Southwestern Seminary’s penultimate chapel service for the fall 2018 semester featured student preacher Andre Kirkland. A Ph.D. student in the School of Preaching, Kirkland serves as associate pastor at Concord Church in Dallas. Kirkland preached on Ephesians 1:15-23 in a sermon entitled “Somebody Prayed for Me,” a reference to Paul’s prayer for the church in Ephesus within this Scripture. 

“Here in this passage, he lifts up a prayer that the believers in the church in Ephesus would be enlightened in their inner being, that they may come to know God fully for who He is, that they may come to understand His purpose and His Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ,” Kirkland said. “And I want to tell you today, Southwestern, that the understanding of your purpose, the possession you are to God, and your power are all predicated on your knowledge of Him.” 

Therefore, Kirkland said, prayers should go beyond one’s present circumstances, and instead, believers should follow Paul’s example and pray for enlightenment. “We can’t leap in praise and limp in prayer,” Kirkland said. “Prayer, sisters and brothers, is how you tap into what God is commanding for your life.”

After systematically walking through each element of Paul’s prayer, Kirkland concluded with an exposition of the “surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe” (verse 19). Kirkland explained that though all believers face trials and hardships, “Jesus is over it all.” 

“What may seem to be over your head is really under His feet,” Kirkland said. “He is in charge. He is in control. He is the head. He is the fullness of the body that fills all in all. So when you are feeling empty, you go to Christ for Him to fill you up. We are in Him forever and ever.” 

“Christ has what you need,” Kirkland concluded. “What are you looking for? He has it. The power, the fidelity, the inspiration, the hope—it is found in Christ.”

Prior to his doctoral studies at Southwestern, Kirkland completed both a Master of Divinity (2015) and Master of Theology (2017) at the seminary. He also met his wife, Shana, here on campus, leading him to joke before his sermon that “Southwestern owes him nothing.” Shana will graduate this semester with her Master of Divinity. 

In addition to Kirkland’s sermon, the chapel service featured worship, Scripture reading, and the recognition of women who have completed the Seminary Studies for Student Wives Certificate. Dean of Women’s Programs Terri Stovall said this certificate program “prepares student wives to be prayerful and passionate partners in ministry with their husbands.” Of the five women who completed the program this semester, two were able to attend the chapel service and receive their certificates—Jennifer Shelby and Livia Paz.