The Apostle Paul’s prayers put our to shame. what was his secret?


Now, That’s a Prayer!

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The Precious from the Worthless

The apostle Paul had learned to extract the precious from the worthless and bring it to light. This is especially true in his prayers. They get right to the heart of the matter and set the standard for all of us. His great prayer in Ephesians 3:14-21 is a case in point. Before we dig into it, take a minute and think about your own prayers. What are they like? What do you pray about? Where is your focus most of the time?

Most Common Prayers

Open up your church service to a time of prayer and what do you typically hear? Over 90% of the prayers offered will be for the healing of someone who is sick or going through a tough time. We seem to think that God’s goal for us is that we be happy and healthy. While it’s true that God doesn’t want us to be sad and sick, his ultimate goal for us is holiness, not happiness, and He will use all kinds of discomfort and pain to purge from us everything that stands in the way of our being conformed to the image of Christ.

A Higher Level

Paul’s prayers are on a much higher level. They deal with issues that will have permanent and extraordinary results. As we look at his magnificent prayer from Ephesians 3, it would be helpful to picture the three basic parts of all humans- seen as three concentric circles. The inner circle is the spirit, representing the “inner man.” The next is the soul, which represents the “outer man. The outer circle is the body, referred to as the outermost man.

 The Prayer

 For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man; so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.


Because of the awesome privilege Paul had been given of revealing the mystery that the salvation God had offered to the Jews was being made available to the Gentiles, Paul begs his readers to fully receive this amazing grace God was pouring out on all mankind in all its fullness. The ordinary Jewish attitude of prayer was standing, with the hands stretched out and the palms upwards. Paul’s prayer for the Church is so intense that he prostrates himself before God in an agony of entreaty.

 To Strengthen our Spirits

He is praying that God, out of the matchless riches that accompany His glory, would, by the Holy Spirit, strengthen our spirits (inner man). Christ would then feel so “at home” (in our spirit) that he would take up permanent residency. There would be no more grieving and quenching the Holy Spirit. Our part in this is just like it was with salvation—we appropriate this graciousness of God by faith. Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him (Col. 2:6). Once Christ feels completely at home, and our spirits are strengthened, the love of Christ within us will take root and start to bear fruit.

 Now We See It

 When this happens, every saint, without exception, will be able to finally recognize and understand the things that were too wonderful for us to understand. Once we have grasped these wonderful gifts of God’s grace, Christ love for us will have so “rubbed off” on us that we will start living it out. People will start seeing Christ in us instead of us. Once we have removed all the barriers that have prevented Christ’s love from being poured into us, God will fill us to overflowing with all that He is. Then we will not be able to contain it all. What overflows from us will be absorbed by those around us.

 Paul’s Double Privilege

Paul saw himself as a man who had been given a double privilege. He had been given the privilege of discovering the secret that it was God’s will that all men should be gathered into his love. He had been given the additional privilege of making this secret known to the Church and of being the instrument by which God’s grace went out to the Gentiles.

Paul’s Humility

But that consciousness of privilege did not make Paul proud; it made him intensely humble. He was amazed that this great privilege had been given to him. He saw himself  as less than the least of God’s people. Since God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6), Paul wants his readers to experience the same overflow of God’s grace. He wants them (and us) to realize that when the barriers (found in the outer man) are removed, God will give Himself to us in such abundance that we will be unable to contain it all. God’s ultimate goal was that these blessings would be enjoyed by both Jews and Gentiles (believing), living in a oneness that will make God feel at home and will cause the world to take notice.

Now, that’s a prayer!



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