Ephesians

Ephesians 3:14-21 Paul's Prayer

PAUL'S PRAYER (v14-19): “For this reason” (he is returning to the thought of v1 after the digression of v2-13, when he was thinking of Ephesians 2:21,22: “in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy Temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit”) I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth (believers in glory and on earth all form one family) is named that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith that you, being rooted and grounded in love may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the WIDTH and LENGTH and DEPTH and HEIGHT - and to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

DOXOLOGY (v20,21): “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly 
above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 
to Him be glory in the Church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

The ultimate aim of this prayer (because we are God’s Temple, God’s Dwelling-Place) is that we: “may be filled with all the fullness of God” (v19). God’s will is the manifestation of God’s “Glory in the Church” (v21) but God does this in response to prayer. Such a great thing can only be done by God Himself, hence Paul prays: “I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (in humility acknowledging Him as the only Source). Since He does it all He must get all the glory: “to Him be glory in the Church forever.” The more God works the more we must give Him the glory and not take the glory yourself, otherwise we short-circuit the power. Thus this prayer starts and ends like the Lord’s prayer, as all prayer should, in giving God all the praise and glory. 
This is a model prayer for us to pray for ourselves and for others.


It is such a big prayer that Paul finishes with a Doxology confirming God’s ability to answer, building our confidence in God’s power by building up a creschendo of superlatives:
(1) “He is able to do”
(2) “He is able to do what we ask”
(3) “He is able to do what we ask or think”
(4) “He is able to do all that we ask or think”
(5) “He is able to do more than we ask or think”
(6) “He is able to do abundantly more than we ask or think”
(7) “He is able to do abundantly more than we ask or think”
(8) “He is able to do exceeding abundantly more than we ask or think”

Whatever God wills, He also has the power to do. When we pray, we need to meditate on these strong affirmations so that we believe God’s power is at work answering our prayer.

The limiting or controlling factor is
: “according to the power that works in us.” This is the dominion-power that raised Jesus from the dead and exalted Him far above all things (1:20-22).  What God can do for us depends on what we let God do in us. Any limitation is on our side. 

To what degree do we let God’s power work in us?    It is according to the faith we have and the faith we release toward God. It is: “the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe” (1:19).   In other words it depends on our ‘thinking’ and ‘asking.’ This doxology challenges us each time we pray this prayer to continually expand our expectant thinking, believing and asking. We don’t just pray this once but again and again because God can always do more than what we asked for before. Each time we ask according to an enlarged imagination, reaching out for and appropriating more of the ability the Spirit gives. 

God has chosen to work through our asking and thinking.  That’s why we need the WORD and PRAYER. God’s two great means are Preaching (which reveals the Plan) and Praying (which releases the Power). He brings people into His Purpose by PREACHING and brings people into His Power through PRAYING.

(1) RIGHT THINKING. We need to hear the PREACHING of the Word and MEDITATE 
upon the Word. The Word straightens and enlarges our thinking to see God’s Plans, 
Purposes and Promises. We need our minds renewed by the Word to see things God’s way (letting go of our small thinking - Isaiah 55:8-11). Paul has been giving the Word (revealing God’s Plan) in Eph 2, but he realises that rightthinking is not enough so now he also prays.

(2) RIGHT ASKING. What is also needed is PRAYER to release the working of His power (James 5:16). We have to ask the Tri-une God to fill us. If we don’t receive, James 4:2 says it’s because we don’t ask, probably because we are satisfied with where we are at. But once we get the vision of what God can and wants to do in and through us, we will get on our knees and ask Him to fill us, His power is there in us but He needs our co-operation in prayer for it to be operative in and through us because He respects our free-will. So this is a model prayer for us to release God’s power in our own lives and others people’s lives.

Oue asking and thinking must go together. We can’t ask beyond our thinking. When we pray we must be able to imagine, visualise and expect the answer. We must let God sanctify, stretch and enlarge our imagination through His Word and Spirit. As we hear Him speak to us, our thinking is renewed by His Word and then we pray and speak out His Word returning it to Him (Isaiah 55:11). In this way His power works through us.

The prayer contains five requests describing a progression resulting in being filled with the fullness of God (v16-19): “that He (FATHER) would grant you, according to the riches of His glory (He has a limitless supply of power and blessing available for you!)”

(1) “to be strengthened (made strong with ‘kratos’ power that overcomes all opposition) with might (‘dunamis’ power that is ready to go to be released into action) through His SPIRIT in the inner man.” You can’t live the Christian life in your own strength. You need power to live for Christ in a world going the other way. Thus you need to invite the Holy-Spirit (who already indwells your spirit) to impart His strength to your heart (the control centre of your soul) forming a strong will, purpose, and conscience in God. 

(2) “that CHRIST may dwell 
(be at home) in your hearts through faith.” 
Then the Presence of Christ will come in by His Spirit and make His home in your heart, being enthroned there, possessing it’s reins. Thus we ask for the spirit of Christ - of love, joy and peace to rule in our hearts.

(3) “that you, being rooted and grounded 
(established) in love.” We receive this power to be strengthened to love. Our lives are to be like a tree deeply rooted in the soil of love. Our life is to be like a building built on a firm foundation of love. This speaks of a settled condition of heart filled with and governed by love, so that all actions proceed from love.

(4)
 “may be able to comprehend with all the saints (we are in this together and need each other) what is the WIDTH(God’s grace extends to all people, provides for all needs and hopes) and LENGTH (His grace began with His plan in eternity past and continues into an eternity future of glory) and DEPTH (His grace is demonstated in the depth of suffering Christ endured for our salvation) and HEIGHT (His depth brought us into the heights of God’s riches of grace)and to know (experientially and personally) the LOVE of Christ (which motivated Him to be so gracious to us) which surpasses knowledge (it is infinite so we will take all eternity to discover it all!) We need the Spirit’s strengthening for this -

(5) “that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness 
(perfection) of God.” This is the ultimate purpose: to be filled with the fullness of His grace, so that His perfect character is manifested in us. As more of Christ’s grace and love is revealed to us we’re being changed from glory to glory into His perfection of character (2Cor 3:18). We are progressively being filled with the Divine Nature and Life (2Peter 1:4), especially His perfect love, until the day we are glorified and fully Christ-like.

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