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A Prayer for Strength


Ephesians 3:14-21 records for us a prayer that the Apostle Paul prayed for the Ephesian believers. It’s a prayer for God to grant them strength in their inner man. When life is confusing and we’re feeling weak, it’s in those times when we may feel like we don’t know how to pray. So, let’s pray like the Apostle Paul.


Note: In Ephesians 3, Paul is praying this prayer for others, but consider praying it for yourself.


“For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant (me,) according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in (my heart) by faith; that (I would be) rooted and grounded in love, (and that I) may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And (that I would) know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that (I) might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”

Consider the purpose, posture, Person, petitions and the power of Paul’s prayer for strength.


First, notice Paul’s purpose in praying what he did. Verse 14 begins, “For this cause I bow my knees…” The purpose or “cause” of his prayer is explained in verse 13. His “desire” is “that ye faint not…” He’s burdened that believers remain strong in their faith in Christ. In verse 12 he powerfully reminds them of the “boldness and access with confidence” they should have “by the faith of Him.” His cause or purpose in prayer is for God to strengthen believers at the core of who they are.

Secondly, notice Paul’s posture in prayer. He says, “I bow my knees…” Various physical postures of prayer are mentioned in Scripture, yet none is necessarily better than the other. Whether you’re kneeling, standing, sitting or even lying down, the key is the posture of your heart. Physically bowing your knees is symbolic of a humble spirit. However, people can physically bow while at the same time have a raging rebellion in their heart. Whatever your physical prayer posture, be certain that the posture of your heart is a humble dependence on God. Your heart should not be entitled or arrogant but instead your inner man cries, “God, I need You. You are my Lord and Master and I humbly and dependently bow my heart to You and Your will.” Paul’s posture represents humility and a submissive spirit.


Thirdly, consider the Person to whom Paul prays. He prays “unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…” In that simple phrase, Paul touches on the divine nature of Jesus by describing the hypostatic union. He prays to God “the Father” Who is the Father of “Jesus” of Nazareth (a term relating to His humanity) and he refers to Jesus as “Lord” and “Christ,” (terms describing His divinity).


Paul explains the individual personhood that Jesus possesses, a personhood distinct from His Father, but also Paul mentions the equality Jesus has with His Father by calling Jesus “Lord.” Additionally, Paul references Jesus’ messiahship by identifying Him as “Christ.” Paul is essentially saying, as he does often in his writings, “Unequivocally, Jesus is the anointed One!” All of this is an extremely thoughtful and respectful way to address the Person of God.

As Paul continues to describe the Person of God to whom he prays, he states, “Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.” He is saying that he’s invoking the same God as believers did from past and current generations. Old Testament people like Abraham had long since died when Paul was living, along with other believers who had lived in previous generations to Paul. Those believers are part of the “whole family in heaven.” Paul is saying, “I am praying to the same God that believers who are already in heaven prayed to, and I’m praying to the same God that believers currently on the earth are naming.”


Fourthly, this brings us to Paul’s petitions in prayer. “That he would grant you according to the riches of his glory…”

1) To be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man;

2) That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith;

3) That ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; (of that love)

4) And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge,

5) That ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

Notice that the petitions of his prayer emphasize a strengthening on the inside both emotionally and intellectually, heart and mind. Paul focuses his prayer on their “inner man,” their “hearts,” but he also prays that they would “know” and “comprehend” things that pertain to the “love of Christ.” Paul is aware of a believer’s propensity toward disingenuous externalism; thus, his prayer focuses on the internal genuineness and intellectual awareness of their faith. Essentially, he’s praying that they would be spiritually strengthened as they endeavor to love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. (Matthew 22:34-40, Deut. 6:5, Mark 12:30)


He’s praying that in spite of whatever comes their way, that they would look at their temporal circumstances through the lens of what Christ has lovingly done for them. Paul wants them to be strong in genuinely seeing their lives through the lens of the eternality of the gospel. This realignment to a big picture gospel perspective is spiritually medicinal and can calm the panic that often accompanies times of crisis in this temporal life. Because, after all, “Christ is dwelling in (my) hearts by faith,” so why fear? The presence of Christ in their hearts is a comforting prayer and needful reminder in any time of tribulation. (vs13)


Further, notice the trinitarian emphasis in the prayer. We are strengthened “by His Spirit” (vs 16), and we are to know the “love of Christ” (vs 19) and we are to “be filled with all the fullness of God.” This prayer initially addresses the “Father” (vs 14) yet it beautifully includes each member of the divine trinity.

As Paul concludes his prayer, he recognizes a power much greater than his own human abilities provide. Paul says, “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us…”

God is so powerful that He can do unfathomable things through us. Did you catch that? His mind-blowing power can work through us. The access to this kind of divine power has the potential to puff us up in pride, so Paul makes sure to humbly give God all the glory when he says, “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”

Notice the phrase “in the church.” When God grants this kind of renewed strength, a church is enabled to do amazing things in spite of the inevitable spiritual adversity.

“The gates of hell will not prevail against the church.” (Matthew 16:18) And, it’s in the church where He should receive all the glory!


Paul’s prayer for spiritual strength should be prayed often. It’s spiritually healthy to regularly rehearse Paul’s purpose, posture, Person, petitions and power as described in Ephesians 3:14-21. May God divinely strengthen us “according to the riches of His glory by Christ Jesus.”

After having read the above explanation of Ephesians 3:14-21 consider praying this Prayer for Strength…

“For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant (me,) according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in (my heart) by faith; that (I would be) rooted and grounded in love, (and that I) may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And (that I would) know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that (I) might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”


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