Vol. 5, No. 9
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This prayer is found in Ephesians 3:14-19. In this prayer Paul said that he "bowed his knees to the Father," indicating that he put himself in some humble position, perhaps kneeling when he went to God on their behalf. After pointing out that the "whole family in heaven and earth" is named for the Lord Jesus Christ, Paul listed a number of things for which he prayed to God on behalf of these young developing Christians.
Firstly, Paul wanted these Christians to develop into strong and devoted Christians because he prayed that Christ, "according to the riches of his glory," that the "inner man" might be "strengthened with might through His Spirit." Paul wanted the "inner man," the spiritual man, of each of these Christians to be strengthened with the might, or power that comes through his Spirit. Spirit communicates with spirit as flesh communicates with flesh. The Holy Spirit, here called Christ's Spirit, communicates with the spirit of man as we dwell on and in his Word. It is the inner man in which God is vitally interested because the outward man perishes day by day.
Secondly, Paul prayed that through the communication of the Spirit with the inner man, Christ would "dwell in" their "hearts through faith." Here the definite article "the" is omitted from the translation, and what Paul is saying is that Christ would dwell in their hearts by the faith which the Holy Spirit would communicate to the inner man. How does the Holy Spirit communicate the faith to the inner man? That is done by the teaching of the divine Word of the living God. Personal faith comes from the understanding of "the faith, which was once delivered to the saints." If Christ dwelt in their hearts by the faith, it would give, among other things, them the ability to be rooted and grounded in love, the quality of beneficent good will toward others. And that is what Paul wanted for them.
Furthermore, having been rooted and grounded in love like the love of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, Paul prayed that they might be able to comprehend (mentally grasp) along with the other saints of the world, the width, length, depth and height "of the love of Christ which passes knowledge." To make an attempt to understand, or get a mental grasp upon the love of Christ, is something that staggers the imagination of any Christian. Often we hear people say, "I still cannot understand how Christ could love me so much as to go to the cross and die for me." The answer to that dilemma is love, but it is love that surpasses, or goes beyond, any kind of love that the world has ever seen. "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends," said Jesus himself in John 15:13. This is a kind of love that is so very rarely seen in the world, either in ancient times or in modern.
Lastly, Paul prayed that the Ephesians "may be filled with all the fullness of God." This part of the prayer of Paul is somewhat difficult. The word "fullness" as used in this passage is the same as the word "fullness" used in 1:23, where the church is referred to as "the fullness of Him who fills all in all." And it is used in 4:13 where Paul tells of the miraculous works that were set in the apostolic church until the Gospel was finally revealed. It comes from pleroma which means to bring full measure, to give in full to carry out fully, to discharge completely. This is the ultimate goal toward which the Gospel leads the saint. It is the goal toward which we look as we travel along the road of life. Someday we wish to be in the very presence of God, and to be filled with the fullness that fills him, that is, to have the inner man to stand in full heavenly perfection at last. The thing that caused the fall of man was his desire to be like gods, knowing good from evil. The thing that will cause the ultimate salvation of man is the deep desire to be like God as he is. (See: 1 John 3:1) Paul prayed that this might be the case with the brethren at Ephesus.
This prayer is powerful, and one could not even hope to make an exhaustive study of it in such a short time, but we pray that we have said enough to enrich your study of the Bible, and to enrich your prayer life.