Don Carson led a session for TGC’s 2018 Bay Area regional conference titled “New Power” as a part of the series “Being the Church in a Foreign Land.” All new believers learn to pray through imitation—by hearing and practicing the prayers of more mature believers around them. He advises that believers also imitate the Pauline prayer found in Ephesians 3:14–21, specifically focusing on the two petitions and the final doxology.
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Don Carson: Now, I have been charged this afternoon to speak from Ephesians 3:14-21, the power of this new life. I want to begin by reading the passage and then asking a question. Ephesians 3:14-21, “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep as the love of Christ, to know this love that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.”
Don Carson: My question is this, how did you learn to pray? Well, I guess that the answer will depend a bit on the kind of family you were born into. In my case, I was born into a strong Christian family, conservative, and of course as many years ago as it was, it was a King James family. So the Bible we had was King James, and when we did our praying, we prayed in Elizabethan English. Everybody did. If you were Christian, you prayed in Elizabethan English. Not to mention family devotions, for example, by the time I was five, I could pray like this: “We beseech thee most merciful God that in thine infinite mercies thy would you spout safe to us thy mercy through the Lord Jesus.”
I’m not telling you that I was any better because of it, I’m just saying that’s how I learned to pray. In a Christian home, you learn to pray by imitation. But if you got converted in a crew meeting at the age of 22, at Berkeley, and before that you had never prayed in your life, you come from a nice, respectable, middle class, secular home, then you too learned by imitation. But you weren’t imitating your parents, you were imitating crew people. And the first time you prayed it sounded something like this, “We just want to thank you Jesus for being here.” Now again I’m not saying that’s a worse prayer either, I’m saying that an awful lot of the way we learn to pray is by hearing others pray. So the question becomes then, how do you improve your prayer life?
Well, a large part of it will be listening to good prayers pray better than you can, and paying attention. So if you’re in a good church, you quickly find out in a few prayer meetings who prays well. Now, by well I have to be really careful. I know that there can be some elementary heart-cry prayers that are not at all rhetorically rich or anything like that and yet they’re sometimes deep, I understand that. But you listen to some people pray and they cover the gambit of theological reflection and they’re biblically faithful and they’re concerned for other people and they mix praise and petition and lament and confession and gratitude and concern for world mission, you think, “Well, I’d like to pray like that.”
But one of the best things you can do to learn to pray is to follow the best models, and they’re in scripture. So, you can learn to pray with Daniel. You can learn to pray with Moses. Four great prayers of Moses in Exodus 32, 33, 34. You can learn to pray with David. Well, there you got a lot of examples. You can learn to pray from Jesus. One of the things you can usefully do is read through the letters of Paul and copy out all the prayers, either the direct prayers, “We pray O God that… ” or what are sometimes called wish prayers, “May the Lord in His mercy do such and such.” They’re still prayers, whether they’re second person or third person.
And what we have in front of us then is one Paulean prayer. The reason it is particularly important for this conference is because it has two major petitions, both of which deal with the notion of power. So we read verse 16, “I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power.” And again halfway through verse 17, “And I pray that, you being rooted and established in love, may have power.” In fact, power is a pretty important theme in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. We’re going to consider the two petitions of this prayer, then we’ll consider the two grounds for this prayer, and finally consider the doxology that ends the prayer.
The first petition begins in verse 16, “I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” Now, I’ve already indicated to you that Paul is much interested in the question of power. Back in chapter one verse 18, which we have not covered in this series, we read, “I pray,” there’s Paul praying again, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you.” In other words, that you’d be called to envision the new heaven and the new earth. “You’ll know this hope to which you have been called, for it will change your life. The riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people, in His saints, and His comparably great power for us who believe.” That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead. In other words, Paul is praying that the power that you experience in your life will be fully the same power that raised Christ from the dead. That’s the power he’s praying for. It’s remarkable.
