If you’d like to pray with the power of the Apostle Paul, start with this prayer from Ephesians and meditate on what each part means using the learning guide below.”

  • Paul has five prayers—2 in Ephesians, 1 in Philippians, 1 in Colossians, and 1 in 2 Thessalonians.
  • If you want you to know what Paul taught, read his prayers and hear what he wants them to know.
  • If you want to hear a good summary of a pastor’s sermon, listen to his closing prayer.  That is what he wants you to take home.
  • Ephesians 2—Text about the doctrine of the body of Christ.  God has taken the lost individual from alienation of sin and brought him into intimacy with God as God’s child through Jesus Christ. 
  • God has taken the Gentiles and reconciled them with Jews to become one body in Christ. 

 14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.

  • Kneeling in the ancient world could signify subordination, servility, or worship.  Jews usually prayed standing up.
  • Family—stands for a group derived from a single ancestor.
  • Every family in heaven”—taken as referring to family groupings or classes of angels.
  • Every family on earth”—taken to show that we all have one Father—Jews and Gentiles. 
  • derives its name”—evokes some of the OT connotations of naming in terms of exercising dominion over or even bringing into existence. 
  • The Father, then, is Creator and Lord of all family groupings; their existence and significance is dependent on Him. 

V16– 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,

  • Riches of His glory”—used 3x in the NT.  Storehouse by which this prayer will be answered. 
  • Paul speaking about the infinite benevolence God wants to bestow upon His children.
  • The glory of God may be the sum total of all His attributes. 
  • God wants us to strengthen our inner man—He does not want spiritual wimps but those who are powerful and mighty inwardly.  2 Cor. 4:16
Do not pray for easy lives; pray to be stronger people! Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers; pray for powers equal to your tasks. Then doing of you world shall be no miracle, but you shall be a miracle. Everyday you shall wonder at yourself, at the richness of life which has come to you by the grace of God.Phillips Brooks, Leadership, Vol. 6, no. 3.

God is not looking for a church that is intellectually bright or highly emotional or legalistic but He is looking for a church that is spiritually dynamic.   

V17   17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,

  • Why be strengthened in the inner man?  “So that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith.”
  • DwellKataoiko—to permanently settle down.  Not oiko—temporary focus (i.e. to rent) but kataoiko—to own and permanently.  
  • Parsonage vs. the Lyons’ river house. 
  • When one rents, you can decorate.  When one owns, you can renovate
  • A house reflects who lives there—can tell if a military man lives there or an athlete or just a college student. 
  • “by faith”—turn over the title deed to their lives. 
  • There are many Christians that are “rented” or “decorated”—they have the Christian bumper stickers, they know the order to the service and they attend on Sundays but Christ does not have priority in their lives.
  • Paul wants Christ to move in.  When Christ dwells in their hearts, their morals, values, priorities, language, marriage, children—all have been taken over by Jesus Christ—every area of their lives. 
  • What is Jesus most concerned with at Wellford Baptist?  Our sanctuary or our buildings?  Whether our service lasted 1 hour or 1 hour 15minutes?  Whether we have a coffee pot or how many plates we have served on covered dish?  He is MOST CONCERNED about our hearts.
  • It was until 384 years after Christ ascended into heaven that Christians began meeting in church buildings. 
  • Paul wants people to look at us as Christians and say—I see God in their life. 
  • “and that you being rooted and grounded in love”—is this a prayer request?  No, it is a FACT. 
  • When we accept Christ, we are rooted and grounded in love whether we like it or not. 
  • When we trust in Christ, we become a branch from the vine of Christ.  John 15:1-11.  If a branch does not bear fruit, it is broken off and thrown into the fire.  Why?  Because they were never Christians.
  • Grounded—Only one foundation all of these stones are built upon—the foundation of Jesus Christ.  1 Peter 2.  Jews, Hispanics, blacks, Caucasians, etc.—all grounded in Jesus Christ. 
  • Immediately after a child is born, they place the child on the stomach of the mother so he will know there is love and warmth. 
  • New Christians must immediately learn that they are infinitely loved by God.
  • Kids must have no doubt about their parents love.  Don’t make kids think your love is conditioned upon their obedience.
In his book, Connecting, Larry Crabb writes:A friend of mine was raised in an angry family. Mealtimes were either silent or sarcastically noisy. Down the street was an old-fashioned house with a big porch where a happy family lived. My friend told me that when he was about ten, he began excusing himself from his dinner table as soon as he could without being yelled at, and walking to the old-fashioned house down the street. If he arrived during dinnertime, he would crawl under the porch and just sit there, listening to the sounds of laughter.When he told me this story, I asked him to imagine what it would have been like if the father in the house somehow knew he was huddled beneath the porch and sent his son to invite him in. I asked him to envision what it would have meant to him to accept the invitation, to sit at the table, to accidentally spill his glass of water, and hear the father roar with delight, “Get him more water! And a dry shirt! I want him to enjoy the meal!”Crabb goes on to say, “We need to hear the Father laugh. Change depends on experiencing the character of God.”David Slagle, Lawrenceville, Georgia; source: Larry Crabb, Connecting (Word, 1997)

