Pray for God’s bold strength
“For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father,
from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name,
that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory
to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man,
so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you,
being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints
what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ
which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.”
Ephesians 3:14–19 (NASB95)
PLYMOUTH – God put this passage of Scripture on my heart when I started my ministry with the churches of the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. As I read the Apostle Paul's prayer, verse 16 especially stuck out to me. Paul prays that the church “be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man…” The focus of my ministry has been to “Strengthen Churches.” Spiritual strength is what you and I need individually as believers, and it's what we need collectively as the people of God. We need strong believers in strong churches glorifying God, and taking steps to advance Gospel movement.
The Apostle Paul is in prison for his faith in Christ as he prays these words. It’s a remarkable scene. This man who has traveled to some of the greatest cities of his world to share the Gospel is now in prison because of that same Gospel. His world is reduced to the space between the walls that held him. Physically, he can only move a few feet in every direction. The most important distance he moves is to his knees. From there, he prays a prayer that touches the heart of God for the people of God.
I can see Paul in my mind as he kneels "before the Father" in verse 14. He is entering the presence of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. The word “before” means "facing." The picture is of an intentional turning toward God. Paul focuses intently on God as he willingly bends his knees in humble submission. His heart and mind are captured by the God who changed his life on the Damascus Road. His body is imprisoned, but Paul’s reality is not defined by the difficult circumstances around him, but by the Christ above him. Paul prays and the impact of that prayer reverberates in the church even today.
Paul boldly asks God in verse 16 "that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man..."
Paul’s burning desire in this text is not for his freedom. It would have been OK for him to pray for release, but that’s not his first concern. He prays for God's people to be strengthened. Isn’t that amazing? His prayer isn’t about him. It’s about us. He asks God to make us strong in Christ.
Notice where this strength comes from. It comes from the riches of God’s glory. Do you see the flow? It’s from God to us. It comes to us according to the riches of His glory. That’s good news because there is no limit to the riches of God’s glory. Paul asks God to strengthen us, not out of our riches, but according to His riches.
The universe, and all that it contains, cannot contain the riches of God's glory. Here is a deep, abiding, limitless source of strength, available to believers from the inexhaustible riches of God’s glory. Paul prays for us to be strengthened with power through His spirit in the inner man according to the riches of God’s glory.
Now, that’s a prayer! It's a bold, audacious, incredible prayer for the People of God! You and I need that strength as we follow Christ. So, let's follow Paul's example and pray boldly for God to strengthen Michigan Baptist churches. Let's pray that God strengthens us according to the riches of His glory. And let's watch as God does great and amazing things in and through spiritually strong people and churches.
As I retire, I can think of no better benediction to leave with Michigan Baptists than the words of Paul:
“Now to Him who is able
to do far more abundantly
beyond all that we ask or think,
according to the power that works within us,
to Him be the glory in the church
and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”
Ephesians 3:20–21 (NASB95)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mike Durbin is the State Evangelism Director for the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. Before joining the state convention staff, Mike served as Church Planting Catalyst and Director of Missions in Metro Detroit since 2007. He also has served as a pastor and bi-vocational pastor in Michigan, as well as International Missionary to Brazil.