Now come back to our prayer. What does he pray for? “I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His spirit.” So the agent who mediates this power to us is the blessed Holy Spirit. And this sphere of operation of this power is our inner being. Read it again, “I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through this spirit in your inner being.” If you read all translations, it is rendered, “In your inner man.” The same phrase is used in 2 Corinthians 4:16 and 18 and a few other places. Let me read those verse to you, and you’ll get a good idea of what it means, “Though outwardly we are wasting away,” the Greek has though in your outer man you are wasting away, “yet inwardly,” and with the Greek it’s in your inner man, “in your inner being, we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an internal glory that far outweighs them all.” So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen, for what is seen is temporal and what is unseen is eternal.”
So the inner being is the sharpest focus of our existence. It is what we are when we have no body left. Now that’s not normal. What we will have in all eternity is resurrection existence. But certainly Paul can envision being bodyless. In 2 Corinthians 12 he testifies that he was caught up to the third heaven. Whether in the body or out of the body, I don’t know, God knows. But that shows that he can envision both possibilities. Old age is coming. I took a shower in the Double Tree hotel this morning. I’m sure you’re relieved to know it. A few more hairs went down the plug hole never to be seen again. The old man, the outer being, is wasting away. I can’t do what I used to do when I was 40. I just can’t physically do it.
And if you’re 35 and think, “Got you beat,” just wait, old age is coming. It’s the one thing more certain than taxes. Paul wants the power of the resurrected Christ to operate not primarily in this sphere of the outer being, the old man, the outer being, the physical existence that is going to waste away in any case, but in the inner being. But we should ask two further questions about this petition to grasp it fully. What purpose does it have? A lot of people want power in their spiritual life for pretty ridiculous reasons of for triumphalistic prowess, think Simon Magus, unlike Paul who says, “O that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering.”
Paul’s balanced in what he wants. He wants the power of the resurrection, here, apparently, in the inner being, but he wants to participate in Christ’s sufferings as well. But here there is an explicit purpose that is set out. Did you notice it? 17A. “I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through this spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” And you say, “Wait a minute, Don. If he’s writing to Christian, doesn’t Christ already dwell in their hearts through faith? So why is Paul praying that Christ may dwell in their hearts through faith? In fact, that they’ll have the power for Christ to dwell in their hearts through faith when Christ is already dwelling in their hearts through faith?”
Well, that’s because there’s dwelling and there’s dwelling, just as there’s knowing and there’s knowing. Paul in chapter three of Philippians says, “O that I may know Him.” That doesn’t mean I don’t Him yet but I look forward to meeting Him. When he says, “O that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection,” what he means is, “O that I may know Him better.” So there’s dwelling and there’s dwelling. In fact, the verb that is used here is a strong one, to take up residence. When my wife and I moved to Vancouver, for the first while we lived in rented accommodation, and somebody loaned us some money for a down payment. We managed to buy in [inaudible] what they politely call a fixer-upper. Not much upper, a lot of fixer.
It was a bit of a beast. It was small. I know we didn’t in those days, 45 years ago, achieve the prices that you manage in San Francisco, but we were trying hard. The electrical system basically needed replacing. The plumbing was disgusting. They had had a pair of dogs, which they only rarely let outside. We found dog poo in the carpets besides the universal smell of dog urine throughout the house. It was in bad shape. The design was pretty grotty. Hey, we could afford it, we were in. We were dwelling in it. But I knocked out a couple of walls to change the configuration, then started replastering. I remember the morning I got up really early to sand the plaster I had been doing before heading off to teach in Northwest Baptist Theological Seminary at 8:00 in the morning.
I left my wife in tears. Do you realize how badly the sanding from plastering gets to everything in the entire house? My poor wife. I hate plumbing. I don’t mind electrical work, don’t mind carpentry, plumbing to be done. Now as it turned out, we didn’t live there very long. We moved cities. But if had lived there long enough and the children started coming, we would have sunk a new foundation, extended out the back, it was lots of property. And in due course, even in the time that we were there, there was scarcely anything in the house that we hadn’t touched. The painting was different, the finishing was different. Our next purpose was to change the windows and so on. If we had lived there 20 years, do you know what would have happened after 20 years? My wife would have turned to me or I would have turned to her and one of us would have said, “This is our place now, isn’t it? We’re comfortable here. It’s our home.” We were living there 20 years earlier but now we’re dwelling there.
