What a great introduction we’ve had from both Lynn and Ann on this wonderful epistle of Paul’s. Ann mentioned how much I love Ephesians and one of the reasons is that Paul is prayerful throughout it. It starts with a prayer, includes a couple of great prayers (chapter 1 and 3) and then ends with prayer. And I love to pray!
Now we come to Chapter 3. I want to focus on the prayer that ends this chapter because it’s one of my favourites and one I pray often.
The First Half
The chapter starts with Paul sharing how God told Paul to bring the gospel to everyone, and not just to the Jews. As we know this caused a dispute with the disciples and Paul (with the Spirit’s help) had to win them over. As Paul states in verse 6, the Gospel is for everyone, and is ‘welcoming to everyone’. I love that notion of welcoming.
Paul sees his role is to help everyone to understand the mysteries of God, ‘to make plain’ what God has been doing all along.
There’s more to learn in those opening verses but I really want to spend time on this great prayer. We’re at the halfway point of his letter and here he brings us back to prayer. The epistle pivots after this prayer.
Firstly, I invite you to read it. Here it is in NIVUK version:
“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 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, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
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.”
And simply sit with it. And read it again. IS there a word or a statement that jumps out or shimmers for you? If yes, ask God about it. What might He be saying to you?
A few points that I especially love about it are:
- Paul kneels before the Father, this magnificent Father (MSG version). Straight away, Paul adopts a posture of surrender, acknowledging who He is praying to. It’s simply breathtaking. I’ve been challenged in recent weeks that I’ve been a little too casual with God, adopting the ‘human’ aspect of Jesus’ nature and not reflecting enough on His divinity.
- Paul intercedes for the Ephesian church (and us) with four powerful statements: ‘strengthen you with power through His Spirit’, ‘Christ may dwell in our hearts’, ‘that we grasp how wide …’ and finally, ‘may be filled with His fullness.’ They’re powerful statements to pray. I encourage you to pray these over yourselves, your family and community.
- This is a highly relational prayer. It’s a prayer that demonstrates the prayer, Paul, has a close bond with God. He asks God to give more of Himself to the church of Ephesus. He doesn’t pray for healing, for provision, but He asks God for more of Himself. I think one of the great reasons why we struggle to pray is we’ve grown up with a transactional view of prayer. We ask God for things. Don’t get me wrong, God wants us to pray these prayers but what happens when we don’t receive what we’ve prayed for? We lose interest in prayer? But prayer is highly relational. Paul demonstrates that for us.
- Fullness of God. Wow! How does healing come? How are our needs met? How do we evangelise? How do our spouses find Jesus? With the fullness of God. Think of yourself overflowing with the fullness of love. God is love! That’s His essence. If we’re overflowing with His fullness, we become incredibly attractive to everyone. Because people see God in us!
- What does fullness bring? Immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine! Wow! I want that fullness. It makes me weak at the knees just picturing it. God wants to pour through and out of us with Himself. The fullness of His love.
The prayer ends with a desire for God to be glorified by the church. Church is very very important to God. And therefore, to Paul. The divine and human elements of the church. With His power flowing through us, His community, His church is glorified.
Let me stop there. I could go on as there is so much ion this great prayer. May I invite you to pray it over the next few days. Pray it boldly and with reverence and we might be surprised how God moves us all.
Why not share in the comments what particularly stood out for you as you read this chapter. We'll see you there.
Go well, dear Sumites. Grace and peace.