The Content of the Prayer: Page 2 of 4 (series: Lessons on Ephesians)
by John Lowe
4. He is worthy of our praise and worship, which we express primarily in prayer.
Is it wrong then to pray to Christ? God is the Father of Christ, not by creation, nor adoption, but by generation, being the only begotten of the Father; and as such we are right in praying to Him. God is the Father of His people in and through Christ; and there is no other way of coming to Him but by Christ; and all spiritual blessings come though Christ, and from God, as the Father of Christ. Undoubtedly, prayer should ordinarily be addressed to God, our Father; but this does not make it improper to address the Lord Jesus in prayer―“And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen” (Acts 1:24). The prayer is addressed to the Lord Jesus, and it is a recollection of His insight into the hearts of men (John 2:24; John 6:64). Furthermore, the prayer of Stephen (Acts 7:59-60) shows, that direct prayer to the Son was not foreign to the minds of the disciples.
15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
This expression “of whom” may refer either to “the Father,” or to “the Lord Jesus”; the latter being the more natural interpretation.
“The whole family of God,” is made up of all the believers in the Lord Jesus Christ on earth, the spirits of just men made perfect in a separate state, and all the holy angels in heaven. They make up one family and are all of one community―they are all one, and of one―of which God is the Father and Head. The expression “is named” is taken from the custom in a family, where all bear the name of the “head” of the family; and the meaning is that all in heaven and on earth are united under one head. And this family derives its origin and being from God, as children derive their name from him who is the father of the family. Holy persons in heaven and earth derive their being and their holiness from God. Christ gives the name of Christians to all the real members of His Church upon earth; and to all the spirits of just men (saved since His advent, and through His blood) in heaven. They are all the sons and daughters of God Almighty. No matter where they are, in heaven or on earth; no matter from what nation they are converted, whether Jews or Gentiles, they all have one name, and one Redeemer, and all belong to one family (see Ephesians 4:4-6).
16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;
“That he would grant you”
This prayer by the apostle is one of the most imposing and inspiring in all the Word of God. The riches of the grace of the Gospel, and the extent to which the soul of man may be saved here on earth, are most emphatically pointed out here. Every word seems to have come immediately from heaven; laboring to convey ideas of infinite importance to mankind. No paraphrase can do it justice, and few commentators seem to have entered into its spirit; perhaps deterred by its unparalleled sublimity. I shall only attempt to make a few observations regarding a few terms, to show their force and meaning; and leave all the rest to that Spirit by which these extremely important words were dictated.
“According to the riches of his glory”
According to the measure of His own eternal richness; God’s infinite mercy and goodness is the gauge according to which we are to be saved. In giving alms it is a maxim that everyone should give according to their ability. It would be a disgrace for a king or a president to give no more than a businessman or a farmer. God acts up to the dignity of His infinite perfections; He gives according to the “riches of His glory.” However, you can expect nothing from Him that does not come as a free gift through Christ Jesus; let this be a ruling sentiment of your hearts when you pray to God.
I would like to spend a few moments here on this amazing phrase—that He would grant you His strength in the inner man “according to the riches of His glory.” You may remember that we've had in chapters one and two, the riches of grace and the riches of mercy. Now in chapter three, we have had the “unsearchable riches of Christ” and here in verse 16, “the riches of His glory.” You see, the riches of glory proceed from the throne. The riches of grace proceed from the cross.
May I take a little moment here to contrast these two? Riches of grace is the provision made by God whereby men and women, sinners, can be transformed and prepared for the presence of God. It's according to the riches of grace that we have forgiveness; according to the riches of grace we have redemption. You may remember that in Ephesians 1:7 it says, “In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.”
The “riches of grace” proceed from the cross.
This is what makes me fit for the presence of God. Now then, “the riches of glory” proceed from the throne. And Paul is praying here that he may be made powerfully strong “according to His riches in glory.”
I just trust that today you will be reveling in this fact. The riches of glory are for you—all that Jesus Christ is on the throne of God. Remember, four times in Hebrews, I read that He sat down on the right hand of God. That means that our Savior has been given all authority in heaven and in earth. Everything is in His hands; and He's altogether, completely for you today. He meets your need according to His riches in glory, and you can come right to the throne of grace. And how close is the throne of God to you? How close is the throne of grace to you? So close that you can touch it.
The moment you start to pray, the moment you call upon your Savior for your present need, He hears you. And I love that verse in Psalm 34:17, telling us that the ear of the Lord is open to the cry of the righteous. “The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.” What a wonderful thing, this is. I tell you, it's a marvelous thing to revel in the riches of His grace. But it's also a wonderful thing to revel in the riches of His glory.
“To be strengthened with might”
Now here is a request for strength; he prays that we might be made powerfully strong by His Spirit. He wants us to have a life that is energized by the Spirit of God. Now the place where this energizing is to take place is in the inner man, the place where we are the weakest. And by the way, oh how we need this strength. As Paul could say, “I strive according to the working of Him who worketh in me mightily.” Where? In the inner man.
You have many enemies, cunning and strong; many trials, too great for your natural strength; many temptations, which no human power is able to successfully resist; many duties to perform, which cannot be accomplished by the strength of man; therefore you need Divine strength; you must have might; and you must be strengthened everywhere, and in every way fortified by that might; mightily and effectively strengthened.
My friend, this is what you need; this is what I need. You and I are facing unseen powers. Satan seems to know that his time is very, very short; and we see rebellion all around us in every part of the world. Those foundations, which we thought were strong and stable, are crumbling into the dust and the structures are falling down. Our nation has been pulled to pieces like the rest of the world. Evil men are in authority everywhere; “evil men and seducers are increasing and getting worse and worse."
And Paul could say in 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, “but though our outward man perishes, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporary; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
You remember in 2 Corinthians 4:7, Paul says, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” In 2 Corinthians 10:4, Paul says, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds.” Paul is praying that we might be made powerfully strong by His Spirit in the inner man. And I say that that is the part of our being where we are the weakest, where we need the most strength—in the inner man, not the outward man.
And the place of action by the Spirit of God, where we need to be made powerfully strong, is in the inner man. God, give us some strong men, men who are strong spiritually. I'm not talking about physical strength but strength to stand in these days when there is so much corruption, when men are rejecting the word of God, when men ridicule Christ the Savior, when intellectual leaders are full of arrogance with respect to the person of God. Paul prays that we might be made powerfully strong in the inner man.
“By his Spirit”
By the sovereign energy of the Holy Ghost. This fountain of spiritual energy can single-handedly supply the spiritual strength which is necessary for this spiritual work and warfare. May God grant to you and to me that we might be made powerfully strong by His Spirit. Where? In the inner man. This is our weakest part—in the inner man. And yet this is where Christ dwells in the believer. And if you let Christ have His way—His will instead of your will, His desires instead of your desires, His purpose instead of your purpose—you'll find yourself made strong, powerfully strong by His Spirit in the inner man. And it's according to His riches in glory.