March 8, 2018
Today, we come to one of, if not the, most powerful prayers in all of the Bible. If ever we wanted to be in agreement with a prayer, this is it. It’s amazing to consider that we have a prayer right out of the prayerbook of a first century Apostle of Jesus Christ. In this prayer Paul practically diagrams how our relationship with God works.
For this reason, I kneel. . .
First of all, note Paul’s posture. “I kneel.” When is the last time you knelt (outside of a church service) for prayer. Kneeling takes prayer to a whole new level (no pun intended). Kneeling gets our prayers out of our heads, brings our posture into alignment with ultimate reality, communicates humility, conveys respect and otherwise signals a visible movement of faith in an unseen reality.
before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.
It strikes me that for Paul, the Gospel is for everyone or it is for no-one. God is the Father of all or of none. Every family is every family. The Father is not “Paul’s truth,” in the way that someone else’s god could be their truth too. The scope of the Gospel is the whole world, Jews and Gentiles, even in heaven and on earth—every family.
I pray that out of his glorious riches.
Now we come to the prayer. He appeals to the vast reserves of the Heavenly realms. Paul is praying for a transfer of Divine wealth from an account in Heaven to an account on Earth. With a few swipes and clicks on my phone, I can transfer money from one account to another. Paul prays for the movement of Divine currency from God’s to people. Here’s how it moves.
[H]e may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,. . .
Note the three prepositional phrases: “with power, through his Spirit, in your inner being.” Our tendency as broken human beings is just the opposite. It’s more like “with resolve, through our spirit in our outer persona. Left to ourselves, we always gravitate toward image management. We care most about our outer appearance. The true and real life God created us for is all about our inner being. Our tendency is to ask God to use his power to impact our external world and affairs. This prayer articulates a different way and to a different end, which is the following:
so that Christ may dwell in your hearts
If I examine my own prayers I find they tend to ask God to be the great actor and intervener in the world. I spend a lot of energy asking God to do things and change things and otherwise save the day. Paul’s interest seems to be different. It’s more about God working in and through his people. God wills to indwell the inmost being of people, filling us with his Spirit, and forming within us the very image of Jesus Christ.
I think this may be the most misunderstood and misappropriated element of the prayer. I once heard someone define faith as believing in something you know is not true. Faith does not mean hoping something is true. Faith is not mere assent to the truth of something. Faith is movemental activity. It is visible reliance on an unseen reality.
The best and most compelling example of faith is Jesus himself. Through the life of Jesus, as revealed in the Gospels, God shows us what he intends to do for us and in us and through us. Faith is the Holy Spirit infused realm of human activity by which the awakening movement of Divine grace moves in the world. It is the touch-point and interface between Heaven and Earth.
Abba Father, we thank you for your son, Jesus, who not only walks on water but calls us out of our boats; who not only heals but would make us healers in his name; who not only multiplies fishes and loaves but would multiply the gift of our lives. I want to move in a new level of faith. Show me what this means? What in me must decrease so faith in you might increase. We pray in Jesus name, amen.
- Which one of the phrases from today’s text most challenges you today? Why?
- What do you make of this distinction between our outer persona and our inner being? To what extent do you live with awareness that you have an inner being?
- How are you challenged by this definition of “through faith” in today’s reflection?
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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. firstname.lastname@example.org.