Punctuated with prayer – Thursday, 29th week in ordinary time – Ephesians 3:14-21

Punctuated with prayer – Thursday, 29th week in ordinary time – Ephesians 3:14-21

In the text of yesterday, Ephesians 3:12 spoke of the boldness and confidence we all have (Jews and Gentiles) to approach God because of the access we have through Christ. This great mystery of unity, this unmerited salvation of all in Christ, this privilege of being joint heirs in the promise of Jesus is the reason why the author to the Ephesians begins this text with an act of great humility and thanks; “he bows his knees before the father.” The author to the Ephesians punctuates his letter with a moment of prayer.

The prayer of Paul begins with a publicly manifested action of reverence. As an aside; external gestures of reverence are slowly fading in the Catholic Church. As one pastor once said, if your knees are giving way, bow at your hip. If you hip is giving way bow at your neck and if you neck has given way close your eyes and if that is not possible find it in your heart to make an appropriate gesture of reverence according to your physical ability; acknowledging the great presence before whom you enter.

Let me back this with scripture. Solomon prayed on his knees (1 Kings 8:54). Ezra prayed on his knees (Ezra 9:5). The Psalmist called us to kneel (Psalm 95:6). Daniel prayed on his knees (Daniel 6:10). People came to Jesus kneeling (Matthew 17:14, Matthew 20:20, and Mark 1:40). Stephen prayed on his knees (Acts 7:60). Peter prayed on his knees (Acts 9:40). Paul prayed on his knees (Acts 20:36), and the early Christians prayed on their knees (Acts 21:5). Most importantly, Jesus prayed on His knees (Luke 22:41). So, give God some knee-mail!

It is not merely the external gesture of prayer to which our attention is drawn but to the prayer itself. The prayer made to the father of Jesus is that they may be spiritually (not just power in your muscles) strengthened with the power (dunamis) that comes through the spirit. The Greek word dunamis (from which we get our word dynamite) speaks of a special kind of power; the ability to do or to accomplish. It is an enabling sort of power, because it equips us to do good things while leaving us freedom to exercise that power. But this measure of power is given in “according to the riches of HIS glory.
What a prayer! The riches of God’s glory are infinite. So, Paul is praying for God to shower these Ephesian Christians with not just some blessings but with infinite blessings.

Paul moves to the second petition of his prayer, that “Christ may dwell in their hearts through faith as they were rooted and grounded in love.” There are two powerful elements here. The prayer is an invitation for Christ to dwell. The word Dwell uses the ancient Greek word for a permanent home. Jesus wants to settle down in our heart, not just visit as a stranger.

Yet the prayer acknowledges that this dwelling is in need for spiritual strength that comes from faith because there is something in us that resists the influence of the indwelling of Jesus. That something can be conquered by the Spirit of God that gives us the victory of faith.

As every gardener knows, plants depend on their roots for nurture and sustenance. The roots might be underground and invisible to the casual observer but they are absolutely essential to the well-being of the plant. But much also depends on the soil in which the roots are rooted. If the soil has moisture and nutrients, the roots will extract those and feed the plant so that the plant can prosper. However, if the soil contains no moisture or nutrients, the roots will be helpless, unable to support the life of the plant and the plant will die.
But Paul says that Christians have no reason to worry about the spiritual soil in which they are rooted. It is agape, it is in God’s love that they are planted. The kind of love that a mother showers to her child, the kind of love that focuses on giving rather than getting.

The third petition of the prayer (verse 18) is a petition that the believer may have the power to comprehend with all the saints what is the breath and length and height and depth of Christs love that surpasses all knowledge. In short, Pauls says can you swim in his love that know no bounds, a love that I pray you will comprehend (katalambano) yet a love that is incomprehensible.
Katalambano, translated in English as ‘to comprehend’ means more than comprehending or understanding. The Greeks used this word to speak of reaching out to cross the finish line, to win the prize. Paul is praying that God will strengthen these Christians to enable them to reach out and grasp the prize to emerge victorious.

The fourth and final petition of this prayer is that the believer may ‘know the unmerited and unconditional love of Christ that surpasses all knowledge, so that they may be filled with the fullness of God .’ Many people today would find it nearly impossible to believe that Christians are “filled with all the fullness of God.” Am I “filled with all the fullness of God”? Certainly, there are a few who would fit that description. If God has answered Paul’s prayer (3:14, 19), then you and the other unlikely candidates have, indeed, been “filled with all the fullness of God.” But what we see is not what Paul prayed! Yet what seems impossible to man is possible to God if we allow him to work his power within us in order that we may accomplish all things beyond our imagination.

Finally, Jesus called the church to proclaim the glory of God in perpetuity, ”forever and ever.” That is how it has worked out. It has been two thousand years since Jesus walked the dusty pathways of Israel, but the church is still giving God glory. We are not only singing songs of glory in our worship, but we are also proclaiming the Gospel far and wide and feeding the hungry and healing the sick all over the world in the name of the Christ who has called us. Who could have imagined such a thing? God could. Jesus could. Paul could. And it took place just as they envisioned.

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One thought on “Punctuated with prayer – Thursday, 29th week in ordinary time – Ephesians 3:14-21”

  • How very true,“ Yet the prayer acknowledges that this dwelling is in need for spiritual strength…………..conquered by the Spirit of God that gives us the victory of faith”. This nails the message of today’s’ text. Thank you Father. Have a blessed day.


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