Summary: Paul shares his prayer with the Ephesian Christians and reveals to them what he believes is absolutely vital in living out the Christian life
Ephesians 3:14-21 “Full of God”
Have you ever inadvertently overheard another person’s prayer? It can be an eye opening experience. Hearing what someone prayer for enables us to grasp what is important and of value to the person. A couple of months ago during the season of Easter, we had several Sundays when we overheard Jesus’ prayer for his Church, in John 17. We learned what Jesus considered essential for the ongoing ministry of his followers.
In our lesson today, Paul shares with the Christians at Ephesus what he prays for them. It is a powerful prayer, which asks the Christians at Ephesus be filled with God and describes what it will look like when this happens.
So, let’s listen in to Paul’s prayer and hear what he prays for. In his prayers it is necessary for us to remember that he is not praying for Christians as individuals (that one person may be filled) but rather Paul is praying for the congregation—the body of Christ.
INNER SPIRITUAL STRENGTH
Some of spend countless hours in the fitness center attempting to increase of physical strength. We may not want the bulk (we may already have enough bulk), but we would like some strength and definition. Even if we are not into weights, most of us want to be physically fit enough—strong enough—to go about our daily activities without hindrance or limitations. We may forget, though, our need not only to be physically strong, but also spiritually strong in order to experience a vibrant, abundant life. The question before us is how do we become spiritually strong?
For most of us, we are strengthened and sustained by the witness of the company of believers with whom we worship. Beyond that, we are strengthened by the witness of those from the past whom we remember in the cycle of the church year – including those whose hymns we sing, and those whom we commemorate for their preaching, teaching, and acts of courage in society, based on Christian faith.
One of the reasons that we gather together on a regular basis is to strengthen each other’s faith. We talk about how God has been present in our lives and has helped us through the circumstances that we have faced. We laugh with each other, cry together, and as a community sing our alleluias. On a regular basis, we pray for each other and serve as models of faith, hope and love for each other. Together we are stronger than we are apart and alone.
People who have gone before us also serve to strengthen us by their witness. I am strengthened by a prayer warrior, Emma, who was in my first congregation, and, by Pastor Grimstad my college campus pastor. We are strengthened by John Newton who wrote, “Amazing Grace,” and by Martin Luther who wrote “A Mighty Fortress,” and many other hymns and theological works.
THE INDWELLING CHRIST
Second, it is the indwelling of Christ in the hearts of the congregation where love is produced (Ephesians 3:17). Christ cannot be simply a concept or a memory. The risen and living Christ comes to us in Word and Sacrament, and he seeks to find hearts in which to dwell. Where he is, there is love.
The congregation is more than a book club that gathers together on a regular basis to discuss the latest good read. We are more than group gathered around a piano or keyboard singing songs that touch us and make us feel good. Something more is happening here.
Jesus is in our midst. The Holy Spirit touches our lives, comforts and challenges us, and molds us into the image of God. Lives are transformed. The words of the Lord speak to us, and we are nourished at his table. God is not “out there.” There is no question about whether or not God exists. We know that Jesus lives, because he is in us and we are in him.
NEW VISTAS AND INSIGHTS
It is in our life together as Christians that we find ever new vistas and insights into the vast world of God (Ephesians 3:18). If we have time to listen to one another, we discover stories of faith beyond our own. In conversations with others, listening to their prayers, and observing acts of kindness and generosity, we gain understandings of God and the world that we have not known before.
We have often talked about how Christians see the world from a different perspective. We see the things of the world as temporary and not the “got to have its” that advertising agencies would have us believe. We see how empty accumulating stuff is, and how satisfying it is to be generous and to share the blessings we have received.
Because of the work of the Holy Spirit, we have a deeper understanding of ourselves and our world. Through the eyes of faith, we see God’s presence and movement in ways that other people can’t. We think and act differently because we see things differently.