14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (NIV)
As we begin working through this section of scripture, it is important to point out that this section is Paul’s prayer to God for the Ephesian church and all of its members.
We can look at this scripture in a few different ways, and I intend on looking at it in two specific ways that can help us better understand prayer and God’s role in it:
- Content of Paul’s Prayer
- Position of Paul’s Prayer
Content of Paul’s Prayer:
As we reread the verses where Paul prays (verses 16-19), you may notice that there are some recurring words and themes within Paul’s prayer.
What are some of those recurring words and themes? They are God, strengthen/strength, love, and power.
Paul specifically prays that the Ephesian Christians would be strengthened through the power of the Holy Spirit that lives within them. The strength of the Holy Spirit provides Christians with the ability to withstand temptations, love others well, and discern between right and wrong in the eyes of God. Without such strength, it would become increasingly difficult to maintain a strong faith in Christ, especially considering Ephesus had an intensely pagan and idolic culture that could lure well-meaning Christians away from the faith.
He also prays that the whole Church would have power together – that would have love at its center – so they can then begin to grasp just how amazing the love of Christ is. Something important to point out, though, is that Paul says Christ’s love is “a love that surpasses knowledge”. This means that we cannot fully understand the love of Christ here on Earth, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to understand it.
Why Does This Matter?
This prayer from Paul shows us that the strength with which God provides us is key to our walks in faith. Without that strength, we wouldn’t be able to hold to our faith in Christ.
It also tells us once again that we need to be rooted in the love of Jesus (a prerequisite of one of the prayers for power that Paul prays). Without love, everything we do is meaningless – see 1 Corinthians 13:1-3.
Position of Paul’s Prayer:
Throughout the whole prayer, Paul takes a position of humility, reverence, and praise toward God and he keeps God at the center of the prayer the entire time. He puts God’s characteristics on display for the whole church to see.
In the very first sentence of verse 14, we see that Paul takes a humble position before God. He kneels before the throne of God, which shows that he is a humble servant and is in reverence of who God is. It is clear who is on the throne and who is in control: God.
Throughout the rest of the prayer you can see the characteristics of God on full display, thanks to Paul giving God the glory. “…out of His glorious riches,” “…from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name,” “love that surpasses all understanding,” etc.
The mere facts that Christ’s love transcends our understanding and that God is able to do immeasurably more than all we could ever imagine show us that God is worthy of the praise that He is receiving in this prayer.
He ends the prayer by saying that all the glory in the Church and in Jesus should go to God.
How Should We Then Pray?
While the content of every prayer will likely be different, we should come before God with a humble heart that is focused on Him – giving Him praise and honor for who He is, all He has done, and all He will do.
- God is worthy of all praise, honor, and glory and we need to remember that when we come to Him in prayer.
- The strength that God provides those in Christ is the fuel by which Christians are able to live.
We have an amazing God who wants us to humble ourselves and ask for strength to live as Christ lived – loving others well, withstanding temptations, and living righteously.