Praying for Power

Praying for Power

W. F. Naismith

Scripture Reading: Ephesians 1:15-23

The epistle to the Ephesians, because of its lofty teaching, has been designated “The Alps of Holy Scripture.” Before any reference is made to redemption or the forgiveness of sins, the Apostle declares that the believer has been blessed “with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (1:3).
The Christian is seen “Far far above this restless world that wars below.”

Certain important references to the “will of God” are made in the opening chapter of this epistle. The first reference makes mention of “the good pleasure of His will” (1:5), and in it God’s will is associated with His purpose in having us as sons with Him the Father. The second reference alludes to “the mystery of His will,” and in this the divine will is connected with the gathering together in one all things in Christ. By the last reference emphasis is laid on “the counsel of His will,” and the great objective of His predestining grace, the inheritance that is ours in Christ, is brought into view.

The Apostle’s thesis in this epistle is so monumental and majestic that it makes the sensual corruption associated with the gorgeous temple of Diana of the Ephesians not only infamous but vile.

There are two prayers by the Apostle Paul recorded in this letter. The first is found in chapter one and the second in chapter three. The former is addressed to the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the latter to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In chapter one and verse four, we are reminded that “He has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world.” This election, as it will be noticed, is particularly associated with the name, “God.” The next verse affirms that we are predestinated to sonship, and this act is connected with the name, “Father.”

Faith and love were salient features in the lives of the Ephesian saints, and these qualities the Apostle commends. These particular believers possessed a place in the heart of the Apostle so he invokes a divine blessing upon them.

The Prayer

As by many other prayers recorded throughout the Word of God, by the outline of this one much precious teaching is unfolded.

The first prayer of the epistle, addressed as it is to the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, brings into relief the Lord Jesus Christ as the glorified Man, and lays emphasis on the nature of God. The thought of power is also developed, for Christ is given the place of universal headship, “Head over all things.” This corresponds with what He said before He ascended on high, “All power is given unto Me in Heaven and in Earth” (Matt. 28:18). In like manner this prayer gives us a deep apprehension of the standing we have before God. The effect of the prayer would be to cause that, from its elevation, we look down on that vast scene which God has placed under His Son. Experientially, are we in such high altitudes from whence we may look down?

The Petitions

To understand the threefold desire in this prayer, it is necessary to notice the occurences of the word “what.” Paul’s general desire for the saints here is that they might have the spirit of wisdom. The spirit of wisdom is that inward desire to gradually and continuously develop in this rare quality, wisdom. Christ is wisdom personified, “Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” The spirit of wisdom and revelation was desired that they might have spiritual insight into the three requests of the prayer.

The first occurence of the word “what”: “That ye may know what is the hope of His calling.” We have been called into the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord (1 Cor. 1:9). This calling is holy in character (2 Tim. 1:9), and high in destiny (Phil. 3:14). The predominant thought in the Christian’s calling is that of grace. Grace enables us to enjoy all that the “hope of His calling” means.

The second occurence of the word “what” is linked with the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints. Note the words “riches,” “glory,” and “inheritance.” “Riches” suggest a wealth that cannot be estimated; they are divinely bestowed, but not in material values. “Glory” baffles the mind; it is the doxology of Eternity from whence its rays are diffused to scenes of time. By them we are given a foretaste of our portion for ever and ever. “He is bringing many sons unto glory.”

In the Old Testament Israel was designated God’s inheritance; believers today are called “heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ Jesus.” God inherits what is His and He puts His people in the enjoyment of it. Yea, He takes the inheritance even in His saints. The thought emphasized in the inheritance is that of glory.

The third occurence of the word “what” introduces us to the “exceeding greatness of His power to usward who believe.” The word “exceeding” is the word from which we derive the word “hyperbole” which means exaggeration. There is exaggeration in the fact of His power; it far surpasses anything known to created intelligence. The word “greatness” is found only here in the New Testament. If the word “exceeding” conveys the idea of far-surpassing, it would lay emphasis on the illimitable resources which belong to God.

The word “power” denotes His ability. It is a word from which the word “dynamics” has been derived. The power of God puts into effect all His divine counsels. It is alluded to in the present tense for it is “to usward who believe.” There is no limit to what we might accomplish if we realized the power of God is willing to bestow the power that was manifested at the resurrection of Christ. The glory of the Father was at stake if Christ remained in the tomb beyond the appointed time. On the third, the appointed day He was raised from the dead. The resurrection of Christ is the exclusive act of an omnipotent God. Christ said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19). These are not contradictory but complementary statements.

The full manifestation of this power is seen in the resurrection and ascension of Christ to the highest place in the Universe, “Far above all.” The position He now occupies is that of “Head over all things to the Church which is His Body.” Supremacy belongs to the once lowly Nazarene. “He fills the throne, the throne above, and fills it without wrong.”