignment credits that together average “very good” or 7 assignment credits that together average “good.”

To earn a D turn in 4 assignment credits that together average “excellent” or 5 assignment credits that together average “very good” or 6 assignment credits that together average “good.”

If you did 6 assignments and got “excellent” on 3 and “very good” on 3, your average would be “excellent.” Tie goes to the student.

To compute your average grade for all the assignments you turned in, assign a number to each assignment grade as follows: E = 3, VG = 2, G = 1. Add these numbers and divide by your total number of acceptable assignments. 3 to 2.5 = E, 2.49 to 1.50 = VG, 1.49 to 1 = G. Do not calculate your final grade by assigning a numerical value to each assignment grade and totaling these numbers because you need to earn the specified number of assignment credits to qualify for your final grade.

Your written assignments and creative projects will be graded on the basis of the thoroughness of your research and your presentation of the material. Each of these will receive one of the following grades.

Excellent means you did the assignment extremely well and there is little that could improve it.

Very good means that you have dealt with all the elements you should have dealt with effectively. It is a solid example of good work.

Good means it was adequate to fulfill the assignment. It may not be as complete, full, well thought out, well organized, well produced, or neat as it could have been, but it is an adequate treatment.

Unacceptable means it is below master’s level quality for any number of reasons. These reasons include incompleteness, missing the point of the assignment, superficiality, or sloppiness.

I want to encourage you to work together with another student in preparing your written assignments and creative projects. Our tendency is to become increasingly individualistic in seminary whereas in ministry it is essential that we work effectively with other people. Therefore I will give you 1 and 1/2 credits for an assignment that you do in pairs rather than 1 credit, which you will receive if you do the assignment acceptably by yourself. Your partner may be anyone enrolled in this course including an auditor. However, your partner may not be your spouse unless he or she is officially enrolled in this course too. If you do an assignment with a partner, you must identify each person who contributed to it by name on the assignment. You must also explain the process that you went through in producing the assignment together. If you have differing views on the subject dealt with in the assignment, you must explain and defend each person’s position. You must not divide the assignment, each do a part, and then combine the parts to form one paper. You must each do the whole assignment, then get together and compare your work and conclusions, and finally produce the final product.

Your grade for an assignment may be lowered for any of the following reasons. You may have failed to demonstrate that you have done inductive and or deductive research in assignments that require this. That you have done such research should be evident in the body of the assignment and in the bibliography at the end, where you must identify the sources you used in preparing the assignment. You may have failed to include needed information including biblical data where appropriate. You may have failed to present all sides of an issue where appropriate to the assignment. You may have failed to organize your thoughts and to present your information orderly and concisely. You may have failed to explain something clearly. The grader will write on the assignment any reason for a grade reduction so you will be able to do better in future assignments.

Contact the grader if you have a question about a grade or a comment that he or she has written on one of your assignments when you get it back. If you still have a question after talking with him or her, see me.

I will accept written assignments with specified due dates up to two class periods late, except those due the final week of classes. However if you submit one late, the assignment grade will be one category lower for lateness (e.g., from E to VG). If you want to turn in one of these assignments after it is due (after class time), turn it in the following class period. You will not gain any advantage by bringing it to my office.

In our grading system at DTS we give pluses and minuses as well as straight letter grades. Your fulfilling the course assignments to attend class, read the textbook, and pray will affect your final grade. This will determine whether you get a straight letter grade, a plus, or a minus. The final grade may suffer in cases of extreme negligence to these requirements. To earn a + on your final letter grade, you must complete a total of at least 77 class attendances, textbook reading assignments, and prayer assignments as required. The complete requirements follow below.

The total number of class attendances, textbook reading assignments, and prayer assignments you complete on time appear at the left below, and the grade adjustment appears to its right. Each prayer assignment is worth twice as much as each textbook reading assignment and each class attendance assignment.


        + added to the final letter grade


        straight letter grade


        - added to the final letter grade


        final grade lowered one letter


        final grade lowered two letters


        final grade lowered three letters


        final grade lowered four letters

You must receive an extension from the Credits Committee of the faculty through the Registrar’s office before the end of the course if you need time beyond December 20 to complete the course requirements. See the Student Handbook for course extension policies.

Course Schedule

Mark a check for each class period you attend, and write a “1” or “1/2” beside each textbook reading assignment you complete on the course schedule below. Check in the prayer column only if you have completed 3 hours of private praying the week preceding that class period (1 hour the first week). You will receive double credit for each prayer assignment you complete on time. I also suggest that you write in the other assignments that you do as you complete them. The blank spaces in the last column are for this purpose. This will help you keep track of all the assignments you have completed so you can report this at the end of the course on the “Assignments Report” sheet and receive proper credit. Please do not turn in this class schedule. It is only for your convenience in keeping track of how many and which assignments you have completed satisfactorily.






Class Content








Introduction to course





Why Christians

don’t pray more







The subject and

definition of prayer







The varieties of prayer







The varieties of prayer







The varieties of prayer







The varieties of prayer







The varieties of prayer







The varieties of prayer







Prayer and

spiritual power







Practices associated

with prayer







Practices associated

with prayer







Practices associated

with prayer







Prayer in the

Old Testament







Prayer in the

Old Testament







Prayer in the

Old Testament







Prayer in the

New Testament







Prayer in the

New Testament







Prayer in the

New Testament







Prayer in the

New Testament







Class period devoted to prayer







Prayer in the

pastoral ministry







Theological problems

involving prayer







Theological problems

involving prayer




11-19 &21


No Classes

Reading Week


11-26 &28


No Classes

Thanksgiving Recess





Theological problems

involving prayer







Theological problems

involving prayer







Practical problems

involving prayer







Conditions for

answered prayer





I have prepared a lengthy annotated bibliography of books on prayer that is much too long to include in this syllabus. You will receive it as a handout in class.

Assignments Report

Instructions. You must turn in this sheet and all work for this course no later than 4:30 p.m. Friday, December 20. You must fill this sheet out completely and turn it in to receive a final grade and credit for this course. Total the checks you have made on the class attendance, text, and prayer columns on the course schedule to provide the following information. The prayer assignments will receive double credit, but record here only the number of prayer assignments you completed by class time each week. You do not need to report the other assignments that you did since I already have a record of that.

After checking my class attendance record in column 3 of the course schedule above, I can report that I was present for the following number of class periods: _____.

After totaling all the 1s and 1/2s in column 5 of the course schedule above, I can report that I completed the following total number of textbook reading assignments: _____. (Do not write “all” or any other word but the exact number.)

After totaling all the checks in column 6 of the course schedule above, I can report that I completed the following total number of private prayer assignments on time this semester: _____.

I affirm that the information above is true and complete.

Name (please print) ________________________________________ Box _________

Each time I teach a course I try to improve it. What did you like about this course and what did you dislike? How could I make it more enjoyable and profitable in your opinion?

Please attach a stamped, self-addressed envelope if you would like me to mail your final grade and any not yet returned written assignments to you. Otherwise these will come back to you through your Student Information Center box.

Related Topics: Prayer, Basics for Christians

The Teaching of Prayer in Bible Colleges and Seminaries

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Teaching prayer in a seminary is no less challenging than my experience of teaching prayer as a pastor to new believers in a church. You would imagine it to be otherwise. But prayer, the simple conversation between Sovereign God and finite human being, is hard. A student wrote about it this way:

Wrestling, agonizing, sweating, working, asking, fulfilling duty, this is what prayer has been for me in my journey of faith. I have found, along with comfort and hope, both confusion and frustration. The same questions kept lurking like shadows in the back of my mind year after year. Why is prayer so hard? Why do I lose interest in praying? Why does God feel distant when I pray?