So Christ comes into our life by His spirit at our conversion. And you know what? He finds the place characterized by dog poo, rotten plumbing, disgusting odors, walls in the wrong places. It needs a lot of work. And Paul’s prayer is that you might know the power of God such that this dwelling, that’s you, this dwelling becomes so changed that it is appropriately the dwelling place of the exulted Christ, the dwelling place of the exulted Christ, so that Christ may fully take up residence in your life. And that takes a lot of power.
But we may ask a second question. With what resources is this prayer to be answered? It is one thing to ask, what are the supply? But look again at our text, verse 16, “I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His spirit in your inner being so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” This expression, “out of His glorious riches” is not uncommon one in Paul. It means, out of all that He has reserved for us secured by the cross. For example, Philippians 4:19, a text we all know, “My God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” What is the warrant for the gift of the spirit? The glorious riches in Christ Jesus. What is the warrant for the promise of resurrection existence on the last day? The glorious riches in Christ Jesus. What is the warrant for fellowship in the church of the living God? The glorious riches in Christ Jesus. You see, it’s all secured by Christ and His Cross work on our behalf.
So to imagine for a moment that God might not have enough power, enough warrant to answer this prayer and give us the power we need to be transformed into a dwelling for Christ would be a kind of criticism of the cross work of Christ. “It’s not big enough. His glorious riches aren’t really all that rich after all. He’s a bit selfish, and he doesn’t have that many riches to pass out.” No, no, no, no, no. He who did not spare His own son but freely gave Him up for us all, how should He also not with Him freely give us all things. I pray that out of His glorious riches. In other words, this is a petition, at the end of the day, for the power to be holy. It’s the petition for the power to think like Christ, to have the moral resolve that is expected of the residence of Christ, to be discerning, to be humble. And the question therefore we must ask ourselves is, when was the last time we prayed such a prayer, the prayer asking God for power to be holy that we might progressively become a suitable residence for the Lord Jesus?
Second petition. This too is a petition for power but it’s oriented in a slightly different direction. From 17B to 19A, “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power,” there’s the power again, “together with all the Lord’s holy people to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ and to know this love that surpasses knowledge that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Note, we have already been rooted and established in love. Once again, this reaches back to chapter one. Go back to chapter 1 verse 4, “For God chose us in Him,” in Christ, “before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless and in His sight, in love He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ in accordance with His pleasure and will, to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the one he loves.” Small wonder then that we’re told we’re rooted and established in love, it’s bound up with God’s divine purposes.
Note carefully, however, that this is not a prayer that we should love God more. That’s a good prayer, but it’s not this prayer. Look at it carefully. “That we may have power together with all the Lord’s holy people to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” It’s not a prayer that we would love Christ more or love God more, but that we better grasp His love. What is presupposed is that what we need is a better grasp of Christ’s love for us. Have you thought how many verses in scripture talk about Christian experience of spirituality in terms of emotions, including love? “Do not get drunk on wine which leads to debauchery,” Ephesians 5 says, “instead be filled with the spirit.” In other words, if you’re going to get high, get high on the spirit rather than on juice.
Psalm 73, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And being with you, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail but God is the strength in my heart and my portion forever.” There’s Paul in Galatians 2 referring to Jesus, “The Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.” 1 Peter 2, “You have tasted that the Lord is good.” Romans 14, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of this or that or the other, rather it’s a matter of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Romans 5, “God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.” 1 Peter 1, “You believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.” And so on and so on and so on. So here Paul prays that you might have the power better to grasp the limitless dimensions of His love for us.
