Paul’s Five Prayers for the Whole Family, Eph 3:14-21

Our lesson today covers Eph 3:14-21, in which Paul makes five prayer requests for “the whole family in heaven and earth,” [Eph 3:15].  This whole family is made up of all those “in Christ,” [Eph 1:10], whether they are already in heaven or whether they are still on earth.

In our prior Sunday school lesson, we learned that God revealed the hidden mystery of Christ [Eph 3:3-4] to Paul.  This mystery is “that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel,” [Eph 3:6].  That is, all those saved through the gospel of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ are in the same body.

Therefore, Paul said in Eph 3:14, “For this cause, I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  He had some special prayer requests he wanted to make just for the members of the body of Christ.  There are five special requests that Paul makes which are, by far, the most important things that those in the whole family must have.

Paul prayed:

That we would be strengthened with might by his Spirit – Eph 3:16 – when Paul asked the Lord to grant this request, he asked it “according to the riches of his glory.”  His riches are sufficient to supply all your need, whatever your need [Phil 4:19].  His request was specifically “to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man.”  There is no more powerful spirit in the universe than the Spirit of God.  In Zech 4:6, the Lord said, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit saith the Lord of hosts.”  Any job God has for you to do in the body of Christ can be done by the might of the Spirit of God. Micah said, in Mic 3:8, “I am full of power by the spirit of the Lord.”  

This power is in the inner man because the outer man of flesh is weak and corrupt.  Imagine men in the body of Christ relying upon their own temporal means to get the work of God done.  It’s no wonder that they have had to provide rock music, light shows, video projections, and other sensual pleasures to entertain a crowd. They’re working with the arm of flesh [2 Chr 32:7-8].  Paul, by contrast, prayed for the Spirit to strengthen the inner man.  He will get everything done that God wants done.

That Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith – Eph 3:17 – when a person gets saved, Jesus Christ dwells inside of him, whether the new creature in Christ knows it or not [2 Tim 2:13].  Jesus said, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee,” [Heb 13:5].  There are a number of wayward Christians, that we all know who have Christ in them, but he is not dwelling in them “by faith.”  

When Christ dwells in your heart by faith, you walk by faith [2 Cor 5:7] and live by faith [Gal 3:11; Gal 2:20]. When you live by the faith of Christ, then Christ lives his life in you.  There is no better or more powerful way to live the Christian life than that.  

That we may comprehend the breadth, length, depth, and height – Eph 3:18 – this prayer request and the next one are conditioned on something.  You must be rooted and grounded in love.  Among faith, hope, and charity, the greatest of these is charity [1 Cor 13:13].  Paul said, “though I have all faith… and have not charity, I am nothing,” [1 Cor 13:2].  So, you have to be rooted and grounded in love to get this [1 Jn 4:19-21].

Paul’s request, then, was “that ye… may be able to comprehend with all saints…”  And then he gives you four dimensions that he wants us to comprehend.  There is no way to understand what he’s asking without the right cross reference.  The reference is in Job 11:7-9.  In this passage we see that the perfection of God Almighty is “high as heaven” (height), “deeper than hell” (depth), “longer than the earth” (length), and “broader than the sea” (breadth).  In other words, Paul wants us to understand that, by being in the body of Christ, “the stature of the fulness of Christ,” [Eph 4:13], we are in heavenly places with Christ far above all principality and power in the fulness of him that filleth all in all [Eph 1:20-23].  The saints fill the breadth, length, depth, and height, by being in Jesus.  We are indeed seated in heavenly places in Christ [Eph 2:6]. 

That we may know the love of Christ – Eph 3:19 – notice that the love of Christ “passeth knowledge.”  So, he was not praying that we would know about his love.  He was praying that we would know his love.  He wants us to enjoy the love of Christ like John did.  John referred to himself as the disciple “whom Jesus loved,” [Jn 21:20].  See 1 Jn 4:16-19, for example.  This is like having the peace of God that passeth all understanding [Phil 4:7].  You don’t have to understand it to have it.

That we might be filled with all the fulness of God – Eph 3:19 – Can you imagine being filled with all the fulness of God, himself.  That’s an amazing prayer request.  You see in Col 2:9-10 that all the fulness of the Godhead dwelleth bodily in Jesus Christ. Therefore, we are complete in Jesus, and the fulness of God dwells in us, when Jesus dwells in us.  Praise the Lord!!

Paul prayed for these five things with confidence [Eph 3:12] because he knew God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us [Eph 3:20].  And he knew that if God would answer these prayers, he would be glorified in the church by Christ Jesus [Eph 3:21]. God would be glorified, not only in the church in Ephesus, but in all the saints “throughout all ages, world without end.”  God’s glory was always the desire of the Lord Jesus when he was in the earth and it is his desire now that he is in us.

Conclusion: you can see from these five prayer requests, that Paul was praying for these things to be in each saint in the church.  When all the saints are filled with the Spirit, and Christ is dwelling in each heart by faith, and all the saints, rooted and grounded in love, comprehend the fulness of God, and all know experientially the love of Christ, and all are filled with the fulness of God, we don’t need anything else.  This is the full package.  And through these five things God will be glorified in the church by Christ Jesus.