I have heard various teachings on this subject, some good, some mediocre, and I had been aware of the disparity between the teaching and my experience of prayer. Intuitively, there was a strong feeling that prayers should be more and take me deeper, But I did not even know what was missing or where to look for answers. It was startling to realize that my focus on prayer was severely limited.1

Many persons say they pray, but few have experienced the wonder and power of prayer. Paloma and Gallup found that after 4 decades of surveys about prayer, the percentage of persons who say they pray has changed little.2 However, out of 88% of persons who pray today only 15% regularly experienced a definite answer to prayer and only 12% regularly received a deeper insight into a Biblical truth.3 Statistics support the reality of the student. Many pray, but few find prayer satisfying and effective.

This is a distressing reality. Christ modeled prayer as foundational to his life with God and to his ministry. Prayer is also directly linked to the effectiveness of the church today. George Barna discovered that the only constant he ever found between effectiveness for the Kingdom of God and some other element was not some particular gifted person, was not some fancy program, but was simply prayer.4 In light of its importance to the Kingdom of God and in light of the difficulties people experience with prayer, seminaries and Bible Colleges must find some way to “teach” prayer that shifts the student’s experiences from difficult to vital and effective.


Before exploring the content of a course on prayer, the question of “how” to teach prayer is critical. Knowledge in and of itself does not usually change people. Therefore, care must be given to the methods of teaching prayer. The methods are not simply pedagogical in the classroom, but also institutional.

Institutionally at George Fox Evangelical Seminary, the prayer class is part of an extensive and intentional spiritual formation program. The Seminary places the highest value on students personal spiritual formation while studying. Students on a normal track take a spiritual formation course every semester they are in their program. The courses are scheduled in protected “bubble times” so that regular course offerings do not compete with the spiritual formation curriculum. Students have a few required courses, prayer being one, and the rest are spiritual formation electives such as “Spiritual Formation and Creation,” “Spiritual Formation and the Mystics,” and “Spiritual Formation and Social Justice.” In all, the seminary has 22 spiritual formation courses.

All of the courses, except a couple designated for training spiritual directors, are one credit hour and are designed in a particular manner. The courses are designed to create time and reflective space for spiritual growth while students are in seminary. Therefore, they do not require research, the writing of formal papers, or the taking of examinations. Students are required to read, write reflection papers, keep journals, and participate in class discussions and a class small group. Students receive grades on the basis of attendance, completion of reading and reflection papers, and participation. Overall, the courses give the student focus, time, and accountability to their spiritual formation, and hopefully, the courses also model a spiritual formation value that becomes a lifestyle value for the graduate in ministry.

Specifically for the course on prayer, I used the insights of Jay Conger to develop the pedagogy methods. Jay Conger, a professor of organizational behavior, discovered in his research that four approaches were necessary to ensure leadership development: self-awareness/personal growth, conceptual analysis, feedback, and skill development.5 The development of a student’s prayer life is not the same as leadership development in the area of content. However, both are formational, have a praxis component and a theory component, and both are critical to the effectiveness of the church. I have experimented with using together all four of Conger’s approaches in my prayer class, and I believe, it has increased the effectiveness of the course experience.

Personal Growth

Therefore, the prayer class is designed to be a personal, honest prayer journey for each student. Early they are asked to share their experiences of prayer: what is their desire for prayer; what are their questions; what are their blocks; how did they learn to prayer; and what types of prayer experiences have they had? The whole purpose of the course is to provide an opportunity for a student in community to develop a deeper and more satisfying prayer life. They are expected to pray and to make a commitment towards increasing depth and value in their prayer life. At the end of the course, I ask students to reflect on their journey during the 14-15 weeks of the semester. Over the 6 years I have taught the course, the majority of the students experience significant transformation in their understanding and experience of prayer.

Conceptual Analysis

In order to improve a student’s prayer effectiveness, understanding the psychological, Biblical, and theological nature of prayer is important. In this course conceptual analysis of prayer is wedded to types of prayer experiences. For instance, I begin with prayer in the Old Testament and we have a Jewish prayer experience using the Psalms, getting a flavor of liturgical prayer. In the New Testament we focus on Jesus life of prayer and his teaching on prayer, and engage the student’s personal experience of prayer. Before I teach on conversational and intercessory prayer, we look at the relationship of the Holy Spirit to prayer. The week I do healing prayer and the problem of unanswered prayer, we consider the different theological perspectives on prayer. We evaluate how theology reflects one’s view of God and one’s belief of the efficacy of prayer to change things. In the lessons on prayer and tears and prayer and the contemplative, we examine the psychological aspects of prayer. Prayer is not a warm fuzzy. A student should develop critical thinking skills and theological understanding in regards to prayer.


As God has created us as relational beings, most of our self-awareness and maturity is linked to community. Therefore, in all the spiritual formation courses, students are put into small groups of four. Half of the class time is spent with content and interaction, and half of the class time is spent in small groups. In prayer, I allow the students to choose their small group in the third week of class. The first two weeks I mix the students up so that they get a chance to meet each other. I have them choose a group name, make a list of group prayer goals, decide how they want to support each other and hold each other accountable, and I have them prepare a confidentiality covenant. They have a group folder and each week during their small group time, they check in on their progress on goals and let me know how the group is doing.

After a lesson and prayer experience, I give them specific questions for their small group, and then I have them pray together. Poloma and Gallup concluded in their research that “The true measure of prayer is whether it transforms the old self into a new self, and changes how we relate to one another.”6 By being in small groups and journeying together through prayer for a semester, students have some accountability for their prayer journey. I have found that when the small group experience works, it greatly enhances a student’s experience in the course as a whole. At times, they don’t work. In a class of 30, I will usually have one group of four which does not bond. The reason most often given is a resistance to share one’s spiritual life with anyone else. If a student is not willing to submit to a group, they rarely grow.

Skills Development

Developing the praxis of prayer is also critical. Emilie Griffin wrote, “There is a moment between intending to pray and actually praying that is as dark and silent as any moment in our lives.”7 Going through a whole semester without actually praying is wasting a semester on prayer. Prayer is experiential and therefore the experience of prayer is modeled and practiced in the classroom. Some students have never prayed out loud. Some students are new Christians and do not know how to prayer. Some students are jaded, and some are arrogant about their piety. The best way to learn prayer in the simple and faith based manner of Christ is not to talk about it, but to pray.

Every week I introduce a different type of prayer along with the theological, Biblical, or psychology concept which is most naturally linked to that type of prayer. I will model the prayer and walk them through every aspect of it. Then we will pray as a class that style of prayer, and then they often will pray again in their small groups. For instance, when I do meditative prayer, I share with them two types, projection and transposition. I tell them what I am going to do, one type at a time. I lead them through each type. In their small group they will share about their experiences and then pray for each other.

The advantage of using all four of these approaches (personal growth, conceptual analysis, feedback, and skills development) to teaching prayer is that each one of the approaches fits more naturally one learning style over another. Taken together the student is both stretched and taught, and hopefully, transformed.


Prayer is a rich relational experience with God and variety often broadens and deepens that relationship. There are many ways to prayer. Richard Foster has done the best job of describing the variety of prayer experiences.8 Therefore, Foster’s book is the one standard text I use in this course. Most of the other texts I change from semester to semester.

To keep the prayer class interesting, I develop the class on types of prayer experiences somewhat along the line of Foster. However, I divide the course into two main types of prayer kataphatic and apophatic. Kataphatic prayers tend to be more accessible and less threatening to students than the apophatic types. Therefore, we begin with the kataphatic types of prayer such as liturgical prayers, the Lord’s Prayer, prayer of tears, conversational prayer, intercessory prayers and healing prayers. Even with the kataphatic prayers, I begin with the less threatening and move to the more difficult. The kataphatic prayers are more often interactive and vocal. Apophatic prayers are more often individual and silent. The apophatic types of prayer include meditative prayer, contemplative prayer, and creativity and prayer. The last prayer type I do is the relationship between prayer and play. Often prayer is seen as heavy and obligatory, and I enjoy very much teaching them how to pray through play. The last two weeks deal with prayer ministry and a challenge again to a life of prayer.