In other words, there is at least some danger of a merely intellectual appreciation, an intellectual grasp of the structured cohesiveness of Christianity without becoming awash in the love of Jesus. The mind is doubtless the gate to understanding, but deep understanding affects the whole person. We sing this sometimes, at least older songs capture this, “The love of God is greater far than tongue or pen can ever tell. It goes beyond the highest star and reaches to the deepest hell. Could we with ink the ocean fill or where a sky a parchment made or every stock on earth a quill, and every man a scribe by trade? To write the love of God above will drain the ocean dry. Nor could the scroll contain the hole though stretched from sky to sky.”
Moreover, this is not merely a privatized experience. What does Paul say? “I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the saints, together with all the Lord’s holy people.” This is almost a depiction of revival, when person after person after person in the local church becomes awash in the sensed certainty and richness of the limitless dimensions of God’s love for them. This petition two has a further aim, 19B, that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. That’s a Paulean expression to mean something like that you might be matures. For example, in the next chapter, chapter four verse 13, “That you may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”
In other words, Paul prays that they might have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how long and wide and high and deep is the love of Christ, to this end that they might be properly mature. That they might be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. The assumption, in other words, is that you won’t be fully matured until you increase in your grasp of the limitless dimensions of God’s love for you. How do you measure such love? Three buckets, five miles, 300 pounds? Paul uses linear measure, how long and wide and high and deep. Then he uses paradox, to know this love that surpasses knowing, that surpasses knowledge, in order to get across the limitless dimensions that he envisages.
Some years ago at Trinity, there was a colleague by the name of Perry Downs, he’s long since retired. He and his wife had two daughter of their own. But over the course of about 30 years, they served as foster parents for a total of about 30 kids, some for a few weeks and some for months. The last one who was a baby brought to them early on, she was the daughter of a druggy mother and had drugs in her. They adopted that one, and now that lass, [inaudible] has grown up and is now a functioning adult with limited mental capacity but a functioning adult in a responsible job. Somewhere along the line of this pilgrimage, they were approached by their particular agency and said, “Look, we’ve got an emergency. We’ve got twin boys who need a place for just six weeks. Will you take them?” Perry and Sandy said, “No. Well, our daughters are still at home and we’ve got two other kids. We just don’t have space for two more. You should really phone somebody else.”
“But your home will be ideal for them. Just for six weeks.” Then it went back and forth and finally they agreed to take them for six weeks. These twin boys, three and a half years old, came in. They were clearly terrified. They went to bed that night. Perry didn’t hear a sound from them. He went in after half an hour, touched their pillows, and their pillows were sopping wet. They were crying without making a noise. Eventually, the stories were filled in from the background. They had been beaten in several of their previous homes, abused in a couple of them. Perry and Sandy took them to child psychologist to be examined, and they were judged irremediably, emotionally crippled. Well, because God’s got a sense of humor, the boys didn’t stay there for six weeks, they stayed for about three and a half years. And then eventually they were adopted into a wonderful Christian family. Before they were adopted, they were tested again, they’d been tested regular, and they were judged in the normal spectrum of emotional maturity after three and a half years of disciplined love.
You and I both know, you and I both know that all things considered, all things being equal, and they never are, but all things being equal, kids don’t grow to emotional maturity unless they’re brought up in a home with emotional rigger and generous love and discipline. They just don’t. Oh I know that’s all things being equal. God is able to reach down into any sort of broken home and bring something out, a trophy of grace, utterly transformed. I know that’s possible. I know that it’s also possible for kids to be brought up in strong Christian homes and turn rebellious and do some really weird things. I know that’s possible. But all things considered, normally, like produces like. These kids found love and shelter and discipline and structure in the home of Perry and Sandy Downs. One became an Olympic medalist in his particular sport. The other became a high school teacher.
