Paul’s Greatest Prayer for You!
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family 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.
What do you want from God?
What do you expect God to do for you in life? What do you want Him to do for you? What is the very best that you could ask Him for? That is what Paul is asking for these people in this prayer.
Paul prays great big wonderful abundant life things for these folks here in these verses.
In a nutshell, He is praying for what these folks need to live the most fulfilling, meaningful, exciting great life possible. And in terms of degree, it is a life that is greater (better) than they can imagine and therefore, greater than they would ask for. God is going to exceed their expectations for the quality of their lives.
I tell people when I do premarital counselling, that somebody is going to have the best marriage possible. And it might as well be them, nothing stands in the way if we will just live following God’s commands for us!! This is the same kind of statement of Paul.
What does Paul pray?
- Be Strong in Spirit
May you be strengthened with power through the Holy Spirit in your inner being. May you be full of faith, hope and love!
The reason for this strength is mentioned as well:
- God is sovereign
Every family in heaven and on earth derives its name from God. He is the source of all life and being. He is the provider and protector. And He has put His imprint on us and the environment personally.
This idea sets up why it is a good idea to pray to Him and to trust in Him.
- God is rich v.16
Paul is praying God will supply what he is asking for out of His glorious riches. And it is riches of strength. God has lots of strength and ability to supply for people to do His will!
God has an abundant supply of whatever it is that Paul is getting ready to ask for. God is completely able. This is not hard for God. This is not gonna cost God a lot.
- God has great power accordingly
Paul is praying that there would be a transfer of power from God to you. This is an internal confidence and firmness that will give you the will, ability and direction that you need to fully follow the teachings and example of Jesus Christ. This is God’s will for your life. God has the provision of power through His grace to all men to accomplish His will. This is good news. We are not on our own. We should be confident!!
If we focus on God’s sovereignty, God’s riches, power and grace we will be strong. God is at work in our world and our lives. Be strong!!
I Cor 15:58 58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
Beyond praying that they would be strengthened by the Holy Spirit inside, Paul prays that these folks would know that they are fully loved.
- Know You are Fully Loved
Is it important to know that you are loved?
Perception is reality? They are at least connected. What we understand, we act upon. That is the point here. God’s desire for you is that you would trust Him when you can’t see Him but can see the implications of your faith in sacrifice.
- Three phases of growth
v.17 1. Rooted in love– Become aware of the love of God for you. The process of discovery, the great discovery, that you are precious to God. God reveals this and it is profound: COI at Sinai: Precious Treasure. Parent/Child. Brother-Friend with Christ. Co-Heir with Christ.
First year we sleep.
v.17 2. Established in love- We begin to walk in God’s love, we begin to understand the implications of that love for us. I really am loved, forgiven, blessed, enlightened. I learn to relax and gain victory over my fears. This is a change from discovery to celebration of God’s love.
Second year we creep.
v.18-19 3. Fully grasp God’s love- Four dimensions of love. There are only three dimensions right? Well, here we are. We fully grasp and stand in the love that God has for us. We are convinced of His love, understand that His love is really all that matters. We become a fortress, are unassailable. We rest in His love because we know that it is given freely by a Sovereign God who knows my weaknesses and loves me anyway. I am home and I will not move PERIOD. I will believe love and obey Jesus because I am loved!!
Third year we leap!
- Personally communicated by God
Know this love that surpasses knowledge.
I think this means God communicates it to us directly. Listen, our issues in life are personal!
- We have personal fears
- We have personal insecurities as a result (we become self- protective, self- promoting, and selfishly compete)
- We have personal weaknesses that we feel disqualify us from being loved or accepted by God.
And then we hear the message. First from others. They tell us that God loves us. And then we hear from God Himself. God says, “I love you.” I know everyone, I know everything. I know your true value better than you do. I love you. (Parent child relationship)
(Adopted concept: God has willfully chosen to love you)
Argue with His wisdom if you want, you will not change His mind.
One of the biggest misunderstandings in life is our feeling of the need to deserve God’s love and grace.
The sooner you get past the idea of deserving, the faster you can come to rest in the love that God has for you. God’s love is a gift given freely by Him. He can justly withhold it if He chose to, He is truly free, and He has chosen to love you. John 3:16. For God so loved!!!!!
- God says He has personal confidence for your fear. Look at Jesus on the cross. God proved His love for you in that while you were an enemy and sinful, He sent Christ to rescue you from yourself BEFORE YOU WERE EVEN INTERESTED!!! Love casts out fear because our punishment has already been taken away. God has taken the initiative to love you. He proved His love.
- God has personal security for your insecurity as a result. Love never fails. There is a reason God gives us the parent child metaphor. He is the One from whom EVERY family on earth derives its name. You will have a hard time hating people that you know God loves. You are secure. You can have real peace. Love never fails!
- We have personal strength in God. II Cor 12:7-10
Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
God knows all about you. You are loved. Get over thinking of yourself. Celebrate the love of God for you as your true measure of value.
Finally, because of the strength of the Holy Spirit in us and the direct understanding of the love of God for us, Paul prays that we would…
III. Be Filled Up By God
We need to let God fill us up.
It is being completely convinced of His love, wisdom, power and goodness that causes us to trust and not pull back and fill our desires with other things.
Filled and empowered by God to do His will, to reflect His character, to do the works prepared in advance for us. Confidence that God is at work in and through us even when we don’t know what is going on. Reflecting faith and love back that a sovereign, loving, holy God deserves. The reactions in Revelation to the Lamb slain for example.
This may seem far-fetched and difficult to believe, and so comes Paul’s benediction!
- God is more able than we know
Paul’s benediction: the last word concerning prayer v.20
Paul comes to the end of this section of Ephesians where he has gushed about the grace of God for him and for us. And he is obsessed with explaining the power of God at work on our behalf.
What do you need? God is able.
If you are walking down the wrong path? God is able to set you right.
If you are paralyzed by fear? God is able to set you free.
Whatever you might image your inabilities or disqualifications are, God is able, more than able.
- God’s work is greater than your imagination
What will be the result of God’s grace in your life?
What is the outcome?
What would you ask for it to be?
What would you imagine it to be? (Sneak peek back at 3:10-11.
10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.
What does it mean? Something beyond your imagination perhaps?) Why does CS Lewis write his space trilogy?
- Paul’s personal experience with God
Talk to people who know that God loves them.
When God shows it to you, you remember. Sophomore year in high school, campus crusade.
Valley Christian Outreach meeting at first Assembly.
Walking down the hallway of the church here. When God touches your life in personal ways, His love is the power of the communication.
Paul knows what it is like to rebel against God, to work against Him with all of his might. Paul knows what it is like to be arrogant, self confident and wrong. Paul knows what it is like to commit much time, effort and energy into a life that amounts to fighting God. Paul knows the worst of our human experience. Because of this negative place of beginning, because of His sin, Paul knows God’s grace is better than anything else. God knows that God’s love, power, wisdom and goodness cannot be overcome, defeated, surpassed or even described very well by people. But, God is real and may be experienced by those who will walk in faith and love before Him. Will you do this? If you will trust and follow Jesus Christ, then you will be full of God. You will have the life that God has for you. You will reflect His character!! How could God possibly do this when you are a sinner? That’s easy. He loves you.