Monday, July 1, 2013

Paul's Prayer



For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth 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—  to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. – Ephesians 3:14-19


There is such a warm feeling of love to hear a Christian brother or sister pray for you, to hear their words laid on the ears of God, as their heart opens to what they feel about you and their desires for you.  Prayer for each other is love in action.  While we often refer to prayer as a last recourse, with expressions such as “well, all we can do is pray”, surely there is nothing greater we can do for each other, given that our words are received by Almighty God.

Paul, on bended knee, prays for us, the Body of Christ, in Ephesians 3.  His words are rich in meaning beyond what we usually comprehend when we hear them.  Just the fact that he prays on his knees tells us that he is in a position of humbleness, seeking to persuade God with his words.

He first identifies who he is praying to, and who he is praying for.  He says “I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named”.  Christians bear the name of Jesus Christ, the son of God the Father.  Paul, on bended knee is interceding for us.

He then prays for our strength and growth through Jesus’s righteous glory and His Spirit living within us.  He says “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being ROOTED and GROUNDED in love”.  Through salvation we become the temple of the Holy Spirit as we receive His Holy Spirit into our hearts. 

The word “rooted” is from the Greek word “rhizoō “, which means to strike (or grow) roots.  When a seed is first put into the ground, the old seed must decay, die away as the old man, to begin to create roots, and become something new.  To be rooted, a living plant receives nourishment from its roots, and grows into what it was uniquely designed by its creator to be. A corn kernel becomes a corn stalk, and an acorn becomes an oak tree, as they were uniquely designed to be.  Paul’s desire is that we cast off the old sinful nature, become rooted in God’s love, and grow into our individually unique design.

To be “grounded” is translated to the Greek word “themelioō” which is an architectural word meaning to provide stability, to settle, and to establish a foundation.  Paul’s prayer for us is that, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we would become settled, as if our feet were concretely set in our relationship with God through His love, unshakeable and firm in our faith.

But Paul continues his prayer by expressing why he desires to see us grow strong and firm in our faith.  He gives two reasons for which he desires to see our growth and faith. 

He first says “may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—  to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge”. To comprehend the love of God is impossibility as it is without measure, but it can be described in part.  The ways in which Paul seeks to have us measure it expressed as a temple, with measurements given to its size before it is built.  To describe width, or breadth, is to describe the extent, which encompasses the entire world (John 3:16).  To know its length is to know that it is eternal (Psalms 136:1-26).  To know its depth is to understand that His love stretches down to the lowest sinner (Romans 5:8, John 3:16 “whosoever”).  To know its height is to know that we will be seated with Christ on the throne (Revelation 20:4, Ephesians 2:6). 

The second reason Paul gives for his prayer is “that you may be filled with all the fullness of God”. The fullness of God (which is translated to “theos” in Greek) is found in the trinity of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  We first receive the love of God through justification, which is the gift of salvation from God the Son, Jesus Christ.  We are joined to God through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.   Paul’s desire was that we fully experience the unique relationship of being God’s child, and having Jesus as our brother.  Living in that relationship allows us to “to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge”.  How great is that love in that He chose, while we were violently evil, to give us life and adoption into His very own divine family!

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