For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” (Ephesians 3:14-17)
Getting The House in Order
A year and a half ago, my wife and I signed the mortgage on our house. It was very exciting because it meant we were now owners of a wonderful new home. But at the same time, we also knew that there was a considerable amount of work to be done to the aesthetics of the home in order to conform it to our preferences and way of life. We didn’t much care for the paint color, the backsplash in the kitchen, the lighting fixtures and so forth.
But since moving in, we’ve worked little by little to update certain things about the home (although there’s still much to be done). Unfortunately, because I’m not much of a “handy man,” these updates are often accomplished with much greater struggle than that of other husbands. But nonetheless, we’ve made a good deal of progress in the past year and a half. And as a result, the home has become a much more suitable living space for our growing family.
I start by sharing about our house because, in a lot of ways, it is a metaphor for how the Christian life works. In fact, concerning this metaphor, author and theologian D.A. Carson points out that when “people take up long-term residence somewhere, their presence eventually characterizes that dwelling.” Carson goes on to explain how when Jesus takes up residence in a new believer, that person’s life becomes more and more characterized by His presence:
[Jesus] sets about turning this residence into a place appropriate for him, a home in which he is comfortable. There will be a lot of cleaning to do, quite a few repairs, and some much-needed expansion. But his aim is clear: he wants to take up residence in our hearts, as we exercise faith in him.
Carson’s point is an important one. It explains why the apostle Peter referred to the church as God’s “spiritual house” (1 Pet. 2:5). After all, we are the new covenant residence of the Holy One—a chosen place for His presence to dwell. And through the life we now share together in Christ Jesus, He is making for Himself a dwelling that is fit for His glory and righteousness.
In other words, God has something in mind for His house. You might say He has a vision for it. And as He lives within us, He is conforming us to that vision through His power, which is now at work within us (Eph. 3:20; Col. 1:29).
According to The Riches Of His Glory
In Ephesians 3:14-17, the apostle Paul demonstrates that such power must be sought and received through prayer. After all, we don’t effortlessly drift into conformity to God’s vision for His house. It isn’t some kind of benign magic that materializes in spite of our carelessness and passivity. Rather, the church must intentionally position itself to receive Spiritual power by being united in the work of believing prayer. And knowing this, Paul supplies us with the vocabulary of such praying in order that we might pray along with Him; and in so doing, become a more suitable dwelling place for the Lord.
By considering these verses, you and I get to be a proverbial “fly on the wall” in Paul’s prayer closet. We get to listen in as the apostle invokes the entire Trinity in prayer. He asks God the Father to strengthen the church’s inner being through the power of God the Spirit in order that God the Son may dwell more gloriously within them through faith.
By bringing God’s triune nature and character into focus, Paul has patterned his praying after the Trinity’s work in the Christian life. You see, God the Father has poured out the Holy Spirit upon the church in order that the risen Christ might reside Spiritually in and among us to conform us to His glorious likeness (Jn. 14:26; 2 Co. 3:16-18; Mat. 28:20). That being the case, Paul’s prayer is one which God gladly answers “according to the riches of His glory.” Therefore we must pray along the same lines. D.A. Carson elaborates more on this:
It is far wiser to understand and believe that the God who has already so lavishly blessed us in his Son has no less lavish reserves of power to pour out on us as he brings us to Christian maturity. That is one reason why Paul petitions God for this transforming power: he is persuaded that the supply is as extensive as the benefits secured by Jesus Christ at Golgotha.
Let’s not hurry past that statement without considering its full significance. In dying for us, Jesus hasn’t only saved us from something; He has saved us to something—to a Spirit-filled life of experiencing the riches of God’s glory and power on a daily basis. And in order to be a suitable dwelling for the Lord, we must access more and more of these riches through the work of believing prayer—prayer that produces obedience and continued transformation in our lives. Here’s D.A. Carson again:
[Paul’s] petition, then, is a plea for power to be holy, power to think, act, and talk in ways utterly pleasing to Christ, power to strengthen moral resolve, power to walk in transparent gratitude to God, power to be humble, power to be discerning, power to be obedient and trusting, power to grow in conformity to Jesus Christ.
Do you believe prayer can have that kind of impact on your life? On your family? On LifePoint Church? Do you believe that, through prayer, God can transform lives and mobilize the church to be a Spirit-filled witness in our neighborhoods and among the nations? Do you believe that prayer can serve to trigger the revival we so desperately need today (2 Chr. 7:14)? Believe it or not, these things can come to fruition if we will only seek God’s power through prayer. And we have everything we need to begin doing that right now.
So as we gather this Lord’s Day, let us gather prayerfully, knowing full well what God can do through a church that will devote itself to the work of believing prayer. Each time we assemble to worship, God is getting His house in order. He is conforming LifePoint Church to His vision of a dwelling that is fit for His glory and righteousness. And He is doing it by His power. But make no mistake, we will never experience greater measures of that power without praying for it. So by faith, let’s be a church that asks again and again what the disciples asked two thousand years ago, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Lk. 11:1).