Examples of other books I have used in the course include: (1) Roberta Bondi, To Pray and To Love, (2) Sandra Cronk, Dark Night Journey, (3) Emilie Griffin, Clinging, (4) Jeanne Guyon, Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ, (5) Bill Hybels, Too Busy Not to Pray, and (6) Ann and Barry Ulanov, Primary Speech: A Psychology of Prayer.

I do not discuss the books much in class, but use them as another avenue to understanding prayer. Students keep a journal throughout the course reflecting on their prayer experiences and the readings. Students write a final reflection paper which addresses their understanding of prayer, their experience of prayer in the course, and their plan for continuing their prayer journey.


Teaching prayer well is difficult. First of all I have to be a person of prayer. A person of prayer does not just talk about prayer, but lives a life of prayer and believes passionately in its importance for growing deeper in Christ and for accomplishing God’s purposes in the world. Harry Emerson Fosdick wrote, “Prayer is the soul of religion, and failure there is not a superficial lack for the supply of which the spiritual life leisurely can wait. Failure in prayer is the loss of religion itself in its inward and dynamic aspect of fellowship with the Eternal.”9 Each time I teach the class, I wonder if I will be able to plant deep in the soul of the student a passion for prayer and a persistent habit of prayer.

I would greatly appreciate learning from the experiences of other faculty teaching this subject. How does one get in all there is to say about prayer in one semester? How does one address the wealth of cultural diversity in prayer? How does one deal with the apathy or woundedness of the student which inhibits their ability to pray? How does one create an experience where a taste of prayer drives them back again and again for more? I still have much to learn, but I am encouraged when a student writes this:

This class on prayer has stretched me and pushed me, sometimes much further than I felt comfortable. Praise, confession, intercession, even unanswered prayer, these are factors that I am familiar with. But meditation,breath prayer, play, creativity, simply resting in God and being refreshed…

These are definitely not normal in my prayer life.

Reading about the different types of prayer and discussing them in class have been very helpful and eye-opening. However, what has really expanded my prayer horizons are the prayer experiences we have had in class. I have never colored with crayons while praying. I have never moved together with others while repeating in unison a Hebrew prayer. My mind has been engaged in prayer before, but not my imagination.

The hardest realization for me to deal with is this: my prayer life is a reflection of my relationship with Jesus. Maybe Jesus has seemed so distant because I have kept him detached by my preconceptions and limitations. I want my prayer life to change and so I must begin with my relationship to Jesus. I am thirsty, ready to move on beyond a functional and rational spirituality into a more emotional and relational experience.10

1 Shane Gandara, Tending the Garden of Prayer (Final Reflection Paper for SFAD 520, Portland, Oregon, April 1999) [used with permission] 1-2.

2 Margaret Poloma and George Gallup, Varieties of Prayer: A Survey Report (Philadelphia: Trinity Press International, 1992), 3.

3 Ibid., 47.

4 George Barna, What Effective Churches Have Discovered (Notes taken at a seminar in Portland, OR, 1997).

5 Jay Conger, Learning to Lead (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1992).

6 Poloma and Gallup, 131.

7 Emilie Griffin, Clinging: The Experience of Prayer (NY: McCracken Press, 1994), 13.

8 Richard Foster, Prayer (Harper SanFrancisco, 1992).

9 Harry Emerson Fosdick, The Meaning of Prayer (New York: Association Press, 1919), xi.

10 Shane Gandara, 3.

Related Topics: Prayer, Teaching the Bible, Christian Education, Issues in Church Leadership/Ministry, Leadership

Purpose of the Teachers of Prayer Fellowship

  • To encourage ourselves in the teaching of life’s greatest privilege -- prayer.
  • To promote the teaching of prayer in Churches, Bible Colleges, and Seminaries.
  • To identify and encourage production of literature for the purpose of teaching prayer.
  • To provide resource material for leaders of prayer meetings.
  • To train those desiring to be leaders of prayer meetings.
  • All for the increase of the quantity and quality of prayer in the lives of God’s people.

We have the “theological” society the “missiological” society the “homiletics” society and on goes the list. But, prayer has been neglected needs. It needs to be taught as the indispensable foundation to every Christian discipline. So, it seems appropriate to have a society for those concerned about the teaching and experiencing of prayer. Our Lord, John the Baptist and Paul were teachers of prayer and so should we teach, lead, and exhort others to pray.

Prayer and ministry of the Word of God should be the main areas of local church ministry and are the chief ways in which the Holy Spirit works. We believe that prayer is under valued, insufficiently practiced and minimally taught in our Christian experience today. Prayer is all the more important when we realize how it supports preaching of the Word, evangelism, missions and all other Christian endeavor.

As a society, or fellowship, promoting the teaching of prayer in our churches, colleges and seminaries we hope to increase the understanding of our responsibility to pray and it’s role in the advancement of the kingdom of God.

Teachers of Prayer Fellowship is an informal association of those who have an interest in motivating believers in practicing prayer in their daily lives of. This includes teachers in the academic world and ministers and lay people in the church world. If you have material that you would like to share with others concerning the teaching and promoting of prayer you may e-mail us copies of the material and it will be considered for inclusion on this web site.

For more information contact: Bob Hill


Discipleship and Spiritual Transformation Alliance, Bob Howey

Spiritual Formation Forum, Dick Averbeck

Spiritual Formation Study Group, John Coe

LifeWay, John Franklin

Moody Publishers, Bob Hill

North American Mission Board, Chris Schofield


It can easily be shown that all want of success, and all failure in the spiritual life and in Christian work, is due to defective or insufficient prayer.
The Kneeling Christian

No form of Christian service is both so universally open to all and so high in Christ’s priority for all Christians as prevailing prayer.
Mighty Prevailing Prayer
, Wesley Duewel

Prayer is a sacred and appointed means to obtain all the blessings that we want, whether they relate to this life or the life to come. Shall we not know how to use the means God has appointed for our own happiness?
A Guide to Prayer,
Isaac Watts, 170

Prayer does not equip us for greater works–prayer is the greater work.
Oswald Chambers

Without its biblical principles being taught, prayer is unstable. Without our “catching” the principles by applying them to our lives, it is sterile.
The Arena of Prayer
, Ben Jennings

Teachers of Prayer Fellowship

Dick Averbeck

    Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Spiritual Formation Forum
    Richard Averbeck [email protected]

Joel Beeke

John Coe

    Talbot School of Theology, The Institute for Spiritual Formation,
    ETS Spiritual Formation Study Group
    John Coe [email protected]>

Thomas Constable

Dan Crawford

John Franklin

Norman Goos

Perry Hancock

Bob Hill

David Livingston

Roger Peugh

Bruce A. Pickell

Oliver Price

Jim Rosscup

Chris Schofield

Aida Spencer

William Spencer

Janice Strength

Judy TenElshof

David Talley

Tony Twist

Don Whitney

James Wilhoit

Michael J. Wilkins

Wallace Williams

Related Topics: Prayer

One Baptism in Ephesians 4:5

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The meaning of “one baptism” in Ephesians 4:5 and whether it refers to water or Spirit baptism has been much debated through the years, and although there are exceptions, the scholarly consensus is that this refers to water baptism. It is this author’s contention, however, that this conclusion is based primarily on a misunderstanding of the role of the Spirit in Spirit baptism.1

Arguments for Water Baptism2

A study of the exegetical commentaries and theological journals reveals a common approach to verses 4-6 which is foundational to their understanding of the e}n bavptisma.Rather than take the list of seven unities as one unit, these three verses are divided into three sections paralleling the Trinity. Thus Barth writes, “in the course of NT exegesis and church history, the trinitarian structure and contents of Eph 4:4-6 have received much greater attention.”3 In other words, verse 4 is seen as a reference to the Holy Spirit, verse 5 as a reference to Christ and verse 6 as a reference to the Father.