Now, in this case, the boys were deprived of love because of the foolishness, the wickedness, the greed, the selfishness of their parents or their foster parents. And they were given it from Perry and Sandy. Our situation is a bit different. We sometimes deprive ourselves of growth and the love of God because we’re more interested in following our own way than following His way. But as we walk away from the love of God, we cripple ourselves spiritually, emotionally. When what we really need to be mature, to live our lives to the fullness of the measure of God is to become progressively aware of the limitless dimensions of His love for us. Do you see that in the text?
And that takes power. And that’s the kind of power that Paul prays for. Not the kind of power that Simon Magus wanted in order to manipulate people and gain some money and be thought a powerful person. But in the first instance to become holy and the second instance to become mature. “To grasp how wide and long and high and deep the love of Christ, experience it when your knowledge bursts its categories, then escape the fragile frame of language, reap the richest crop salvation brings, and heap up memories of a sea of love again cascading o’er us. Men can know no other bliss so rich and deep. Lord God, in love you have established us and rooted us in soil no less fine. Not single plants exposed to every gust of wind, but all the saints drink love sublime. Make me to know, a creature hewn from sod, the measure of all fullness found in God.”
And so the question must be asked again, when was the last time you prayed this prayer? Brothers and sisters, I enjoin you, work through the prayers of scripture. Start with the prayers of Paul, write them out, memorize them, and incorporate them into your prayer life. It’s not that it’s wrong to pray for the things that interest us, getting a mortgage, securing a suitable grade at Berkeley, whatever. After all, Peter enjoins us to cast all of our cares on him because He cares for us. But if you want to find the central things for which to pray, the most important things, look at the prayers in scripture, and ask yourself, what role do these prayers have in my prayer life, there prayers for power?
Now, those are the two petitions. Much more briefly, consider the two basis of the petitions. They’re found in verse 14. First, “For this reason, I kneel before the Father from whom every family on earth… And I pray.” So you must find out what this reason is. Clearly it refers to what precedes. But if you look back at chapter three, for this reason is picking up the for this reason at the beginning of chapter three. It’s picking up the logic of the flow. In other words, chapters one and two Paul writes, and then says, “For this reason.” And it looks as if he’s going to say, “For this reason I kneel and I pray.” But instead of going in that direction, he says, “Now before I get there, I have some things to say in verses two and following.” So they’re tied logically and theologically to what precedes, but in some ways they’re a bit of an exegesis between the for this reason of chapters one and two and the prayer of the end of chapter three.
So if you want to know what Paul means when he says, “For this reason I kneel and I pray, and this is what I pray,” you’ve got to go back to chapters one and two. Now be of good cheer, I’m not going to expound all of chapters one and two. But you have to remember the thrust of the argument in chapters one and two. The thrust of the argument is that if you understand the sovereign sweep of God’s will and salvation, this is the gospel of God, secured in the cross and resurrection of Christ Jesus, displayed and dispensed in the power of the spirit to bring together Jews and Gentiles, alike sinners into one new humanity.” One new humanity. “His purpose,” we read chapter two verse 15B, “His purpose was to create in Himself one new humanity out of the two, out of Jews and Gentiles,” in principle, out of all tribes everywhere, “to create a new humanity. Thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross. So it’s not just individuals, whole groups of people, found in Christ and thus reconciled through the cross to God Himself.
“He came and preached peace to you, you Gentiles who were far away, and peace to those who were near, us Jews, for through Him we both have access to the Father by one spirit.” So we have Christ and the Father and the Spirit, the entire trinity cooperating in this gospel power of transformation. “Consequently,” 2:19, “you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone. In Him the whole building,” oh there’s a building again, “a whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord, a holy temple in which Christ dwells. And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His spirit. For this reason, I bow my knees and I pray that you might have the power to be the very dwelling place that the gospel is all about.” Do you see?
