By Diane Caston
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.
Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
For this reason , the basis of Paul’s prayer was his knowledge of the purpose of God. This meant he could pray confidently, because He was praying according to God’s will. We can’t pray effectively, unless we have some insight into what God’s will is. Paul describes his reason in Chapter 2 – the building up of the church. That we would all be one in Jesus.
I bow my knees … Sometimes posture is important. As Christians we pray all the time, but something special happens when we get on our knees, when we humble ourselves before our Father in heaven. Paul is taken here with the idea of the family of God. He mentions the unity there is between the whole family - who are in heaven and on earth named after our Father! Paul talks frequently about the breaking down of the wall between the Jew and Gentile, but here he connects us with the family in heaven also.
Charles Spurgeon once preached a sermon called ‘Saints in Heaven and Earth One Family’. In it he developed the idea that we are one with our brothers and sisters in heaven, and how this enriches our hope of heaven. We seldom think of this, but the more we have loved ones who are there, the more this becomes a comfort to us.
Paul knows his Father in heaven, that He is a good Father, so Paul asks for certain things for the body of Christ that he knows would be in His Father’s will. Paul lists six things that he prays for the church.
1. Vs. 16 That his children would be strengthened with the power , also translated -might , the dumanis, of the Spirit inside of us where He longs to dwell, where He longs to make His home. There is an inner man, just as real as our outer man. We understand the importance of strength in our physical body, but many are exceedingly weak in the inner man. When we let fear, anxiety or depression rule us, we are weak in the inner man. We must be wise about the tactics of the devil. There are so many distractions today – politics and the separation that is occurring in our country. Social media and the time it robs us of, lying to us about what sort of people we should be.
But God wants to strengthen us according to the riches of His glory. The King of heaven has all the riches to bestow on His children, and He wants to strengthen us in the inner woman through these riches. But we have to spend time with him to receive these.
2. Vs. 17 That Christ would dwell in our hearts through faith
Paul asked that Jesus would dwell in these believers just as He promised in
John 14:23, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word: and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.”
The Greek word for dwell here has the idea of a permanent home. Jesus wants to settle down in your heart, not just visit you like an acquaintance or distant relative.
“The glory of the indwelling Jesus is something for us to know, and to know by faith. It is there for us but must be taken hold of through faith. “You have your bible and you have your knees; use them.” John Glynn Carr
And we need faith for this to happen. We need a special gift of faith to realize it is possible for God Himself to dwell in us. We also need faith, because if we’re honest, sometimes we really want to do our own thing, not the prompting of God. This is part of Paul’s prayer. That we would desire Him to be in our hearts, to have His way in us. And the results of Christ dwelling in our hearts?
3. Vs. 18 That we being rooted and grounded in love
That our lives would be changed from our selfish ways, and we would be controlled by His love – that we would have love for one another, not critical of each other, not jealous of each other, but true love for each other. Rooted like a tree that has gone down into the soil and wrapped itself around the rocks and is immovable. That love would be our foundation, the very reason of our being,
This love is the key to our being able, in even a small part, to comprehend in community with all the saints the measurement of His love.
4.That I would be able to comprehend the width, length, depth and height
The love of God has dimensions that can be measured!
Spurgeon “In this measurement may you and I be skilled. If we know nothing of mathematics, may we be well-tutored scholars in this spiritual geometry, and be able to comprehend the breadths and lengths of Jesus’ love for us.”
Spurgeon “Alas, to a great many religious people the love of Jesus is not a solid substantial thing at all – it is a beautiful fiction, a sentimental belief, a formal theory, but to Paul it was a real, substantial, measurable fact; he had considered it this way, and that way, and the other way, and it was evidently real to him whatever it might be to others.”
Who remembers a little tune that goes:
“He's so high (so high you can't get over Him)
So wide (so wide you can't get around Him)
So low (so low you can't get under him)
Great God Almighty (you must come in at the door)”
Wide – like a mighty river. For God so loved the world… Wide enough to cover the whole wide world.
Length – as far as the east is from the west. From everlasting to everlasting
When did it start? When will it end? Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love.
Depth – No pit so deep that God is not deeper still Story of Corrie Ten Boom
O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! Rom. 11:33
Height – from the highest heights to the depths of the sea Chris Tomlin song
Rom 8:39 “Nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
This dimension of God’s love—the height of God’s love—isn’t simply high over us, but it draws us upward in worship toward God. Throughout Scripture, we are admonished to lift our eyes, our hearts, and our hands in praise, worship and adoration to God. The fact that God is continually referred to as “the Most High” indicates that He wants us looking up! A church that is strong in expressing the height of God’s love will be a worshipping church, one that exalts and adores God from the heart.
5 . Vs.19 To know the love of Christ which passes knowledge We can’t even comprehend the love of God apart from the work of the Spirit in us. How do you know something you cannot comprehend? It has to be a supernatural work
6 .And be filled with all of the fullness of God, because the more we know Him, the more these things become true in us! Could this be? Paul wante Christians to experience life in Jesus Christ, the fullness of God
Col.2:9 “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” and Paul prays for us to be filled to capacity with Jesus.
“Among all the great sayings in this prayer, this is the greatest. To be filled with God is a great thing; to be filled with the fullness of God is still greater; but to be filled with all the fullness of God utterly bewilders the sense and confounds the understanding.” (Clarke)
Vs. 20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we could ask or think.
Exceedingly abundantly! What a passage! He does more than we could ever imagine!
Spurgeon “He has constructed here in the Greek an expression which is altogether his own. No language was powerful enough for the apostle, - I mean the Holy Ghost speaking through the apostle – for very often Paul has to coin words and phrases to shadow forth his meaning, and her is one, ‘He is able to do exceedingly abundantly’, so abundantly that it exceeds measure and description.”
He plans to do it – to give us all things, but He wants us to come and ask Him. “It’s the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” How can something so high above us ever become reality? It can only happen because God is able to do far beyond what we ask or think.
Paul is not only referring to what he has spoken in this prayer but also every glorious privilege and blessing he has referred to in the preceding chapters of Ephesians. He’s building on a theme.
According to the power that works in us. God is able to do this work in us now. We don’t have to wait for heaven. All the things Paul prayed for:
Experiential knowledge of His love
Comprehend the measure of His great love
And all the fullness of God
They must all be received by believing prayer and extended to those we love through our prayers for them.
Vs.21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, forever and ever. Amen