From God’s word – Paul’s prayer for spiritual growth

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By Toni Ford

The Apostle Paul loved to pray for the groups of people he visited and shared the Gospel with, from small congregations scattered throughout the Roman Empire to individuals such as Philemon. Paul’s prayers are full of his affection for those he is writing to, and his words are full of love for the people with a longing for them to continue to pursue the Father.

The Book of Ephesians records two of Paul’s prayers, the first in Ephesians 1:15-23 and the second in Ephesians 3:16-21. The first prayer is focused more on enlightenment, while the second prayer is focused on enablement. Warren Wiersbe states that we find two of Paul’s prayers in the Book of Ephesians,. Both prayers, as well as the other prison prayers from Paul, deal with the spiritual condition of the inner man and not the material needs of the body. Too many of our prayers focus only on our physical and material needs and fail to lay hold of the deeper inner needs of the heart. Paul’s prayer in Ephesians is probably my favorite prayer recorded by Paul, one which I often pray over myself and others. Read aloud the prayer below.

Ephesians 3:16-21 says, “I pray that from his glorious and unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations, forever and ever! Amen.”

Several points stand out when I am praying this prayer over my life and over the lives of others. For the purpose of time, this week I would love to highlight at least two of those points.

Inner strength through His Spirit. Only by the power of the Holy Spirit are we enabled to live the Christian life. If someone were to ask you today what does that power look like or feel like and how His Spirit enables you to live, do you know what you would say? Acts of the Apostles 1:8 tells us, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit is come upon you.” Jesus’ ministry here on earth was performed in the power of the Holy Spirit. In the book of Acts, we see the importance of the Holy Spirit in the life of the church, for there are 59 references to the Holy Spirit. The next questions become, “Am I relying on the Holy Spirit and His power in my life, am I seeking His power or asking to be filled with the Holy Spirit power each day or am I living life on my own power?” We desperately need the power of the Holy Spirit in order to live in this world today so that we can represent Christ well.

Spiritual depth. I love once again how Wiersbe describes this. He says, “Paul used three pictures to convey the idea of spiritual depth, and the three pictures are hidden in the three verbs: ‘dwell,’ ‘rooted,’ and ‘grounded.” Think about these three words. They are not words you think of when you think of someone passing by for a quick visit. Rather, these are words that describes a “settling down” or “feeling at home.” When a tree has good roots, those roots must be deep in the soil in order to receive good nourishment and stability. For us as believers, part of our depth is the result of having our spiritual roots deep into the love of God. This is what Paul longed for the believers – that they would experience Christ on this level. I ask myself the question, “Do I treat the Messiah as if I am just passing by and throwing out my requests to Him, or do I really dwell and take time to settle down with Him?

Lord, we pray today that You would fill us afresh with Your Holy Spirit so that we would be strengthened to walk out Your calling in our lives. Lord, take us deeper with You and may our roots be grounded in Your love. Lord, we need You ever so much in this day and time. We love You, oh Lord!

If you would like continued prayer, feel free to email me at tonif77@gmail.com. I would love to pray for you!

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