Work relationship—with our jobs, sports, etc.  QB—works relationship—throws a touchdown, everyone cheers.  Throws an interception, everyone boos him.  Jobs—praise is conditional on performance—legalistic relationship.  We make our relationship with God like that.

V18—18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,

  • that you may be able to seize” (or comprehend or grasp)—means to throw arms around and squeeze. 
  • The word for “grasp”—is katalambano—means to “lay hold of, seize with eagerness, suddenness . . . in allusion to the public games, to obtain the prize with the idea of eager and strenuous exertion.”
  • This prize is one worth expending our most strenuous energies on. 
  • Paul wants them to grasp how much God loves them. 
  • . . .with ALL the saints”—this includes Billy Graham and someone who has just accepted Christ in the last five minutes. 
  • In the Tabernacle, the holy of holies was a cube—10x10x10x10—perfect symmetry. 
  • In the Temple, the holy of holies was a cube—20x20x20x20—perfect symmetry. 
  • “Breadth”—that God loved Paul and Peter, who were Jews and He loves Gentiles 2000 years later in Yemassee.  That God loves AIDS patients and prostitutes.  We put God in a box and says He has to look like me—a white Protestant. 
  • Voltaire—“God made man in His image and we have ever more returned the favor.”
  • “Length”—world sinned against God and He was so patient.  Romans 3:25.  We were horrible sinners.  God saved us and drew us to Himself and He continues to perfect us our entire life.
  • “Height”—God has taken me a sinner and made me a Son.  He has put my name on the book of life and He has seated me in the heavenly places with Him.
  • “Depth”—sent His Son to be spit upon, beaten, crucified, and rejected for me.  Jesus was cursed for me and you.  Read the crucifixion account and realize He did it for you and me.  Unless we truly know that, we will just be acting it all out.  It won’t be real to us.

 V19  19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

  • “to know the love of Christ”—speaks of experiencing this love.  Talk to older Christians who have buried a mate or buried a child and they have seen up-close how real God is and have experienced His love.
  • “which surpasses knowledge”—there will never be a time where we say in our Christian walk, “I have arrived.  Every promise and attribute of God I have experienced!”
  • Newlyweds—they may say all this mushy things at their wedding, but they are only now going to begin to experience love when the going gets tough. 
  • Very easy to be religious—to have a relationship, it takes grounding, understanding and experiencing God’s love.
  • The result of Paul’s prayer is this—“that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.” 
  • The goal is that everything that God is will be in us—God hates sin, I want to hate sin.  God loves sinners, I want to love sinners.  God is infinitely patient, I want to be patient.  God is infinitely giving . . .

 V20-21   21 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

  • Benediction—Paul is closing out his prayer.
  • This is the most extravagant Greek sentence in all of Paul’s writings in the NT.
  • Paul talking about Christians being the reflection of God Almighty on this earth.
  • This is an impossible prayer but we have an impossible God.
  • Is God able to do all that we ask?  No, too simple.
  • Is God able to do all that we ask or think?  No, too simple. 
  • Is God able to do beyond all that we ask or think?  No, too simple.
  • Is God able to do abundantly beyond all that we ask or think?  No, too simple.
  • “God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, beyond all we ask or think . . .”
  • Paul has a super, enormous God.  That is why he was able to do so much because his God was so big.
  • Super or beyond is used 28x in the Greek NT.  Paul uses it 22x.  Paul’s God is super.


A young boy went to the local store with his mother. The shop owner, a kindly man, passed him a large jar of suckers and invited him to help himself to a handful. Uncharacteristically, the boy held back. So the shop owner pulled out a handful for him.When outside, the boy’s mother asked why he had suddenly been so shy and wouldn’t take a handful of suckers when offered.The boy replied, “Because his hand is much bigger than mine!”Brian Harris, Mt. Roskill, Auckland, New Zealand


Sermon of Tommy Nelson of Denton Bible Church in 1990—Ephesians 3:14-21

The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Epistles to the

Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians—by FF Bruce.