Learning anew from Paul’s prayers in Ephesians. Paul wastes no words on lack-luster prayers. He does not ask for frivolous things. He does not spend time asking for things that don’t matter eternally. Paul prays the way we need to be prayed for. He prays for the heart.
This morning I read Ephesians 3 from the New Living Translation. Paul’s prayer in 16-21…
“I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources….”
What a great description of what God has as resources. Glorious. Unlimited. He will use these resources in a glorious way, in an unlimited way, to “empower us”.
That’s Paul’s prayer. Lord, help me to pray like this! That you would empower me from your glorious and unlimited resources of grace!
Inner strength is what Paul is praying for. Inner strength is not from me trying harder. Reminds me of exhortations from Paul to “walk worthy of the gospel.” Too often I have heard that this means we try harder. Examine how we live and change (as if the change comes from us). However, walking worthy of the gospel only comes from praying like Paul prays in Ephesians. Prayer that is rooted in gospel truth.
To walk worthy means to walk in a way that matches or is in balance with the gospel message. The gospel says that we are dead made alive by Christ. Is our walk (or ability to walk) any different?
Hence Paul’s prayer….he prays that God (from his glorious and unlimited resources) empowers us with inner strength through the Spirit. What happens next is amazing…
Verse 17, “then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust him. Your roots will go down into God’s love and keep you strong.”
Jesus dwells with us, in us. The empowering work of God to strengthen us creates trust, which results in Jesus making his home with us. Christ will dominate my thinking, my feeling, my living. He will permeate my life. That is how God keeps me, a weary pilgrim, strong in the face of the rocky, long, and dry road ahead.
Paul is praying to God for this to happen, so it does not come from me, not something I can create, not something that I can fabricate. God empowers me.
Critical then to this empowering is that God also gives a new, deeper understanding of his love. Oh, how little I understand his love.
Verse 18, “And may you have the power to understand…” Again, not from me, this comes from God…
“How wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.”
These measurements most likely describe not the thoroughness of comprehension but the immensity of the thing to be comprehended. This might especially be true since Paul states in verse 19, “May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully.” Eternity is eternal and unending because, knowing God and his love is so immense, so huge, it will take forever to discover (which means it will never end, we won’t ever be bored in heaven because we already know it all).
The content of this comprehension is to know experientially the love of Christ that supersedes all knowledge (Phil. 4:7). The more a Christian knows about Christ, the more amazed he is at Christ’s love for him.
Paul’s prayer is exactly what I need, for God to empower me in this way. Lord, open my eyes each day to see your glory and the depths of your love.
This pilgrim way is full of trials and pain. Inner strength is vital to walk worthy. Walking worthy through the trials and pain means remaining faithful and rooted in the gospel (my absolute inability and God’s immeasurable strength and power to rescue me).