There is a prayer in the 3rd chapter of Ephesians, that, if you tear it apart word by word, phrase by phrase, it is nearly breathtaking:
14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whomwevery family1 in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according toxthe riches of his glory yhe may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit zin your inner being, 17 aso that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being brooted andcgrounded in love, 18 may have strength to dcomprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and eheight and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ fthat surpasses knowledge, that gyou may be filled with all hthe fullness of God.
20 iNow to jhim who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, kaccording to the power at work within us, 21 lto him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
I am struck by so much in this very earnest, real prayer that I could write a multitude of pages of study on this passage. But what I want to focus on here is strength and love.
Basically what we see in verse 16 is that the author is praying that God will grant that we will be strengthened in our inner being–in our soul. Grant. Not a word we use commonly. It implies that God will bestow upon us this strength in our soul. He is the only one who can do such a thing. There is no other. Sure, we may be encouraged and strengthened even, by a friends words, and we do need that, desperately at times. But really, if I am reading this right, only God can grant that we be strengthened in our inner being.
O, please God, how I need you to strengthen my inner being, my soul!
But why do we need this gift of strength from our God? The next section of this passage answers that question–it is answered by the word love. We need God to strengthen us so that we can comprehend God’s love for us.
This love is so overwhelming, that Paul prays that we will be strengthened in order to comprehend, to understand, to know that there are no boundaries to how much God loves his children. Us. Me.
And we are to know that the love of God surpasses all knowledge. O, that is a difficult thing for me. I love knowledge. I do a lot of study about God, a lot of reading books about God, but very rarely do I remove my student hat and focus on the idea that God loves me, to the extent that Paul has to pray that we–that I–will be strengthened in my soul in order to comprehend it. And to be rooted and grounded in love.
All of this, so That you-that I- may be filled with all the fullness of God. My soul.
There is much that can be written about the last section of Paul’s prayer, verses 20-21. But I will save that for a separate post.
Last night was a night cut short by a violent nightmare that left me, as they often do, wondering if God sees and knows. If God sees my nightmares and how could He possibly love me anyway, in spite of them and in spite of who I am. I am beyond tired of nightmares. I need God’s strengthening of my inner soul and a fresh reminder, a new sense that God so loved me, that He gave His only son–my Jesus. I need a fresh reminder of the Gospel.
My soul is tired. I am tired. I pray for sleep tonight, uninterrupted sleep and peace. Good grief, I am so tired that it is almost funny. But not really.
I encourage you to listen to an excellent message on this passage that was preached by our Senior Associate Pastor, Dr. Gene Cornett, just last week during our Wednesday night service. You can find the audio by clicking here. But be prepared to find yourself, after listening, wanting to dig into this prayer for both yourself , your family and your church.