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, both at small congregations scattered throughout the Roman Empire, and for 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 one being Ephesians 1:15-23 and the second Ephesians 3:16-21. The first prayer is focused more on enlightenment, while the second is centered on enablement. Warren Wiersbe stated that in the Book of Ephesians we find two of Paul’s prayers. Both of these 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, and one that I often pray over myself and others. Read aloud Ephesians 3:16-21: “I pray that from his glorious, 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.”

There are several points that stand out when I am praying this prayer over my life and the lives of others. For the purpose of time and space, I’d love to highlight at least two of those points.

* Inner strength through His Spirit (verse 16). 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 or how does His Spirit enable 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 in the book. 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 Warren Wiersbe describes this: “Paul used three pictures hidden in the three verbs to convey the idea of spiritual depth: “dwell,” “rooted” and “grounded.” Think about those words. Those are not just 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, that the believers would experience Christ on that level. I ask myself the question, “Do I treat the Messiah as if I am just passing by, by 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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