Ephesians 3 Prayer
For this reason I bow my knees
before the Father,
from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name,
that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man;
so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.
Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us,
to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:14-21
The arrangement of the concepts within this prayer should skyrocket our faith. We are family praying to our Father, who happens to be Almighty God, about His eternal purpose. As much as Jesus and the heavenly host originate from God the Father, so do we. Our family connection and our identity springs from the One to whom we now pray. The prayer itself is authored by Him. Should we not have confidence that He will answer? Jesus’ comparison between human fathers and God our Father comes to mind − "if you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!”
…that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory… As the Father and family concept strengthen faith for prayer, acknowledging God’s unfathomable
resources with the phrase “the riches of His glory” also encourages the same. The extensiveness of His glory is incomprehensible to our finite human minds and imaginations. “The heavens are telling of the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1). “The whole earth is full of His glory” (Isaiah 6:3). Jesus, according to Hebrews 1:13, is the radiance of His glory. Ephesians and Colossians reveal that the mystery with the inclusion of the Gentiles and Christ in us is also a part of His glory and perhaps most relevant in the context of this prayer. All of this and more make up the riches of the glory of God, the source from which our prayer will be answered. In view of all of this, to declare that we have grounds for confidence and faith as we pray would be a vast understatement. Upon this platform, we consider exactly what we are praying to receive.
…to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man… Jesus foretold that the spirit would facilitate his dwelling within us and serve as our helper. Here we see that God can strengthen us with power by means of the spirit. The inner man is contrasted with the outer man in 2Corinthians 4:16; the outer is decaying but the inner is renewed day by day.
We pray that God would strengthen us in our inner man so that Christ may dwell in our hearts, the seat or core of our mind and being. The heart is the control center of our lives. Proverbs 4:23 declares – “Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flowthe springs of life.” The heart determines everything about our lives, so the centrality of Christ is most vital. The daily fight for the devout Christian is Christ-mindedness, contrasted with worldly-mindedness. Paramount to our thought life is the focus of our eyes and ears. If we want Christ in our hearts, we must limit worldly influences and dwell on that which is contained in the Scriptures. Our limited human abilities coupled with the onslaught in the world can be disheartening, but the prayer is for our Father to draw from the resources of His glory to strengthen us with power so that Christ can dwell in our minds. We cannot do it on our own, but He can if we have faith and pray. By His grace, we can have Christ dwell in our hearts!
...so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love… Christ-mindedness automatically generates love. If Christ is in our heart, love is in our life.Some deem Ephesians the epistle of love (the word “love” occurs 15 times). We were chosen to be holy and blameless before Him in love (1:4). God called us because of His great love with which He loved us (2:4). Each individual and the whole church grow together as we love (4:15 and 16). To be “rooted” is to be deep-seated in love, entrenched and completely attached like the roots of a mighty oak. “Grounded” is to have a solid foundation as the support and the base of all our doings.
...may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth… Since verse 17 ends with “grounded in love” and verse 19 begins with “and to know the love of Christ,” we are not remiss to conclude that the comprehension sought is for the manifold dimensions of love. Yet, the introduction of the prayer should stay in mind since it directs us back to the information written before the prayer. God also wants us to comprehend fully these other extraordinary supernatural concepts, such as we went from dead in trespasses and sins to alive with Christ, children of wrath to children of His inheritance, from the dead to raised and exalted to sit together with Christ in heavenly places. We went from uncircumcised Gentiles (outsiders) without Christ, aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world to access unto the Father, no more strangers and foreigners but fellow citizens with the saints and of the household of God. We are now the habitation of God. We are fellow heirs, fellow members, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ. The manifold dimensions include the unsearchable riches of Christ, manifold wisdom of God, and God’s eternal purpose. In order for us to understand the magnitude of all this, God must help, so we pray.
The prerequisites for comprehension of the many dimensions are PRAYER that 1) God strengthens us so that 2) Christ dwells within the heart, 3) we are rooted and grounded in love, and 4) we endeavor with all the saints. Understanding concerning love cannot be gained with one’s own academic pursuit. An intellectual pursuit is indeed needed, but so is God’s help gained by prayer and interaction with other saints. Many brilliant, ambitious, and determined biblical scholars have gone astray because they isolated themselves and did not endeavor to comprehend with all the saints. It is impossible to comprehend love without interaction with others. We must share love to know love.
…and to know the love of Christ, which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. To know something that surpasses knowledge seems impossible. Love and knowledge are not mutually exclusive; rather, true knowledge is vital to love. Philippians 1:9 states, “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment.” Knowledge and application are essential but not enough to know the love of Christ. God must reveal it to us, and thankfully, He is willing and able to do so. The Epistles’ prayers impressively make known our Father’s desire for His children to know Him and to have our lives be all about Him. If we are to achieve the noble goals God has for us, three crucial measures working in unison must be consistent − study of the Scripture, prayer, and love. If one of these is absent or lacking, we will veer from the truth. The history of Judaism and Christianity document this to be so.
Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us,
Once again, we are provided with encouragement that bolsters our faith. That God would have the willingness and obvious ability to answer prayers more than we ask or think is staggering. For the words “exceeding abundantly beyond” to be used in the context of our prayer is almost incomprehensible. The prayer began by telling us that God would draw from the riches of His glory to help us and concludes with these astounding words. We must have faith that Yahweh will answer as we pray. Paul ends his prayer with praise for God, which should be our aim in all we do.
…to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.