Paul prays, in other words, in line with the aims and ends of the gospel. He prays that the gospel, which has apparently taken hold in them, will have its true ends and aims worked out in their utter transformation, to be the building where God dwells, to experience the richness of God’s grace, God who is rich in mercy, to experience the love of God, it’s limitless dimension. Because, otherwise, how will they ever be mature? So for this reason I kneel before the Father. That’s the first ground of the petition, the basis of his petition, the entire salvific purposes of God in the gospel itself. He prays in line with gospel aims. He prays in line with gospel ends. He prays in line with gospel transformation. That’s what he prays for.
And secondly, the second basis, he reminds us that the God to whom we are praying is supremely our Father. “For this reason I kneel before… ” Oh he could have said the sovereign or the almighty, but instead he says the father. “From whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.” It’s a difficult expression to translate. I think what it means is that every notion of true fatherhood on the planet derives from the ultimate father. Don’t forget you’re praying to the ultimate father, from whom all true notion fatherhood derives.
And then you can’t help remember the kinds of things Jesus said in the sermon on the mount. “So do not worry, saying what shall we eat, or what shall we drink or what shall we wear? For the pagans run after all these things and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.” So we have a vision of God that is kingly, majestic, almighty, all-knowing. He’s our judge as well as our redeemer. But he is not less than our Father who is in heaven. Do you not think that our heavenly Father will answer such a prayer? Doesn’t he know what we need?
And finally, this passage is asking God for the immeasurably great. Paul adds a final doxology which puts the prayer into perspective. Sometimes when we ask for things, we know we should ask for them and so we do, but we don’t really think that God will answer them. But here is a final doxology which puts the prayer into powerful perspective. It’s divided into two parts. First, the prayer is addresses to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, not to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us. Verse 20. I fear my imagination is much too small. I sometimes pray for revival. But although I have seen wisps of revival in various places around the world and been involved in one or two wonderful times, yet when I pray for revival in the US, it’s hard for me to imagine it. Because my imagination is too small, my faith is still too weak.
Paul reminds those who are praying, “Now to Him who is able to do more than all you ask, than all you imagine.” What could you imagine that revival might look like in the Bay Area, hm? Don’t you see that for an omnipotent God there are no degrees of difficulty? For omnipotence, some things cannot be said to be harder than others. I don’t know what harder means for omnipotence? He’s able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or even imagine. James kicks in and says, “You have not because you ask not.” Who knows whether God will raise up assemblies like this to start intercessory prayer, serious intercessory prayer that God would have mercy on us and not send America the judgment God knows we deserve, but instead do it measurably more than all we ask or imagine and bring about genuine reformation and revival in the church.
Al Mohler, the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky likes to say, “For the Christian, optimism is naïve. After all, we have such a strong doctrine of sin. But pessimism is atheistic.” Isn’t that wonderful? Optimism is naïve but pessimism is atheistic. We have a spectacularly powerful God who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine. But there’s one more element to this final doxology. “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine according to His power that is at work within us,” here it is, “to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen.” That is, the ultimate purpose of God’s prayer is that there be glory to God in the church and in Christ Jesus. That’s stunning. Not just that there be glory to God in Christ Jesus, that will certainly be looked after, but that there be glory to God in the church and in Christ Jesus.
In other words, that the church would be so cleaned up, so different, so fully reflecting God’s presence, His holiness. So suitably a place for Christ to dwell by His spirit, so suitably a place to find people who are awash in the love of God, who bask in it and are mature, that God is glorified in the church and in Christ Jesus. This is not a prayer for power in order that we might gain a reputation for being powerful. God helps San Francisco if the only kind of reputation the church gets is that it’s powerful. Rather, we should get a reputation because of God’s power that we’re holy and awash in the knowledge of God and suitable places for Christ to dwell, so that we become a dividing rock in the current of culture. For some an aroma of life to life and for some an aroma of death to death, as the culture divides around a church and God is glorified in the church and in Christ Jesus.
Let us pray. I pray that out of your glorious riches you may strengthen us with power through your spirit, in our inner being so that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith. And I pray that we, being rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the Lord’s holy people to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, to know this love that’s surpasses knowledge, that we may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.