Ephesians 3:14-19. 14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
How do you pray? What’s the basis of your prayers? Does what you pray for line up with who God is and what he has done? Or, when you pray, what do you pray according to? Do you pray according to the riches of God’s glory?
Let’s ask it one more way: do you pray for God’s glorious grace or because of God’s glorious grace?
Paul is telling us to pray because of or according to the glory of God. His grace. His love. His blessings in Christ.
Most of us pray according to our own hearts. Our prayers are limited by our own feelings and narrowness. Because we forget what we have in Christ we pray in very small ways. We pray for things that we already have. We fail to pray from the fullness of God’s blessings for us in Jesus. Or the reason we pray is to avoid guilt or shame, or to appease God.
A prayer that’s nowhere near the riches of God’s glory in Christ.
But Paul is not praying from his own feeling or perceptions. He’s not praying from guilt. He’s not praying because he “has to.” He’s not even praying to receive more of the blessings of Heaven. And he’s not praying sheepishly. Wondering if God might happen to listen and respond.
No. He is praying boldly. He is praying in full knowledge and expectation of a favorable response. How? Because he’s praying according to the riches of God’s glory. “No” is not an option. It would be unheard of for God to not answer this prayer. In fact, as we’ve already said, Paul is not praying for anything that God hasn’t already done. There is nothing new in this prayer.
Have you ever gone to a sporting event at a stadium where they were giving away some sort of “freebie?” Everyone who walks in gets the bobble-head or the t-shirt. You don’t walk up to the stadium staff handing them out doubting if you deserve one. Wondering if they’ll respond favorably. They have crates full. It’s free. It’s according to the riches of the millionaires who own the team. I’m sure this analogy breaks down somewhere, but with God it never breaks down. His grace never runs out. His blessings in Christ are infinite. He’s got crates full. His character and nature never change. He will always be a giver. And he will never withhold himself from us. Ever.
Let me encourage you today to take a look at how you’ve been praying. Pray with boldness. Ask like you’re a child asking her mommy if she can play with the Christmas present that her mommy just gave her. Pray like you’re asking your daddy to play catch with you right after your daddy just told you he wants to play catch with you.
That’s what’s happening here in Ephesians. God just told us all the bountiful ways that he has blessed us in Christ (chapters 1-2). All the ways he loves us. All the things he has done for us and wants to do for us through Jesus. And then here in 3:14-19 we get to ask for all these same exact things. There is no doubt as to what the answer will be. It’s already a never ending yes. The YES of the Holy Spirit.
Luke 11:9-13. 9 And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
“To live is Christ” is to have the riches of God’s glory living in us in the person of Jesus Christ and his indwelling love and life. Now we can pray like it. We can boldly ask for what we already have. Does that seem foolish? Well then welcome to the gospel.