For this reason, I fall on my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth receives its true name. I ask God from the wealth of his glory to give you power through his Spirit to be strong in your inner selves, and I pray that Christ will make his home in your hearts through faith. I pray that you may have your roots and foundation in love, so that you, together with all God’s people, may have the power to understand how broad and long, how high and deep, is Christ’s love. Yes, may you come to know his love—although it can never be fully known—and so be completely filled with the very nature of God.
To him who by means of his power working in us is able to do so much more than we can ever ask for, or even think of: to God be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus for all time, forever and ever! Amen. (Good News Translation)
In Jesus Christ, the believer has been given incredible blessings – adoption into God’s family and belonging with God, redemption through Christ’s cross and experiencing freedom from the power of sin, and intimacy and help by means of God’s own Spirit.
Today’s New Testament lesson is a prayer of the Apostle Paul for the Church. After three chapters of describing who we are and what we have in Christ as Christians, he goes to prayer, asking that the new life we have in Christ will be pressed firmly into our heads and our hearts so that this reality of spiritual blessings will be practically realized for the believer.
Here’s a quick remedial grammar lesson: a “verb” expresses an action between two things; a “participle” or “participial phrase” is a word or group of words which help describe the action of the verb.
There are two main verbs Paul uses: “I ask (pray)” for God “to give.” The participles all explain or modify the action of pray and give. In other words, the following actions are what Paul deeply desires that God will do for us as believers in Jesus….
To Become Mighty Through the Spirit
God grants us all the blessings of being in Christ. We are delivered from sin, death, and hell so that we will live into God’s purposes for this new life of freedom.
We live into the Christian life, on a practical level, as our faith is strengthened, and our inner person becomes powerful. This is the Spirit’s work in us – to strengthen our spiritual spine so that we can bear and carry our cross in this life, despite whatever the adversity or difficulty.
We are not alone. The Spirit is with us always. God is present. The believer is never promised that life will be a bowl of cherries and that being a Christian is all rainbows and unicorns. However, the believer is assured that God will be with us through the trouble – which is why we need a strong and robust faith.
You set a table for me
right in front of my enemies. (Psalm 23:5, CEB)
To Dwell In Christ Through Faith
The “heart” in the New Testament is a reference not to the physical muscle in our chest but the seat or center of our inner person.
Paul’s prayer is that God gives or plants the seeds of the gospel in the hearts of people. Those good seeds then take root and become anchored firmly in the soul. They grow and mature, producing a harvest of love.
Not only do those roots grow down and deep, but they also grow out and connect with all other believers everywhere.
To Grasp God’s Love in Christ Through the Spirit
Enjoying this mystical union with Christ and connection with Christians, we come to experientially grasp together the vast dimensions of God’s love for us. God’s love is a multiverse of blessing. In fact, an eternity in heaven will never reach the bottom or top of the God who is Love itself.
When God our Savior made his kindness and love for humanity appear, he saved us, but not because of anything we had done to gain his approval. Instead, because of his mercy he saved us through the washing in which the Holy Spirit gives us new birth and renewal. God poured a generous amount of the Spirit on us through Jesus Christ our Savior. (Titus 3:4-6, GW)
To be filled with all the fullness of Love, is to be filled thoroughly with God – because God is Love.
My dear friends, we must love each other. Love comes from God, and when we love each other, it shows we have been given new life. We are now God’s children, and we know him. God is love, and anyone who doesn’t love others has never known him. (1 John 4:7-8, CEV)
Prayer is a gift. Like a little child bursting into her daddy’s office at work and crawling up on his lap, so we have the wondrous privilege of coming to God without hindrance and asking for whatever we need and want.
And what God wants and enjoys hearing, is us asking for spiritual strength, faith, and love. Because it is these things which create a thriving inner person who blesses others.
May it be so, to the glory of God, for the edification of the Church, and in the proclamation of the gospel. Amen.