“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:14–21 ESV)
Have you given thought to what God wants from you more than anything else? What is God’s greatest desire from his creation? Paul’s prayer is a detailed conclusion to the prayer he began in 1:15-20. Let’s break the prayer down so we can get a glimpse of God’s ultimate purpose.
“For this reason”
This is the third time Paul used this phrase (1:15; 3:1), each time breaking off his prayer to give explanation to a central thought in his requests.
“That; So That”
Four times in the text Paul used these words (typical in Ephesians) to express purpose and the end-goal of our spiritual growth. Notice these purposes:
“…that he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being…” (16)
“…so that Christ may dwell in your hearts…” (17)
“…that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend…and to know the love of Christ…” (17-18)
“…that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (19)
The words, “that” and “so that” direct us to see the purpose of the prayer and what we should desire to attain from God. Strength and power from God’s Spirit is needed if we are to attain “Christ dwelling in our hearts.” This cannot be accomplished by our own strength; it is attained by the power from God’s Spirit in his revealed word. The words, “strength, power, and might” were also used in the beginning of the prayer (1:15-20) in which Paul prayed that we know “the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us…according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead…” Chapters two and three give us detailed descriptions of God’s power toward us.
“Christ Dwelling in Our Hearts”
If Christ is dwelling in our heart, our heart and lifestyle actually looks like Christ lives there. Our homes reflect our presence by the way we decorate. If Christ makes his dwelling with us, our manner of life will reflect his presence.
“Rooted and Grounded in Love”
If Christ has “redecorated” our lives, we will become solidly anchored in his love for us, making it nearly impossible for us to turn our hearts toward anyone or anything else as our primary love.
“Strength to Comprehend…”
Paul prays that we comprehend the breadth, length, height and depth and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge. This strikes deeply at any casual approach to Bible study instead of desiring to know every facet of the mind of God. We must ask, “To what extent am I lacking this fullness, and what am I going to do about it?” Knowing God in his fullness will lead us to have an experiential knowledge of the love of Christ that causes us to live sacrificially in everything we do.
“Filled with All the Fullness of God”
Here is the end-goal. It has always been God’s goal. He created us in his image, and after we fractured that image through sin, all scripture has been about renewing our minds so that we are “created after the likeness of God” (Eph. 4:24). We must study to comprehend the fullness of God and experience his love so that the world sees him in us.
Seem impossible? Far beyond what you can imagine or attain?
“He is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think” (20, NKJV)
Why is this prayer so important? Because when this happens,
“To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus…forever and ever. Amen.” (21)
Now, who among us has been praying this prayer? Hmmm.