Prayer and fasting 21 days – Ephesians 3
God’s plan all along has been to bring together a community of people, so different in their backgrounds and what they are like, that when the spiritual powers look on they are amazed by God’s wisdom. The angels – and the fallen angels or demonic powers – will stand back, open mouthed when God’s children are revealed (unveiled, like a major public building or work of art: Romans 8:19). “How on Earth did God manage to do that?!”
The heart of the chapter is the prayer in verses 14 to the end. If we are going to co-operate with God in coming together as one, we need to know Christ’s love, which is “un-knowable.” We need to be filled with all His fulness.
Lord, we are amazed by Your wisdom and love. Please fill us not just as individuals but as a body with Your Spirit so that we might know You and be changed to become more like You.
As so often, Paul gets excited by the theme and trips up over the mechanics of writing a letter. The first verse starts by saying because of this (i.e. what we have read in chapter 2 about being joined together with God’s people into a house for Him by the Spirit) …. But he does not finish the sentence because he gives an excited summary of the gospel again, presenting it in a slightly different perspective. He sums it up in verses 9 and 10 as the plan God has always had – a plan to show His amazing wisdom to the spiritual forces through the church!
God could have simply announced or revealed His wisdom, but He wanted all along to work through His people. His plan since the creation has always been for a corporate expression of Himself. No one person could contain God, except Jesus, so He planned to have “many sons” (Heb 2:10) who are included in Christ and who together make up the people of God. Incidentally this includes “daughters” who would not have been entitled to inherit anything under Jewish law but who are now included in the people of God as equal partners and so are included as “sons.”
This explains why unity and reconciliation are such big issues for God. The theme of bringing together those who were far off and those who were near runs through all Paul’s letters but is perhaps clearest in Ephesians. If we are to communicate the wisdom of God then we need to be connected – in good alignment – so that the Spirit of God is able to build the house and fill the house.
It is nothing short of incredible that the infinite God would want to live in communities of limited and fallible human beings. But that is the plan! So it is not surprising that when Paul returns in verse 14 to the thought begun in verse 1, he turns to prayer. “For this reason..” or “Because of all this…” he prays that we might be strengthened with power in our inner being, so that Christ may live in our hearts through faith. It is as we trust Him and rely on Him that He fills us and enables us to be a people joined together so that we might “comprehend with all the saints” what seems to be un-knowable!
Paul describes what he is praying in words that start to break not only the rules of grammar and writing but the rules of logic – he prays that the Ephesians might know the love of Christ “that surpasses knowledge!” But that is what we need if we are going to be filled with all the fulness of the infinite God and so communicate the wisdom of God to spiritual powers.
No wonder Paul’s prayer turns into worship. When we start to understand what He is leading us into we can only fall on our knees – literally or in heart attitude – and worship Him. Note the emphasis on God’s power at work among us. We have to make choices, we have to work, but we work with His wisdom and His power if we trust Him and allow the Spirit to lead us. That is why there is glory in Christ and in the church – it is Christ being formed in us by the Spirit that causes us to change and bring glory to the Father.