I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. (Ephesians 3:16-17, NRSV)
This prayer for spiritual blessings comes from Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians. In this segment, his hope is that they will develop the capacity to pray in meaningful ways and to develop a strong relationship with Christ.
Given the definition of some of the key words and phrases: Paul’s hope appears to be based on God’s strong desire that through a combination of faith, prayer, belief in and understanding of the divine truth, and the love of Christ, each person’s status as a follower, or one of the chosen will be solidified.
Rephrased, with these definitions: I pray that, God, in His Divine Wisdom, may grant that your belief be fortified, through prayer and the counsel of the Holy Spirit, and that Christ inhabits your core through faith, as you become entrenched and secure in His love.
- Riches of His glory = the most precious realities of the spiritual realm
- Strengthened = fortified; made stronger
- Inner being = the heart of a believer
- Power = capacity to do something
- Dwell = live; inhabit
- Heart = the core; source and center of all emotion, where the deepest and most sincere feelings are located
- Faith = confidence/belief, even in the absence of logical proof
- Rooted = well-established, entrenched
- Grounded = secure
I pray, in fact, I pray a lot. Once I found out that He wanted me to bring all of my concerns to Him, I flooded the airwaves. Some issues appear to be taken care of right away, while others seem to linger, unresolved, or perhaps, are resolved in a way that I never asked for or imagined.
While Paul affirms that the underlying motivation for prayer should generally be spiritual growth, James words really struck a chord with me — there are right and wrong ways to pray — all based on an appropriate motivation — love:
You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures. (James 4:3, NRSV)
I wish I could say that I had never prayed a “wrong” prayer, but it wouldn’t be true. I have asked for specific self-motivated outcomes — that people be changed in order to make my life easier, and for situations to change so that my own needs are met at the expense of others. The reality is that I find it easier to pray “appropriately,” when all is going well, or in light of evidence that a prayer has been answered in my favor. It’s much more difficult to formulate an appropriate prayer when I am feeling beaten down, insecure, unloved, anxious, weak, overwhelmed, or defeated. (Of course, these are the times that my motivation should strictly follow Paul’s wishes — yet, easier said than done sometimes.)
In reflecting, I know that the motivation behind my prayer should be to strengthen my understanding and my relationship with God so that I can reap all of the rewards of his priceless and unfailing love. It should thus always be guided by the Spirit, rooted in love, and cognizant of the promises held in the Scriptures.
What do I truly long for?
Every [wo]man longs for love that never fails. (Proverbs 19:22a, NIV)
What are some of the particular promises that I can count on when I am faced with impossible circumstances, or life becomes too difficult?
Jesus replied, “Things that are impossible with people are possible with God.” (Luke 18:27, NRSV)
[She] will call out to me, and I will answer [her]. I will be with [her] in times of trouble. I will save [her] and honor [her]. (Psalms 91:15, NRSV)
All of which are exactly what I need and can only be found through Him — with the aid of right-motivated prayer.
Reflection and Prayer
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words. (Romans 8:26, NIV)
Lord, let the Holy Spirit guide my prayer. When I pray, let it always be with the proper motivation, rooted and grounded in love. Let me remember that every person longs for a love that never fails, and I am no exception. Through Your priceless love, I can have full confidence that when I call out with proper motivation, You will answer. You will be with me in my times of trouble. You will save me and honor me. For what is impossible with people is possible with You. In Jesus’ name, I pray. AMEN (See Ephesians 3:16-17; James 4:3; Luke 18:27; Proverbs 19:22a; and Psalms 91:15, NRSV)