An Inspired Prayer

A Lesson in Praying for Others

14 For these reasons I fall to the ground on bended knees facing upward to the Father. 15 From Him every father’s family is named, whether in the celestialum or upon the earth. 16 I so pray that the Father may make you Ephesians strong within the inner person in spiritual mightiness through the wealth of His glorious power. 17 I pray the Christ will reside within your hearts because of your faith and love. 18 You Ephesians have strong roots and are well founded, so that you will have the combined strength with all the Saints; and with all the Saints seize from above the cosmic dimensions -- breadth, length, height, depth -- of Christ’s love. 19 And to comprehend the transcendental ‘knowing’ of Christ so you may be completely filled with all the wholeness of God. 20 Now I pray: To the One who answers every request infinitely beyond every superabundance and beyond anything we can mentally conceive according to that dynamic energizing with us: 21 Glory to Him by means of the Church and by means of Christ Jesus, throughout all eternal generations. Amen. [Ephesians 3:14-21 NCMM Paraphrase]

Paul writes to the Romans that some times Christians do not know what to pray for. [Romans 8:26] Often when we approach our Father in prayer we may be at a loss for words. Even Christ’s apostles asked, “Teach us how to pray.” [Matthew 6:8] Happily we have many recorded prayers in the Bible - including many of the psalms. We have our Lord’s prayer, or the Model Prayer. And, we also have his longest recorded prayer in John chapter 17. We also have several prayers that appear in the writings of Luke [Acts of the Apostles] and in Paul’s epistles. One of his written prayers to the congregation in Ephesus is a master role model of an inspired prayer.

We can only benefit from a close meditation on this prayer in Ephesians 314-21.

Ephesians 3:14 Because of this I bend my knees facing toward the Father, Ephesians 3:15 from whom every fatherhood in heaven and upon earth is named,

Right off we learn that Paul often prayed on his knees. It is said of another disciple of the Nazarene - his own half-brother - that he prayed so often for the People of Israel that “his knees were like those of a camel.” Here begins Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians and all future members of the Church. We see Paul in his prison cell, fingers stained black by ink, parchment scattered around him, eyes gazing out his cell bars to the heavens -- thinking only of the Ephesians and the triumphant glory of the Church in Christ. The KJV text adds to these above verses, “... of our Lord Jesus Christ.” But this portion is lacking in Nestle-Aland and Westcott-Hort Greek texts.

Like Jesus in his model prayer to his apostles Paul begins with the Father. [Matthew 6:9] he describes the God and Father as the Source or Origin of “every fatherhood in heaven and upon earth.” The Greek is ex ou pasa patria ... onomazetai. The thought is that all those who are the progeny of the Father in heaven, and all those produced by fathers on earth, owe their “name” or lineage to the one Father of all created beings. Others render this phrase as: KJV: from whom the whole family in heaven and earth; TCN: from whom all ‘fatherhood’ in heaven and on earth; KNX: takes it title; TCN: derives its name. There is one universal family of angelic sons and spiritual children on earth who name a single Father.

Receiving Within from the Abundance of God’s Power

Ephesians 3:16 so that He might give to you (Ephesians) the glorious riches of His dynamism to be made mighty through His Pneuma within the inner person,

Paul focuses or concentrates his prayer on his Ephesian brothers and sisters. He prays that this part of the Nazarene community will be given “the glorious riches of [God’s] dynamic power.” That is: KJV: riches of his glory; WEY: in accordance with the wealth of His glorious perfections; PME: out of the glorious riches of his resources. He means, not just a little bit of God’s power, but the entire wealth and abundance of that divine energy - the very same energy that created the universe and that raised Christ from the dead.

The result of such infusion of divine energy is “to be made might through His Pneuma within the inner person.” This phrasing is also rendered: KJV: to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; WEY: with the power permeating your inmost being; PME: to know the strength of the Spirit’s inner reinforcement.

God does not just give a person external, physical strength to do His, but also an inner empowerment and validation that causes the Nazarene disciple to do things beyond what is normal.

Christ Resides in a Well-founded Heart

Ephesians 3:17 the Christ taking up residence in your hearts because of your faith in love; you (Ephesians) having been rooted and founded,

The very idea that the Nazarene, Lord Messiah, resides within the heart is enough to weaken the knees, and thus Paul’s praying on his knees. Yes, he confirms that “the Christ has taken up residence in our hearts.” Other render this phrase: KJV: that Christ may dwell in your hearts; TCN: so that Christ, through your faith, may make his home within your heart sin love; PME: that Christ may actually live; TAY: I pray that Christ will be more at home in your hearts.

