There are many prayers recorded in the Bible. When we look, we find the Prayer of Jabez in 1 Chronicles 4:9-10, the prayer Jesus prayed before going to the cross in John 17, as well there are many prayers in the Psalms and more than ten of Paul’s prayers printed in the Bible. But, the one we want to focus on this week is found in Ephesians chapter 3, Paul again tells us what he prayed for the Church. He says in verses 16-19, “16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.”
He starts out his prayer by asking God to empower us. A more literal translation is “that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man.” We have seen this word he uses for power before. It is the Greek word, δύναμις, δυνάμεως, ἡ; dynamis; (dü’-nä-mēs) From the Strong’s Concordance: (from Homer down); the Sept. for חַיִל, גְּבוּרָה, עֹז, כֹּחַ, צָבָא (an army, a host); strength, ability, power; a. universally, “inherent power, power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature, or which a person or thing exerts and puts forth”: Luke 1:17; Acts 4:7. This is an inherent power, it is innate within God, and it is the root word for our word, dynamite.
So, Paul is praying that we can be strengthened with this power. If you remember, this isn’t the first time that Paul prayed this. Back in Ephesians 1:18-19 Paul said, “19 I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power 20 that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.” Paul is praying that God would strengthen us with the same innate, explosive power that raised Jesus from the dead and seated Him at the right hand of the Father…Wow!
But, he says that he wants us to be strengthened by the Holy Spirit in the inner man. We all know the importance of strengthening our outer man, but it is equally important, actually more so, that we strengthen our inner man. The only way we can strengthen our inner man is to spend quality time studying the Word and praying. And, He’s not going to just give us some of this power, He is going to give it according to the riches of His glory…that’s a lot!
He goes on to say that as we gain this power, then Christ will make His home in our hearts and our roots will grow deep in God’s love to make us strong. The Psalmist also compared us to a tree. He said in the first chapter of Psalms that those of us who delight in the law of the Lord and meditate on it all the time will be “like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.” Again, we strengthen that inner man by delighting in the Word of God and meditating on it day and night.
In verse 18 Paul says that through this power we may be able to understand the length and width and depth of God’s love, but then in verse 19 he says that we could never fully understand it. Once we have gained that power and understood His great love, to the extent that we can, we will be made complete. You see, that is the only way we will ever be made complete because without Christ we can never be complete. There is a hole in our soul that only Jesus can fill.
Now, let’s check out the end of his prayer. In verses 20-21 Paul says, “20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.” Not only can this Dynamis power strengthen us and empower us, but it can accomplish INFINITELY more than we could even ask for. In fact, this power can do more than we could even imagine. Now, I have a pretty good imagination, but God’s Power can do more than I can even dream up…that’s a lot.
This isn’t just the end of this prayer, it is wrapping up every blessing spoken in these first three chapters. God can do all of this because He can do far beyond our ability to ask or think. One translation says that God can do “exceeding abundantly” above what we can ask or think. Charles H. Spurgeon had this to say about that phrase, “He has constructed here in the Greek an expression which is altogether his own. No language was powerful enough for the apostle, – I mean for the Holy Ghost speaking through the apostle, – for very often Paul has to coin words and phrases to shadow forth his meaning, and here is one, ‘He is able to do exceeding abundantly,’ so abundantly that it exceeds measure and description.” In Jeremiah 32:27 God said, “I am the Lord, the God of all the peoples of the world. Is anything too hard for me?” The answer is a resounding NO!
Paul ends this prayer by giving praise to God because, at the end of the day, that’s why we are here.