This division seems legitimate, but because verse 5 is seen as a reference to Christ, these authors see a conflict if e}n bavptisma is a reference to Spirit baptism. If the author of Ephesians had meant Spirit baptism, they conclude that e}n bavptisma would have been listed in verse 4. Thus Barth writes,

After the “Spirit” has been mentioned in vs. 4, and after his creative, animating, unifying power over the “body” has been sufficiently intimated, there is no need for the author to insist again, in vs. 5, that the gift of the Spirit makes the Christians one body (Cf. I Cor 12:13).4

And Bruce writes, “If the ‘one baptism’ here had meant Spirit-baptism to the exclusion of water-baptism, it would surely have been associated with ‘one Spirit’ and not ‘one Lord.’”5 Perhaps the clearest elucidation of this argument for water baptism comes from one of the more popular commentaries. John MacArthur writes,

The one baptism of verse 5 is best taken to refer to water baptism, the common New Testament means of a believer’s publicly confessing Jesus as Savior and Lord. This is preferred because of the way Paul has spoken specifically of each member of the Trinity in succession. This is the Lord Jesus Christ’s verse, as it were.6

Further support for interpreting e}n bavptisma as water baptism typically follows the line of argument that water baptism logically and chronologically follows the profession of faith just discussed in the previous phrase miva pivsti" .7 Thus, as Lincoln says, water baptism is “the public rite of confession of the one faith in the one Lord.”8 This is a true statement about water baptism, but there are problems with taking this as a reference to water baptism.

Lincoln recognizes this and immediately qualifies the “oneness” of the water baptism by saying, “This baptism is one, not because it has a single form or is administered on only one occasion, but because it is the initiation into Christ, into the one body, which all have undergone and as such is a unifying factor.”9 The question might also be asked if “all have undergone” water baptism. Though it certainly was the expected procedure in the early church, at least one man (the thief on the cross) is recorded in scripture as not undergoing this ritual.

Additionally, any reference to water baptism is typically followed by a discussion and defense of possible reasons for omitting the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. After all, if the sacrament of water baptism is meant, why did Paul not mention the Lord’s Supper?10

Thus the primary reason for taking this to be water baptism is that it resolves an apparent conflict with the Trinitarian grouping of verses 4-6. The Spirit was mentioned in verse 4, and it seems inconsistent to mention Spirit baptism in this verse about Christ.

Arguments for Spirit Baptism

In contrast to the critical scholars many other commentaries hold that this is Spirit baptism. The common denominator among this group is that the seven unities listed in verses 4-6 are seen as one group and not divided into sections corresponding to the Trinity. Most fail to explain how they derived this to be Spirit baptism. The statement is simply made, and then they move on to the next topic, but there are numerous reasons this could be taken as Spirit baptism:

First, the unities listed here have a certain emphasis on the supernatural. Water baptism on the other hand is performed by man.11

Second, water baptism is not necessarily unifying because this issue has actually divided Christians. Even in Paul’s time there were misunderstandings. For example, Paul was glad that he had not baptized many in 1 Cor. 1:13 because it was a partial source of disunity. And most would agree that Ephesians was written after First Corinthians.

Third, as already mentioned, if water baptism is meant, why not mention the other sacrament, the Lord’s Supper?

Fourth, this is not consistent with the baptismal formula of Matt 28:19 which associates water baptism with “the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Although Paul wrote before Matthew,12 Matthew surely recorded what was the prevalent and accepted practice.

Thus there are several reasons why Spirit baptism should be considered. If one could resolve the apparent conflict in the trinitarian grouping, perhaps this would allow those who place an emphasis on structure to consider these reasons. It is this author’s conclusion that a proper understanding of the role of the Holy Spirit in Spirit baptism is essential to this.

The Role of the
Holy Spirit in Spirit Baptism

1 Cor. 12:13 is perhaps one key to understanding what the author means in Eph. 4:5. In 1 Cor. 12:13 it is clear that the baptism is Spirit baptism. The context of the Corinthian passage is the unity of Jew and Greek in the body of Christ as it is in Ephesians 4. 1 Cor. 12:13 says, “For by one Spirit we were baptized into one body,” and thus we see the words “Spirit,” “one body” and “baptism” together as in Eph. 4:4-5 which seems to indicate a similar topic. The key is in understanding the ejn eJniV pneu`mati in 1 Cor. 12:13.

A common misconception is that because the Holy Spirit is involved, it is the Spirit who is doing the baptizing. This misconception is aggravated by the ambiguity of the English word “by” which is typically used in translation of e}n pneu`mati. But an understanding of the grammar is essential. eJnrequires the dative, and the function of the dative,pneu`mati, is to express means or instrument.13 This construction is similar to the phrase ejn tw'/ ai{mati tou' Cristou'. in which the blood is the instrument Christ used to purchase the Christian. It is possibly because the label “means” or “instrument” sounds so impersonal that people hesitate to label the actions of a very personal Holy Spirit as such, but ejn can also designate a personal agent.14 Thus persons can be used as an instrument, and the person of the Holy Spirit is in fact the instrument used by Christ to baptize the believer, just as water was the instrument used by John to baptize believers (cf. Acts 1:5).

This concept is also consistent with John the Baptist’s prophesy that Christ would baptize them with the Holy Spirit. In Mark 1:8 John says, “I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” And Luke also records his words. “John answered and said to them all, ‘As for me, I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire’” (Luke 3:16). Concerning this Tom Woodward writes:

Six of seven passages on Spirit-baptism are a quotation of John’s prophecy or Jesus’ restatement of it. … Since the literal baptism of John involved an immersion in…water, it follows that Christ’s baptism in the Holy Spirit is a vivid metaphor picturing immersion in an outpoured river of the Holy Spirit.15

He goes on to say,

Unfortunately, Paul does not carry on the parallel with water baptism when writing the Corinthian church about Spirit-baptism. For this reason, translators and expositors have felt a freedom to cast the Spirit in the role of the Baptizer—something they cannot do in the other six passages because of his clearly fixed role as the metaphorical element of baptism.16

Thus when we read statements like that of one author who says, “Note, the Spirit is the baptizer and the Body of Christ is that into which the person was injected”17 or when Barth writes, “After the ‘Spirit’ has been mentioned in vs. 4,… there is no need for the author to insist again, in vs. 5, that the gift of the Spirit makes the Christians one body,”18 they have missed the point. The Spirit is not the Baptizer and does not give the gift. Christ is the Baptizer, and Christ gives the gift. The Spirit is the gift.

After all that has been said, though, it is essential that this concept not be misconstrued so as to degrade the person and work of the Holy Spirit because it is certainly not the intent of this author. The Holy Spirit is certainly not an inanimate object like the water of John’s baptism. The Holy Spirit is Christ’s personal agent and obviously takes an active role in the baptism of the believer.


If the Spirit is understood as being the instrument and Christ is actually the one who baptizes, then Spirit baptism is actually Christ’s baptism,19 and consequently, there is no conflict with the trinitarian grouping of verses 4-6 and with the contents of verse 5 (particularly a reference to Spirit-baptism) being associated with the second person of the Trinity. Perhaps alleviation of this conflict will open the door for consideration of the other reasons that this might indeed be a reference to Spirit baptism.

1 I would like to express much appreciation to Professor Dan Wallace who looked at a preliminary draft and made many helpful suggestions.