Christ is not just passive in this heart-residence but actually behaves as something of an umpire as Colossians 3:15 states. So, the Christian not only has the natural hard-wiring of the God-given conscience [Romans 2:15, 16], but also within the Christian the very presence of the Lord Jesus. It is clear from Paul’s words that this Christine occupancy only occurs within those who are characterized by deep conviction and loving concern for others. [1 John 3:23]

This is not just a passive feeling of belief and love, but it is deeply “rooted and founded” on the love of God and Christ. [Or, KJV: rooted and grounded in love; WEY: having your roots deep and your foundations strong in love; TCN: firmly rooted and established; PME: now firmly fixed in love; TAY: may your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love.

Shared Strength and Universal Comprehension

Ephesians 3:18 so that you might have the strength together with all the Saints to grasp what is the breadth and length and height and depth, Ephesians 3:19 to know surpassing knowledge of the love of Christ, so that you might be filled with all the fullness of The God.

A person alone feels helpless. But the very same individual may feel empowered and strengthened when backed up by associates of like-mind. And so Paul prays that “you might have the strength together.” The united strength for what? Paul says, “mighty enough to grasp [together] … the universal dimensions” of God’s love in Christ. The lone individual may not feel this all-encompassing love, but when united in harmony with others of like-mind suddenly there is an immense strength. This use of words may possibly be a phrase from the Stoics describing ‘the totality of the cosmos.’ The dimensions are cubic.

These universal dimensions involve knowledge, but here Paul prayers that they “know [the] surpassing knowledge of Christ’s love.” [Or, KJV: the love of Christ which passeth knowledge; MON: may know the love of Christ which transcends all knowing; NOR: really beyond human understand; PME: that love so far beyond our comprehension.] Knowing this kind of love leads to complete fulfillment and satisfaction. Paul describes it as “filled with all of God’s fullness.” [Or, TCNT: filled to the full with God himself; KNX: with all the completion God has to give.] Note the same language is used of Christ at Colossians 2:9. The joyous goal of every disciple of Christ is to be completely filled with God so that “God may be everything to everyone.” (1 Corinthians 15:28 MOF) This is that ultimate state of future New Age, but it begins with the Church millennia before the Thousand Years begin.

Deep Conviction in God’s Power

Ephesians 3:20 To the One who is able to do immeasurably beyond whatever we request or mentally perceive according to the dynamic inner-energy within us - Ephesians 3:21 to Him the glory in the Ecclesia and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations of the eons of Eons. Amen. [Ephesians 3:14-21 NCMM Literal]

Paul prayers that all the Saints have deep conviction in what God is able to due for all in the Church. Our own imaginations cannot even begin to conceive God’s power in behalf of the Saints. Other versions read: KJV: exceedingly abundantly above; GDSP: unutterably more than; NEB: immeasurably more than. Our trust in God exists despite the fact that we cannot “mentally perceive” all that God could do. The Greek is a philosophical technical term, nooumen and means to “mentally see” something. Paul has used a related term in Ephesians 3:4, noesai, to see mentally.

Our God is able to put his “dynamic inner-energy within us.” The Greek is dynamin ten energoumenen. Others render the phrase: KJV: the power that worketh in us; RHM: the power which doth energise itself within us; RSV: by the power which is at work within us. Paul’s language is a way of describing God’s Pneuma or Spirit that works within the Christian. God’s Pneuma has been compared by Paul to His Mind. [1 Corinthians 2:16] Now when God thinks so as to express His will, His own inner-energy exerts a pressure on the object of His will and purpose. It has been compared to the wind pressing against the sails of boat. This is dynamic in that this Pressures moves, or motivates, the person within to accomplish His will.

Prayers That Praise God

Paul concludes his prayer in behalf of the Ephesian congregation with praise of the One who can do beyond anything we can conceive or comprehend. Though the honor goes to the God [HO THEOS] but the honor also comes about by means of the Church and Christ Jesus. Paul has earlier mentioned the Church as an agency or instrument in glorifying God. [Ephesians 2:1-7; 3:10, 11]

Thus the God will be glorified through the Church and Christ Jesus “throughout all generations of the eons of Eons.” [Or, KJV: throughout all ages, world without end; ASV: all generations for ever and ever; TCNT: for all generations age after age.] There is a strong inference that Ecclesiastes 1:4 is an eternal principle: humankind will continue to generate new human beings throughout the endless ages. Since the planet earth could never accommodate such population increases, homes must be found elsewhere in the Universe. Thus, we can imagine an entire Cosmos peopled by those for whom “God is everything to everyone.” The Church with its Head and Lord Christ will always remain a cause of “glory and honor and power” to the Almighty God as the Creator. [Revelation 4:11]

In the process of taking a close look at this inspired prayer we learn about several of the subjects that ought to characterize our own prayers.

Our prayers may never be considered inspired as was Paul’s, but we can remember his model in Ephesians. May your prayers continue in behalf of your brothers and sisters, that their faith, knowledge, and love continue to grow, and that the Church and Christ may always bring glory to God our Father.

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Nazarene Commentary 2000© by Mark Heber Miller

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