Summary: We must pray more for inner strength and physical strength.
"THAT HE WOULD GRANT YOU, ACCORDING TO THE RICHES OF HIS GLORY, TO BE STRENGTHENED WITH MIGHT BY HIS SPIRIT IN THE INNER MAN."
I. EVERY CHRISTIAN HAS AN "INNER MAN."
A. Our inner person is our spiritual part.
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy HEART, and with all thy SOUL, and with all thy MIND" (Matt. 22:37). The "heart," "soul," and "mind" refer to the "inner man."
Obviously, if we have an inner person, we must also possess an outward person. "Though our OUTWARD MAN perish, yet the INWARD MAN is renewed day by day" (2 Cor. 4:16). Our outward man is our body. Our inward man is our spirit.
B. Our inner person is much more important that our outward person.
Notice that Paul makes no mention in this prayer of anything physical or material. Paul was much more concerned about the spiritual needs of the Ephesians than their physical and material needs.
Later in this letter Paul asks the Ephesians to pray for him. He urges them to pray "that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel" (6:20). Remember where Paul is: he is in prison. If you were in Paul’s position, what would you ask others to pray about? Probably that you would be freed. But Paul requests that the Ephesians pray that he would continue to boldly preach the gospel.
"BUT SEEK YE FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD, AND HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS; and all these things shall be added unto you" (v. 6:33).
Jesus was dealing with people who were always worrying about food and drink and clothing— material things. The trouble with you, He says, is that you’re starting at the wrong end. You’re starting with the material and with the seen; instead start with the spiritual and the unseen. "Seek ye FIRST the kingdom of God, and his righteousness."
We often are anxious about things that affect the outward person—things like food, drink, and clothing; it would be good if we became more anxious about things that affect our inner person—spiritual things. These things are far more important.
C. The strength of our inner person determines our success against temptation.
Jesus said that it is not that which goes into a man which pollutes the man but rather that which comes out of him. It is "OUT OF THE HEART" that comes "evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders" and so on (v. 21).
It is not the intensity of the temptation that determines whether you will stand or fall. The strength of your heart, your inner person, is what determines whether you will stand or fall.
Two people may face the same temptation; one falls and the other stands. The difference is not in the temptation but in the person’s heart.
II. OUR INNER MAN NEEDS TO BE "STRENGTHENED WITH MIGHT."
"THOUGH OUR OUTWARD MAN PERISH, YET THE INWARD MAN IS RENEWED DAY BY DAY" (2 Cor. 4:16). In other words, "Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day."
"I DESIRE THAT YE FAINT NOT" (Eph. 3:13). To "FAINT" means to be DISCOURAGED. To be "STRENGTHENED" is the opposite of fainting, the opposite of being discouraged.
Notice that Paul does not pray that circumstances be changed for the Ephesians. Instead he prays that they would be given inner strength: "strengthened with might by [God’s] Spirit in the inner man."
When you pray for others who are facing some kind of difficulty, what do you ask God to do for them? Do you only pray that their circumstances might be changed? If they are sick, do you only pray that they will be healed? If they are in need of a job, do you only pray that they will find employment? If they are in a troubled marriage, do you only pray that their marriage will improve?
Our prayers need to go beyond asking God to change circumstances. We need to pray for spiritual strength for ourselves and others. A change in spiritual strength is more needful than a change in circumstances.
What often happens when things go wrong in our lives? We tend to become anxious. Our hearts and minds become plagued with worry.
"Be careful for nothing." In other words, "Do not be anxious about anything" (NIV). How do we obey that command? There is only one way to get rid of anxiety: prayer—take your anxiety to the Lord. "[Cast] all your care upon him; for he careth for you" (1 Peter 5:7). "In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God."
If you do this, "the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, SHALL KEEP YOUR HEARTS AND MINDS THROUGH CHRIST JESUS." The circumstances have not changed, they remain exactly the same. But instead of anxiety in your heart and mind you have peace.