2 The following authors hold to water baptism as the proper interpretation of 㮠b䰴isma: T.K. Abbot, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Ephesians and to the Colossians, (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1897), pp. 108-109; Marcus Barth, Ephesians 4-6, The Anchor Bible (Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1974), p. 469; F.F. Bruce, The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1984), pp. 335-338; G.B. Caird, Paul’s Letters From Prison (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1976), p. 73; John Calvin, Sermons on Ephesians (Chatham, England: Banner of Truth Trust, 1973), p. 331; R.W. Dale, The Epistle to the Ephesians (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1893), p. 268; John Eadie, Commentary on the Epistle to the Ephesians (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1957), p. 275; Charles J. Ellicot, Ephesians, p. 87; A Critical and Grammatical Commentary on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians (Minneapolis, Minn: The James Family Christian Publishers, 1978); Josef Ernst, Die Brief an die Philipper, an Philemon, an die Kolosser, an die Epheser (Regensburg: Friedrich Pustet, 1974), p. 348. G.G. Findlay, The Epistle to the Ephesians (New York: George H Doran Company, nd), p. 224; Francis Foulkes, Ephesians (Tyndale NT Commentaries), p. 113; William Hendriksen, Exposition of Ephesians, New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1976), p. 187; Harold Hoehner, “Ephesians,” The Bible Knowledge Commentary New Testament Edition, ed. Walvoord and Zuck (Wheaton, Illinois: Victor Books, 1983), p. 633; A.T. Lincoln, Ephesians, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word Books, 1990), p. 240; John MacArthur, Jr., Ephesians (Chicago: Moody Bible Institute, 1986), p. 130; John MacPherson, Commentary on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1892), p. 290. Adolf Schlatter, Die Briefe an die Galater, Epheser, Kolosser und Philemon (Stuttgart: Calver, 1963), p. 205. Rudolf Schnackenburg, Der Brief an die Epheser, Evangelisch-Katholischer Kommentar zum Neuen Testament (Z? Benziger, 1982), p. 168; Brooke Foss Westcott, Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1952), pp. 58-59; Lange, The Epistle to the Ephesians, p. 141; W. E. Moore, “One Baptism,” New Testament Studies, Vol. 10(4), 1964, pp. 504-516.

3 Marcus Barth, Ephesians 4-6, p. 463 (italics mine).

4 Ibid., p. 469.

5 F. F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Ephesians (Toronto: Pickering & Inglis LTD, 1961), pp. 79-80.

6 John MacArthur, Jr., Ephesians, p. 130 (italics mine).

7 Abbot, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Ephesians and to the Colossians, p. 109; Bruce, The Epistle to the Ephesians, p. 80; Schnackenburg comments that, “Die Taufe >>auf den (oder im) Namen des Herrn (Jesus)<< unterstellt die Glaubenden dem einen Herrn und wendet ihnen das Christusheil zu.” Rudolf Schnackenburg, Der Brief an die Epheser, p. 168. And Schlatter says, “Zu dem inneren Vorgang, der unsere Verbindung mit dem einen Herrn Herstellt, f?ulus den 䵟eren Akt, der sie uns verschafft, die Taufe, mit der die Gnade des Christus uns erfaߴ und uns den Zutritt zu ihm und zu seiner Gemeinde schenkt.” Adolf Schlatter, Die Briefe an die Galater, Epheser, Kolosser und Philemon, p. 205.

8 A.T. Lincon, Ephesians, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word Books, 1990) p. 240. Ellicott, p. 87.

9 Ibid.

10 MacPherson points out a common answer which is that “only the initial or inaugural acts are taken into account.” John MacPherson, Commentary on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians, p. 290. The following authors also dealt with the absence of the Lord’s Supper with similar conclusions: Abbot, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistles to the Ephesians and Colossians, p. 109; Barth, Ephesians, p. 470; F.F. Bruce, The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians, p. 337. G.B. Caird, Paul’s Letters From Prison, p. 73; Eadie, Commentary on the Epistle to the Ephesians, p. 275; Ellicot, Ephesians, p. 87; Josef Ernst, Die Brief an die Philipper, an Philemon, an die Kolosser, an die Epheser, p. 348. Lincoln, Ephesians, p. 240; Wescott, Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians, p. 58.

11 Stanley Toussaint, class notes on Ephesians taken at Dallas Theological Seminary, 1966. Lewis Sperry Chafer, The Ephesian letter (New York: Loizeax Brothers, 1935), pp. 124-25.

12 Donald Guthrie, New Testament Introduction (Downers Grove, Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 1990), pp. 54 & 536.

13 Walter Bauer, William F. Arndt, and F. Wilbur Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Second ed. (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1979), p. 260.

14 F. Blas and A. Debrunner, A Greek Grammar of the New Testament, Trans. by Robert W. Funk (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1961), pp. 117-18.

15 Tom Woodward, “The Roles of Christ and the Spirit in Spirit-Baptism,” Master’s Thesis Dallas Theological Seminary, 1979, p. 41.

16 Ibid., p. 43.

17 Earnest R. Campbell, Ephesians (Silverton, Oregon: Canyonview Press, 1986), p. 143. Campbell does take Eph 4:5 to refer to Spirit-baptism, but he also does not mention the trinitarian grouping of verses 4-6.

18 Markus Barth, Ephesians, 4-6, p. 469.

19 Willard H. Taylor also recognized this principle and used the phrase “Christ’s Baptism” to explain the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Willard H. Taylor, Ephesians, Beacon Bible Expositions Vol 8, Editors: William Greathouse and Willard Taylor (Kansas City, Missouri: Beacon Hill Press, 1981), p. 172.

Related Topics: Baptism

Love Your Wife Sacrificially (Ephesians 5:25-27)

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Several years ago, the Saturday Evening Post published an article entitled “The Seven Ages of the Married Cold.” It revealed the reaction of a husband to his wife’s colds during their first seven years of marriage. It went something like this:

The first year: “Sugar dumpling, I’m really worried about my baby girl. You’ve got a bad sniffle, and there’s no telling about these things with all this strep throat going around. I’m putting you in the hospital this afternoon for a general checkup and a good rest. I know the food’s lousy, but I’ll be bringing your meals in from Rosini’s. I’ve already got it all arranged with the floor superintendent.”

The second year: “Listen, darling, I don’t like the sound of that cough. I called Doc Miller and asked him to rush over here. Now you go to bed like a good girl, please? Just for Papa.”

The third year: “Maybe you’d better lie down, honey: nothing like a little rest when you feel lousy. I’ll bring you something to eat. Have you got any canned soup?”

The fourth year: “Now look, dear, be sensible. After you’ve fed the kids, washed the dishes and finished the floor, you’d better lie down.”

The fifth year: “Why don’t you take a couple of aspirin?”

The sixth year: “I wish you’d just gargle or something, instead of sitting around all evening barking like a seal!”

The seventh year: “For Pete’s sake, stop sneezing! Are you trying to give me pneumonia?”

The decline of marriage as seen through the common cold. A funny look at a not-so-funny reality.

When I first heard that story, I laughed but at the same time it struck fear in me. We have this image of love that lasts a lifetime. But, I’ve been married eight years, and while I certainly haven’t accused Lori of barking like a seal, I have seen some changes in our marriage and not all of them for the better.

Are you still treating the woman you married the same way you did when you were dating or when you were first married? I hope so, but in case you aren’t, I want to share with you what I have discovered recently about love and marriage.

This is a hard lesson to share because it is so personal and it reveals my weaknesses. It shows where I fail. But I share it because I know others may be going through the same things. If you are, you are looking for answers. I think I’ve discovered one answer. So let’s look at it.

The answer comes in a rather cryptic picture of marriage—one that has puzzled many people and sent some down the wrong path, but it is a great model for building and growing a marriage. We will see that there is an exhortation, an example and an expectation for us to follow. Let’s take a look at Ephesians 5:25 to discover the model for genuine love that lasts a lifetime.

Ephesians 5:25-27 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; 26 that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless.

Love Your Wife Sacrificially
So She Blooms as God Planned

Love your wife (25a)

Paul begins with the statement, “Husbands, love your wives.” It sounds like such a simple statement, but what does he mean? What does it mean to love?

