When was the last time you prayed for the church? This question came to mind as I mediated on Ephesians 3:14-21. There, the apostle Paul shares his prayer has offered on behalf of the church in Ephesus, a prayer so important even to this day. The Pauline letters are filled with expressions of prayer is various forms. He prayed with thanksgiving for the church in Corinth (1st Corinthians 1:4), the church in Philippi (Philippians 1:3-4), the church in Colosse (Colossians 1:3), the church in Thessalonica (1st Thessalonians 1:2-3a), and of course, the church in Ephesus (Ephesians 1:16). He also prayed for them personally concerning their growth in Christ. To the church in Colosse, he prayed that they “may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding” (Colossians 1:9) and “strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power” (Colossians 1:11a). To the church in Rome, he prayed that “the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing” (Romans 15:13). These, and many other examples revealed in the scriptures, remind us of both the importance of prayer and the many things so vital to pray about. Today, we take a moment and ponder one of those prayers shared by the apostle Paul as he was guided by the Holy Spirit to pen these words.
For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ… that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His spirit in the inner man…
Ephesians 3:14, 16
In this pray, much like his other prayers, you can see the care the apostle Paul has for those he has labored so fervently for. That said, he reminds us, me, that the real transformative work in the lives of people comes from God. We, like Paul, are merely instruments in the hands of the Great Physician. So, he prays that God would grant them; that is, give to them the opportunity “to be strengthened with might…in the inner man.” If you had a chance to read my meditation on this verse, you may remember that the word strengthened means to grow strong. Strong in what? Might! It is the word we get dynamite from that means force, miraculous power. The source of this miraculous power is His spirit. Listen to these words from Paul found in Romans 15:13, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” The Spirit of God has a significant role to play in our transformation. The exact way that happens I am unable to explain, which reveals the fact that it is miraculous in nature. His objective is understood. It is to transform the inner man, the regenerated man that has now found hope in Christ. It is that “inner man” that Paul says “is being renewed day by day” (2nd Corinthians 4:16). It is the “hidden person of the heart” that Peter talks about in 1st Peter 3:4. This inner person, now reclaimed by the grace of God through Christ, Paul yearns to be strengthened by God through the Spirit, but for what purpose?
…to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
That newfound relationship with Christ, the joy of redemption, being “rooted and grounded” (v17) in His love through faith, can be brought to an even higher level of awareness. To somehow measure within our minds the enormous love of God is so vast. Paul wrote to the church in Philippi, “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:9-11). When we allow the Spirit access to that inner man, and God through His spirit transforms us inwardly, we can be “filled with the fullness of God.” Completion! That is what fullness means. There is nothing that can make me more complete than knowing the depth of love God has for me.
Well, I know that this text has so much more to offer and at some time in the future we will consider it again. The love of God is central to our existence as individual Christians and as the body of Christ. It is what motivates us (2nd Corinthians 5:14) to share the hope of Christ, it is what reals to others who we are (John 13:35), it is what “holds everything together in perfect unity” (Colossians 3:14, ETRV). Heavenly Father, unleash Your Spirit within the believers here at Biddeford so we can comprehend Your love more clearly and deeply to the glory of Your name and Your church.