…that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man …
Read Paul’s prayer – Eph 3:14-21 – in its entirety. This prayer is recognized to be the most inspirational and majestic of Paul’s prayers. Martyn Lloyd-Jones calls it one of the great mountain peaks in Scripture. Having last week studied the manner in which we approach God, we will take the next several weeks to examine the content of this prayer. We will take our time, as in this text lies the real key to the Christian life and one’s relationship with God; therefore we cannot examine it too closely so as to exhaust its value.
The Ephesians were in trouble – facing difficulties on every side. How would you have prayed for them? How do you pray for brethren who face trials? It is interesting to note how Paul does not pray for them. He does not pray for any change of circumstances, either for himself or for them. Neither does he offer some kind of general prayer, like “God bless them.” Notice further that Paul does not pray that some method or new program be employed to fight these problems directly.
It is always the Christian way of dealing with life’s problems, not to run away, or even to do anything about them, but to deal with one’s own spiritual state. Jesus said, “men ought always to pray and not faint” (Lk 18:1). If you want to avoid fainting in the midst of trials, pray! Do not waste time talking about the things that are attacking you; rather, build yourself up on ‘our most holy faith.’ This is the Apostle’s first prayer request (Read it again in Eph 3:16).
Notice how rather than praying to change outer circumstances, his prayer is exclusively spiritual – not material. Secondly it is quite specific – not a general “blessing.” Paul isolates certain particulars that he knows to be of importance for the Christian life. Thirdly it is real. Here he speaks, as the entire New Testament, plainly and frankly. This is no prayer of ‘cheery optimism.’ The Scripture is plain, “In the world you shall have tribulation” (Jn 16:33); “all that live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” (2 Tim 3:12); the book of Revelation likewise is filled with trials and troubles and tribulation which face the saints. Paul is no escapist – he is a realist. He prays for Christians, just like you and I, for what we need most: to be strengthened … in the inner man.
This is what we need, brethren. When we are assailed by doubt, when depressed, troubled by evil or wandering thoughts – when perilous threats lead to discouragement, as we face the real onslaught of the world, Satan, and the flesh on a daily basis, this is the only manner in which we will become “more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Rom 8:27). So Paul makes this is first request.
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