14) For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
15) Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
16) That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;
17) That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
18) May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
19) And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
20) Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
21) Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.Ephesians 3:14-21 (KJV)
As the New Year approaches, many establish resolutions to improve their lifestyles, habits, or relationships. While this is common practice, New Year’s resolutions are comically known for being broken.
Often, this is because they don’t align with the resolution-makers’ real priorities.
For example, if you spend very little time at home and you prioritize rest when you are home, preparing home-cooked meals every night would be a misaligned resolution, not because it’s impossible, but simply because it’s not what’s most important to you.“Like New Year’s resolutions, our prayers should reflect our priorities.”
Like New Year’s resolutions, our prayers should reflect our priorities. Often, our prayers of supplication pertain to the physical needs of those around us: healing from illness, financial provision, safe travel, and similar fulfillments of material needs.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with these requests. Scripture makes it clear that God provides for our physical needs with food, drink, and clothing (Mat. 6:25-34), and even Paul requested prayers for his safe travel, deliverance from Judeans, and acceptance among the Jerusalem believers (Rom. 15:30-32).
However, Paul’s prayer for the churches in Ephesus in Ephesians 3:14-21 challenges our priorities in prayer.
In this passage, Paul offers a rich prayer for the spiritual lives of the believers he’s writing to.
He makes 3 main requests: that God would strengthen the believers with power through the Spirit, that Christ would dwell in their hearts through faith, and that they would know the love of Christ.
Paul concludes his supplication by explaining the end goal or priority of these requests, that the believers would be filled with all the fullness of God. (Eph. 3:19).“Are the spiritual lives of other believers important to you? Is this reflected in your prayer life?”
The fullness of God is also evident in how all 3 persons of the trinity are active in this request: the Father would grant spiritual strengthening (Eph. 3:16) through the Holy Spirit (Eph. 3:16) so Christ may dwell in their hearts (Eph. 3:17) and they may know Christ’s love (Eph. 3:19).
This prayer clearly reflects Paul’s priority to see the Ephesians’ spiritual flourishing.
Do our prayers reveal our desire to see the increased faith and love of those around us? Take inventory and assess your prayer life: Are the spiritual lives of other believers important to you? Is this reflected in your prayer life?
While New Year’s resolutions are often misaligned with true priorities, let us not allow our prayers to be the same way.
Let’s use Ephesians 3:14-21 as a framework as we pray for our own churches and communities of believers.
Dear heavenly Father, thank you for the church and community of believers that you’ve placed me in. I pray that according to the riches of Your glory You strengthen them with power through Your Spirit in their inner being, so that Christ may dwell in their hearts through faith, that being rooted and grounded in love, they 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. I ask all this so that they may be filled with all the fullness of God. Lord, I know you are able to do far more abundantly than all that I ask or think. Help me as I seek to align my priorities with my prayers. Amen.
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Prosperous Calvinist Family, anonymous, 162. The Rijksmuseum. SK-A-4469.