A Prayer Worth Answering

Ephesians 3:14-19

August 1, 2009

Jerry A Collins



v     What kind of approach should we take in prayer?

v     What should be our appeal as we pray?

v     How should we ascribe praise to God?


One of our greatest problems is that we have very few experiences with love. We just do not love one another well. We try in fits and starts but then something can get in the way—jealousy, fatigue, selfishness, busyness, and we are so easily derailed from extending love into another’s life. But when love is established—when we actually break through our preoccupation with ourselves; our comfort, our advantage, our contentment—we know and experience the power of love in our relationships. Those relationships are strong, the bond stout, and the connection deep. United in love we grow in solidarity and commitment to common purposes. Our love for one another, free from all contamination, allows us to forge a deep and long-lasting relationship. That bond of affection we hold onto through thick and thin. General McClellan and the army of the Potomac in the civil war and General Lee and the army of northern Virginia had such relationships with their soldiers. Adored, their men fought for the love of their general, possibly lengthening the civil war, which otherwise may have ended sooner. Good wants us to intimately know and experience the love of Jesus Christ and then demonstrate that love toward each other. This is the essence of the appeal of this prayer.


14    Here the argument is picked up from 3:1 after an interruption of some 13 verses ‘For this reason.’ The additional content elaborating on the mystery—the unity of Jews and Gentiles in Christ as one ‘new person’ makes the following information even more forceful. Namely, that in lite of all God has done to create this dynamic unity thru Christ between these alienated parties, a prayer for a stronger personal bond between them would result.

We know it is a prayer because he says he ‘bows the knee’ which is one of several postures for praying including standing, lying prostrate, and with head bowed or hands raised. The bowing of knees may represent humility in prayer but it is the attitude, which is significant. There is no biblically correct way to pray. Actually, the most important thing about prayer is that you pray.

It is true that God the Father is the Father of Jesus Christ but Jesus also taught us to pray to our “Father” in heaven. As our father, he has our best interests at heart.

15    But our Father in heaven is also identified as a Sovereign God. The idea is that every family whether in heaven or on the earth has its origin in God as creator. Notice that both heavenly families as well as e4arthly ones have a common dependence on the Father. That includes angels as well as humans. In Heb 12:9 God is called the Father of spirits. So all of us are accountable to the Sovereign, ultimate authority, but never forget that this same person is also your Father. An angel tried to usurp God       and a human tried the same. Both wanted autonomy equal to God’s. But there is only one creator and we are all dependent and never autonomous. Desire for autonomy will only get you everlasting condemnation and banishment. Life comes in recognizing your dependence on God. That recognition will bring you in relationship with God and then motivate you to address your prayers to Him as your Father.


The lesson of this prayer is that each of us plea for a comprehension of Christ’s love which in turn would cause us to love each other. A divided church instead of being a sign of God’s conquering love is a witness of evil distortion.

1. Become strong in your inner person 16-17a.

16     We all come from different backgrounds and so require unity. Lincoln’s cabinet was made up of his rivals he purposely placed there to balance the competing opinions. He forged a divided cabinet into a strong united one during the civil war and that unity eventually brought victory and a united country when the war ended. In the case of the church, God has all of the necessary resources available to provide whatever is essential to answer our prayers—according to the riches of his glory. Based on this appeal we can make requests that, impossible for us to answer, are not so with God.

The request is that we would be strong in our spiritual lives. This is what God wants for us. This is what God is working to procure through every circumstance of our lives. God is working in you and on you to make you stronger spiritually. God wants to do that by means of the HS. It is through the HS that we are strengthened with God’s ability to act and make us stronger in our inner being. God does not want us to just conform outwardly he wants us changed deep within where our passions lay. Where our inner thoughts germinate. Where our character is fed. God wants us transformed from within (Rom 12).

17a The reason for this transformation is that Christ may be at home deeply rooted within our hearts by faith. That Christ becomes the controlling factor in attitudes and conduct. Once again the Trinity is at work here—Father 14, HS 16, Son 17! All 3 involved in the growth of believers.

2. So we can comprehend Christ’s love filled with God’s fullness 17b-19

17b   Being rooted and grounded in love refers to God having chosen us in Christ, predestined, redeemed, sealed, made alive, raised and seated in the heavenlies, and now equal as one new person in body of Christ. So the root and foundation has already been established. We bask in this love already.

18 Now that we do, then all of us as believers together with all the saints need to comprehend the vastness of the love of Christ. Not the miracles of Christ or the power of Christ—but the love of Christ. Rom 8:39 refers to the vastness of the love of Christ—‘height’ and ‘depth’. This love in which we are rooted and grounded is enormous to comprehend

19     First, this love is extraordinary. To comprehend the love of Christ is beyond the capability of any human being. Christ willing to die for sinners is not the way to self-actualization! We do not think in the categories God does. We are out for number one. The reality of Christ’s love is overwhelming to us from conversion continuing as growth in the knowledge of Christ progresses. No matter how much knowledge we have in Christ and his work, his love surpasses that knowledge. The more we learn of His love the more amazed we are by it.

Second, Our relationship to Christ and the knowledge of His love now makes it possible for us to be filled up to all the fullness of God. Knowing this love personally we might also be filled with God’s moral excellence—that His very character would be lived out through us. That we could communicate God’s grace, His goodness, His wisdom, His righteousness, His mercy, His truth. That we would grow in our capacity to express these virtues toward one another as we comprehend Christ’s love for us.

1. Our priorities are outward, physical, intellectual, professional—Gods are inward, spiritual, understanding and character. 2. Spend your time studying, reflecting, comprehending Christ’s love for you. Love others that way