I was asked this question the other day with reference to my wife, and my answer was that I wanted her to be happy. Imagine my surprise when a few days later I read the following quote from C. S. Lewis: “… by Love … most of us mean kindness—the desire to see others than the self happy; not happy in this way or in that, but just happy.” He goes on to say that God is not like that. “God does not govern the universe on such lines. And since God is Love, I conclude that my conception of love needs correction.” (The Problem of Pain, p. 40.)

My concept of love was wrong. I thought that loving your wife meant sacrificing yourself and your desires to make her happy. It’s true that true love involves kindness and sacrifice, but it doesn’t stop there.

Then how do we determine what love is? Let’s read on and see what Paul says. He has given us the exhortation to love, and now he gives us the example of love.

Paul says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” From this example of Christ, we can draw our second point.

Love your wife sacrificially (25b)

When we think of Christ’s sacrifice for the church we immediately think about the cross. He died for us. If that is our example, how do we apply that? I doubt if any of us will ever be called to literally die for our wives, so how do we sacrifice?

I think the key is understanding what it means to sacrifice. First we see what sacrifice is not.

  • Sacrifice is not just acts of kindness

Too often we read verse 25 and immediately jump on the sacrificial part and come up with a list of things we can do for our wives. In fact, I went to a Family Life Conference this last year and that is exactly what they did. The speaker asked the audience for examples of sacrificial acts of kindness that we could do for our wives. One guy yelled out, “Do the ironing!” Another yelled, “Do the dishes!” Then some wise guy said, “Change the oil!” Anyway, the list can go on and on—wash the dishes, clean the bathroom, iron, give up Monday night football, etc. Most of us are challenged by such lists because there is usually something on the list that has been forgotten. People like lists. They like steps and procedures. Why? Because they feel like they are in control. If you do those things then you have fulfilled your obligation and your conscience is pacified. But is that what it means to give sacrificial love?

What happens if we follow these steps? The husband gives up golf or hunting or Monday night football. He does all the chores around the house. He says, “I’ve got an attitude of sacrifice.” But his attitude might be self-centered. Maybe it is nothing more than working up Brownie points. He expects to be paid back. If he doesn’t get paid back, he stops trying.

Maybe the question to ask is, “What is the motivation?” To put it in the terms Larry Crabb used in his book called The Marriage Builder—is the motivation manipulation or ministry? If it is manipulation, then the husband is doing it because he expects his wife will be happier and treat him better. Most people have the idea that marriage is a 50/50 relationship. That is manipulation. If he is doing it out of the idea of ministering to her then he isn’t doing it for his own benefit. He is doing it for hers.

I read The Marriage Builder before we were married, so I knew this stuff going in to the relationship. I used to struggle with these ideas and what my motivation was. I was always very helpful around the house. I don’t leave my clothes on the floor, don’t watch football, I do wash dishes, and iron regularly, etc. But things did not remain the same as when we were dating or first married. Lori did not respond to me the same way she used to. That’s not meant to be a criticism of Lori because as I’ll explain later, there was nothing to respond to. Anyway, I continually told myself that I was just supposed to minister to her and not manipulate her. So I sometimes felt like a martyr.

Does this mean that Larry Crabb is wrong? No. I just misunderstood what it meant to minister to your wife. I only had a vague and negative idea that ministering was performing acts of kindness and not expecting any results. Christ will fill up your void, etc. Do you know what my idea of ministering was lacking? My ministry lacked direction. I had no goal. But I think I’ve finally discovered what it means to minister to your wife, and it comes in the next two verses.

  • Sacrifice is risking emotional pain

You may not believe it but sacrifice really involves risking yourself.

When you look at Christ’s sacrifice you understand that His death was not just an act of kindness. It was the pain of rejection when He entered our world to call us to Himself. Before we can begin to understand this concept we must recognize the motivation. We can never comprehend why God did what He did, but I think we can get a glimpse of the motivation which will help us as husbands see what our goal is supposed to be.

What is our purpose as husbands? What do we expect to happen? What is the expectation of Love?

Love your wife sacrificially so she blooms as God planned (26-27)

The purpose of love is the perfecting of the one loved.

The next two verses have three clauses in them that show the purpose of Christ’s sacrifice and love. I think having the same goal as Christ is the key to loving. So what is His goal?

  • Christ’s first goal is that He might sanctify her

To sanctify means to set apart. When you marry someone you set them apart from the world. They are set apart for special protection, special care, for special attention, for a special purpose.

When you get married, that is what you have done. You have taken her out of the world and set her apart because you want to devote special attention to her. What is the goal of this special attention?

  • Christ’s second goal is to present her in glory having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing
    Christ’s third goal is that she should be holy and blameless

Christ loves the church and is committed to removing all the blemishes so He can present her in all her glory and beauty to Himself. This is the purpose of love. To bring about the perfection of the beloved.

This is not a new idea. You might recall Ephesians 1:4 which says, “He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.” This illustrates how God’s love is directed towards our improvement and making us beautiful.

If you remember earlier, I quoted C. S. Lewis as saying that love is not wanting someone else to be happy. He says later on in the same book when commenting on this same verse: “Love demands the perfecting of the beloved; that the mere ‘kindness’ which tolerates anything except suffering in its object is, in that respect, at the opposite pole from Love.” (Larry Crabb, Bold Love, page 184-85.)

So the goal of love is not just kindness motivated by a desire to make your wife happy. The goal is to build her up to bring about God’s purpose in her.

How do we know what God’s purpose for her is? 1 Peter 3:7 says “Live with your wives according to knowledge…” In other words know her. Know what she needs. Know what she is good at and what she is not so good at. Know her talents and help her develop them.

How do we get to know our wife? By involvement. Do things together, talk about significant things, etc. If our goal is the perfecting of our wife, there are going to be times when we need to confront them and deal with a problem. There’s the rub.

So, we now know the goal—to build up your wife and help her mature. So what is the problem? Fear of confrontation.

True Love involves confrontation. The purpose of speaking the truth in love in Eph 4:15 is maturity in the one spoken to. It often involves confrontation and correction, but that can only be done properly in love.

Confrontation has always been hard for me. I am not very quick on my feet in a debate or argument so I always feel like I lose. Over the years I have developed the attitude that I must have all the right answers before I dive into the fray. Whenever there is a disagreement with anyone, I usually back down.

I also feel like I have no place confronting someone else when I don’t have my act together and might be guilty of selfishness or something. But that can also become an excuse for never moving forward into someone else’s life. If we wait till we are perfect, we will never move forward. Those verses about judge not lest you be judged and take the log out of your own eye before you try to take the speck out of your brother’s eye need to be followed, but not used as excused to never do anything.

I think the biggest reason we don’t confront is self-protection. If I don’t have all the answers and I am not sinless, then my wife may become defensive and begin to lash out at me. It will hurt when she does that, and so we protect ourselves from that by retreating and never dealing with problems. That is where the sacrifice comes in. Sacrifice is risking life and limb to move into your wife’s life even though it means you are going to get hurt in the process.

How Does That Work?

Sacrifice means I’m prepared to do those acts of kindness like watch the kids, clean the house on Tuesday and Thursday. That may free her to pursue things outside of our relationship like having her own business. That will help her grow in ways I couldn’t. She will encounter new challenges and encounter blind spots in her life that I don’t even see. She will have confrontation among her peers that will be different than what we experience within the marriage.

Sacrifice means I’m prepared to risk my feelings and the pain of rejection.

Sometimes it may mean vulnerably sharing your deepest concerns and feelings.

When problems come up I need to face them head on and not wait until I have all the answers or am blameless.

Can we put all of this together in a scenario?

