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A Prayer for Spiritual Depth – Ephesians 3:14-21

This is the second of three prayers in this short epistle. In the first, Paul spoke of the Resurrection Power of God at work in the believer. In this prayer, he expands on that theme. There are many superlatives in this prayer. All of them derive from God’s greatness – and all of them have an impact on our lives as we walk with Him.

The Name of God

For this reason, I kneel before the Father, from whom His whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. – Ephesians 3:14-15

In the verses just before, Paul wrote of God’s purpose for us to become objects lessons in making His wisdom known among the principalities and powers in the heavenly places. Obviously, something wonderful must happen for us to reach such a high standard!

The prayer begins with recognition that our very identity comes from the Father Himself. Perhaps Colossians 3:17 (And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.) has greater significance than doing all things “by the authority of” the Lord. If our very name comes from God, could Paul there mean that we are always to live in that name? If so, the thought would be similar to what he goes on to state in Ephesians 4:1. “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.”

We are always to live with recognition that we are children of God, not the children of the culture around us.

How are we to do that?

Strengthened with Power

It will not be in our power. Paul prays for spiritual power through His Spirit in your inner being. This power is measured by the standard of (according to, KJV) God’s own glorious riches. God’s Spirit in us strengthens us to do the things we could never do in our own power. Look at the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

To love others, even enemies, as we love ourselves – to find joy in pain – to have peace in turbulence – to have patience with all – to show kindness when abused and goodness to all – to be loyal in adversity – to be gentle when others rail on you – and in all things to exercise self-control and restraint: is this the work of a mere man? Or is this possible only by the Spirit of God in your inner being.

If there is any question that the Holy Spirit actually indwells the Christian, this prayer should settle it. The literal translation of the last phrase is His Spirit into your inner being. Yes, that into is eis – the same word Peter used in Acts 2:38 when he said to be baptized for the forgiveness of sins.

That Christ May Dwell in Your Hearts

The activity of the Spirit has an objective: that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith (Ephesians 3:17). The indwelling of the Spirit and the indwelling of the Christ go hand in hand. Without Christ, we cannot have the Spirit, for Christ sent the Spirit. Without the Spirit, we cannot have the Christ, for the Spirit always points to the Christ and leads us into His paths.

There is perfect harmony among all within the Godhead. There is no competition, but God works consistently. When we walk in faith and in love, we also walk harmoniously with the Deity.

To Know the Knowledge-Surpassing Love

Paul’s prayer continues:

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. – Ephesians 3:17-19

How can you know a love that surpasses knowledge?

I illustrate this by asking a class if they have seen the ocean. Since I live in Florida, I nearly always get 100% affirmatives. I continue by asking where they saw it – and suggesting that they only saw it to the horizon. Then I talk about flying across the ocean to New Zealand or to Europe – but point out that, though my horizon was greater than when I saw the ocean from the beach and though that horizon moved along the flight path of the airplane, I still just saw a limited portion of the ocean. I then suppose I am an astronaut in a polar orbit that takes me across the entire surface of the globe so that I would have visibly seen all of the oceans of the world – but I still would only have seen the ocean’s surface. There are still depths that I would not have plumbed. Yet, I have seen the ocean.

In this prayer, Paul speaks of the width, length, height, and depth of the love of Christ. His love is as wide as the world, as long as eternity, as high as the heavens, and far deeper than the sea. In a lifetime, I will not comprehend His love fully. He will continue to amaze me with the greatness of His love for me. What is amazing, is that my love for you is to be as His love for me.

But do I know His love? Yes, I do. I see it in every line of Scripture; I experience it in Christian fellowship and friendship. I feel it in my soul when He lifts me from the depths of despair or discouragement. My perception is shallow and incomplete – but day by day, I come to know it more fully. Then one day, I will see Him as He is and will know Him as He knows me.

Filled With the Fullness of God

When I simply think about the magnitude of His love, I can see why Paul prayed that I come to know it. Otherwise, I could never stretch to the point that I could be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

How great is that fullness? Listen to the doxology at the conclusion of the prayer:

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, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. – Ephesians 3:20-21

How can such a One as God be glorified by such a one as I?

It can only be according to His power that is at work within us (v.20). The earlier prayer in Ephesians 1:19-20 informs us that His power working in the believer is the same power He used in raising Jesus from the dead.

This Resurrection Power is what enables me to glorify God and to have genuine spiritual depth.

NEXT: Worthy of Your Calling – Ephesians 4:1-16

PREVIOUS: The Grace Given Me – Ephesians 3:1-13


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