Example: The other morning, I woke up late, went in and had a bowl of cereal for breakfast, and when I was finished I rinsed it and put it in the dishwasher. I noticed the kitchen was medium messy and thought I didn’t make the mess, so I headed back to the back of the house. Lori called out from the laundry room and said, “Where are you going?” I said, “To get ready for work.” She said, something like, “Aren’t you going to clean up the kitchen,” or “Why don’t you clean up the kitchen.” I don’t remember the exact words. They weren’t particularly nasty, but they were said with a demanding spirit. She was under a lot of stress to get some things done before some lady came over to the house. So what did I do? I went and cleaned up the kitchen.

Why did I do that? She shouldn’t have spoken with those words or that tone of voice. Why didn’t I confront her? I could have said something like, “It sure makes me feel like a little boy when you talk to me that way.” Why didn’t I do that?

1. Because the natural response from the person you confront is defensiveness and return accusations.

2. Because as I told you before I’m not quick on my feet. It took me two days to come up with that response.

3. Because I was wondering if perhaps I should have jumped right in there and cleaned the kitchen when I noticed the mess. I was not blameless in the situation, so I knew that any return accusation that she made would have some basis of truth. I knew I was going to get hurt if I entered into the fray. That scared me and so I didn’t venture forward.

When I finished the kitchen I went and got dressed and went to work. I never said anything about it to her until the next day when all of what I’m telling you today in this lesson came together in my mind. But there was no fellowship between us in the meantime. And she had noticed that I was out of sorts.

I share this example because it shows what happens when we retreat and don’t communicate with each other. Lori does not want to treat me disrespectfully. She didn’t recognize the way she said what she said. And even if she was defensive at first, she would want to know. When we discussed this situation later, she said “The truth is hard to take, but I’m glad you told me.”

It is better to make a 1000 little mistakes moving toward your wife than one big one retreating. I’ve been retreating for eight years. I made the comment earlier that Lori didn’t respond to me the way I wanted. The reason was there was nothing to respond to. I’m always retreating. I don’t take the lead and initiate the relationship like I should. I finally recognized it. It’s scary but I know what I’ve got to do.


The Exhortation Is to Love Our Wives

The example of love is Christ’s sacrificial love for the church. We saw that sacrifice doesn’t mean just acts of kindness that end in self-centered martyrdom. It involves giving up your patterns of self-protection.

The expectation of love is the perfecting of the beloved. We want to be God’s instrument for building up our wives. The only way we will be able to do that is if we sacrifice ourselves and are willing to be hurt in loving involvement in our wife’s life.

Wives can apply much of what I’ve said today because we husbands are not perfect and there are hurtful things that we do that need to be brought into the open and dealt with, but …

My dad once said to me that 85% of the time problems in marriage can be traced to the husband’s fault. I’m sure that was not a scientific measurement, but it made me realize that in the vast majority of cases that’s the truth. As we have gone through this passage, I have discovered that he is probably right. There is a great deal of responsibility placed on the husband for the maturity of the woman God has brought into our lives. So love your wife sacrificially so that she blooms as God planned.



Appendix: Discussion Questions for Love Your Wife Sacrificially

MEN 7/52 is a men's ministry of  Our desire is to see all men become true followers of Jesus Christ 7 days a week/52 weeks a year.

In this lesson, Hampton Keathley IV discusses the bold, yet tender, love a biblical man shows his wife. This lesson includes small group discussion questions on Christ’s love for His church as the model for a man’s love for his wife.

Through the Apostle Paul, God gives men the true formula for loving their wives. It is the model for genuine love that lasts a lifetime. When we think of Christ’s sacrifice for the church we immediately think about the cross. He died for us. If that is our example, how do we apply that?

When you look at Christ’s sacrifice you understand that His death was not just an act of kindness. It was the pain of rejection when He entered our world to call us to Himself. Before we can begin to understand this concept we must recognize the motivation. We can never comprehend why God did what He did, but I think we can get a glimpse of the motivation which will help us as husbands see what our goal is supposed to be.

Men are to love their wives just like Christ loves the church. This is a tall order since Christ’s sacrificial love cost Him His life. Husbands are to present their wives to Christ sanctified, in all her glory, spotless, holy, and blameless. This lesson helps men understand how they are to love their wives sacrificially. It guides men in taking leadership in their marriages so that it grows and flourishes for a lifetime.

Discussion Questions

This lesson is designed to be conducted over six sessions.
Please refer to other books of the Bible in preparing your answers.

Session 1: Love Your Wife Sacrificially (Ephesians 5:25-27)

  1. What is the difference between “ministering” to your wife and “manipulating” her?
  1. Discuss ways in which you might be manipulating your wife instead of ministering to her.
  1. What are the three goals that Christ has for His church?
  1. What must you risk in loving your wife sacrificially?
  1. What goals do you have for your wife?

Session 2: Loving our wives as Christ loved the church (v. 25)

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her;

  1. What are the many ways in which Christ loved His church?
  1. How did He give Himself up for her?
  1. Describe, in detail, Christ’s sacrifice for His bride, the church.
  1. In loving our wives what is the worst pain we face?
  1. What specific areas of your life must be scourged and crucified for your wife?

Session 3: Sanctifying and cleansing our wives as Christ cleanses and sanctifies the Church (v. 26)

That He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,

  1. How does Christ sanctify and cleanse His church?
  1. In Christ, His church is set apart by Him. How do you set your wife apart?
  1. How do you “wash her” in the word?
  1. Describe the ways in which you sanctify your wife?
  1. What special attention does she need?

Session 4: Christ presents His church in all her glory, with no spot or wrinkle (v. 27a)

That He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing;

  1. Describe Christ’s church in all her glory, being spotless, with no wrinkles.
  1. What would your wife be like in all her glory?
  1. What must you do, specifically, to present her to Christ in all her spotless glory?
  1. What do you do, or neglect to do, that brings disgrace, stains, and wrinkles to your wife?
  1. Whose glory do you put first, hers or ours?

Session 5: Christ presents His church holy and blameless (v. 27b)

But that she should be holy and blameless.

  1. How does Christ make His church holy and blameless?
  1. What specifically do you do to assign blame to your wife?
  1. What shame or blame is hidden in her heart?
  1. What sacrifices must you make so that your wife may be holy?
  1. What price must you pay to present her blameless?

Session 6: Personal Applications

  1. What specific changes must you make in order to love your wife the way Christ loves His church?
  1. How will you deal with your fear of confrontation when relating to your wife truthfully?
  1. Describe how you will avoid retreating rather that relating.
  1. What will you have to give up?
  1. Describe your feelings for your wife right now.

Related Topics: Christian Home, Marriage, Men's Articles

The Unity of the Spirit (Ephesians 4:1-6)

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1 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love, 3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.

These first verses of chapter four, first of all provide an environment that is crucial for the equipping of all saints that Paul will discuss below. "It is not so much a program that is needed but an environment (an atmosphere). What does this mean? An environment is the some total of the social, spiritual, and relational attitudes and factors in a group that influences what the individual thinks of him or herself and what he or she does." (R. Paul Stevens, Liberating the Laity, p.26).

Sin is a disruptive force, it always divides, separates, and splinters. It divides a man within and against himself. It has produced the constant fight and struggle which we are all aware of in our own lives and in the life of the church. Consequently, the central object of salvation, in a sense, is to re-unite, to bring together again, to reconcile, to restore the unity that God created before sin and the fall produced this terrible havoc between God and man, between men, and within man himself.

So the unity that we have in Christ is part of the grand design. Thus, one of the peculiar marks of the Christian calling is to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

The Character and Nature of Unity

A Definition

Unity is not a general spirit of friendliness or camaraderie. Nor is unity some common aim or series of aims.

    Unity is a Product

It is the result of all that Paul has been saying in chapters 1-3. It is the product of the cross and God's work in Christ. There can be no Christian unity unless it is based on the teaching of chapters 1-3. Since Christian unity is a result of God's work in Christ, it is not something that we are to aim at for the sake of unity.

    Unity is “of the Spirit"

Spirit is capitalized. It refers to the unity provided by the Holy Spirit. It is a unity which we can never produce. We are not even asked to do so. Because this is true, the following deductions are true:

    Unity is Organic

Unity is living and vital. It is not mechanical. It is not a coalition or an amalgamation. Such consist of a number of miscellaneous units coming together for a given purpose. But Christian unity, the unity of the Spirit, is a unity which starts within and works outward through organic life like we see in a flower or in the human body.

The unity of the church is organic in character. She is not a collection of parts. She is a new creation, a spiritual body created by God in Christ. The old has been done away in the this body. There are no longer the distinctions of man. There is no longer Jew and Gentile . . .

The analogy of the human body explains the nature of this unity.

(1) The human body is first, an organic unity. It consists of many parts: toes, fingers, hands, feet, legs, eyes, ears, etc. But it is not a collection of parts put together as in an automobile or as in a house. It begins from one cell which begins to develop and to grow and shoots off little buds that eventually make up the variegated parts. This is an organic and a living unity by creation. So is the church, spiritually speaking.

True, when a person believes in Christ, he is joined into union with Christ by Spirit baptism and becomes a member of the body, but by the regenerative power of the Holy Spirit, he is not merely and add on. He miraculously and spiritually becomes an organic part of the body of Christ.

    Unity is Diversity

There is diversity in unity, not a uniformity. The parts do not look alike, they do not function alike, yet, they are all important, needed, interdependent, and all work toward the same end, the purposes for which each member was designed in the function of the body as directed by the head and in accord with the creative purpose of God.

Some of the parts are covered, others are within the body and are unseen, but nevertheless, very important. Some gifts are more in the fore front, they are more obvious and others less so, but all are essential to the effective work of the body.

Practical Outworkings of Unity

A Unity of Calling

All believers are the called of God. Our calling is our responsibility to respond to what we have become in Christ. Every believer has been called to be Jesus' disciple and to serve in the body of Christ.

All are called of God. The "secret call" of the preacher or pastor does not make him or her more called than the carpenter . . .

Thematically, Ephesians 4 moves from one's calling to unity to one's calling to ministry (all are called to ministry = part of the one hope of your calling). Christ has given many gifts of grace for ministry (diversity) which come together in one common goal of maturity in Christ.

A Unity of Common Life and Source

The unity of the Spirit is created through our union in Christ Jesus. The word "together" appears so frequently and in such innovative ways in this letter that it deserves special mention. The prefix, "with" or "together" is joined to a number of key words to express our joint life and the impossibility of life outside of this unity (cf. 2:5,6,19,21,22; 3:6; & 4:16). This stands against the spirit of individuality so common in our country today. You know, "do your own thing, go your own way."

A Unity of Ministry

Our unity is a unity or oneness that exist not in spite of diversity, but because of it. It is the wonderful differences themselves which, when properly equipped, contribute to the function of the body and out of this function, attain an even deeper unity of maturity. Only as each part does its work can the body grow.

A Unity of Purpose

The purpose is maturity in Christ, being conformed to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. The ultimate goal is Christ-likeness, or spiritual maturity according to the standard of Christ. This is the primary goal of the equipping and the unity desired. The more we possess His character and mind, the more we will experience the unity of the Spirit.

Equipping--A Pastoral Task

The passage before us is not actually about equipping. The subject of the passage is unity. Equipping is not a thing to be valued in itself. It is simply an instrument of God's grand plan for his people, especially that they may be one, that they may function as the one body they have become in Christ.

Equipping is, in the final analysis, a pastoral task.

The verb form of the Greek word here, katartizo, is used in Luke 6:40 of training or instructing a disciple. There, as the context shows, it includes the idea of modeling, being an example. As the text says, "he will become like his teacher."

The noun form of the word, "equipping," katartismos, is used as a noun only once in the NT, here in Ephesians 4:12. But the word has an interesting medical history in classical Greek. To equip often meant to put a bone or a part of the human body into right relationship with the other parts of the body so that every part fits thoroughly. It means to realign a dislocated limb." (op cit, p. 25).

As the context of Ephesians 4 makes clear, the equipping there is much more than simply giving people skills for teaching, evangelism, or other ministries in the local church. It is primarily concerned with character formation, with Christ-likeness.

W.E. Vine points that the Greek verb for equipping, katartizo, "points out the path of progress." As the word was used of fitting out ships for a long journey, the whole process of equipping implies a journey toward a distant destination. Character is not developed quickly. It requires time and lots of it. This is our destination.

"Since the laity spends an enormous amount of time working inside or outside the home, their "church time" must be only a fraction of their life for God. Unless we equip the laity to live all of life for God, Christianity will degenerate into mere religion." (Liberating the Laity, p. 24). This is one of the subtle snares of the devil.

"Joints of supply." The word comes from apto, "to touch." It refers to "a point of contact," or to " a joint" which provides a point of contact between limbs and members of the body as well as a means of banding together and thus, unity. In the light of its medical usage in ancient times regarding joints and ligaments, Paul's usage in Col. 2:19 (note the one article), and its use here and in Col. 2:19 with the word "supply," seems to point to two ideas:

(1) The point of contact and union: This point of contact with members of the body of Christ provides the means of supply from the rest of the body as it receives directions from the brain, and blood and oxygen for its growth and health. There is also the element of the mutual sympathy and influence of the parts in contact. = the communication of life and energy.

(2) The point of order and unity. Order and unity are the conditions of growth on which the Apostle is insisting.

Every believer is a joint of supply, a point of contact and a source of supply through the head, Christ.

The root meaning of the word suggests "touch" or "contact." "Paul is saying that every member in his or her contact with other members supplies something the body needs" (p. 31, Paul Stephens, LL). Barth translates this verse: "He [Christ] provides sustenance to it through every contact" (Barth, Ephesians, p, 449). This would suggest that the local church should be structured to provide an environment rich in relationships of ministry with each person contributing to the body.

"Paul indicates that the body is constantly supplied (note the present participles) with energy and nourishment by the head, and is held together as a unity by that head alone (at Eph 4:16 the emphasis is on the vital cohesion and union of the parts with each other, here [in Col. 2:19] it focuses on the continuous dependence on the head).

"Supply" = as Robinson, "furnished," or "equipped," or as O'Brien, Word, "provided," or "supplied."

Related Topics: Ecclesiology (The Church), Pneumatology (The Holy Spirit)

Session 1 - Class Introduction

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Session Overview

What is The Theology Program anyway? What is our approach to studying theology? Does TTP take the we're right, your wrong approach? Or does it approach theology more peaceably, letting the students make up their own mind? Am I smart enough to take this course? These are all important questions that this first session seeks to answer. This session presents a basic understanding of the importance of the study of theology and the purpose of The Theology Program. The rules of engagement will set the stage for all future TTP sessions, arguing that theology is best done with an irenic (peaceable) approach, interacting with Christian doctrine and other belief systems in a gracious manner, allowing the student to make up their own mind when all of the evidence has been accurately presented.

Session Reading (for self-study students)

  • Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, pp. 21-43
  • Roger Olsen, Mosaic of Christian Belief, pp. 11-27

Related Topics: Introduction to Theology

Session 2 - Defining Theology

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Session Overview

What exactly is theology and who is a theologian? Why are there so many bad theologies out there? Are you a Tabloid theologian, believing everything you hear? Or are you a more skeptical theologian, who won't believe anything? This session will cover the different methods and commitments, good and bad, that people bring to their theology causing them to be a good theologian or a bad theologian. During this session the student will be persuaded that everyone is a theologian because everyone has theological persuasions and convictions, even if they don't realize it. The student will have to decide what type of theologian they want to be. One can be a sloppy theologian, by naively receiving their belief system without a constructive methodology, or one can be a theologian with integrity, by exercising critical examination.

Session Reading (for self-study students)

  • None