"I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory. For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us," Ephesians 3:13-20
It is hard to find a richer portion of Scripture in all the Bible than these verses we are examining today. The Great Apostle talks about the relationship between God's love and your life, God's strength and your suffering, and your prayers and His power.
My biggest struggle is knowing where to begin.
Let me approach it from these three perspectives: the reason for prayer, the resource of prayer, and the reassurance from prayer.
First, Paul touches on the reason for prayer - suffering. Paul was concerned that the Ephesian Christians would be worn down by their concern for him and the suffering he was experiencing. It is hard to watch people we care about suffer and not be able to do anything about it. In those days, Christians everywhere were either suffering or living under the threat of suffering. So, it was not that they didn't have their own problems. But he was their spiritual father and mentor and he was stuck in a filthy Roman prison shackled to Roman guards.
Suffering wears you out. Prayer strengthens you. So a primary reason for prayer is to find strength in suffering through prayer.
Second, Paul reminds us that prayer is a resource. It is a resource because it connects us with our Source and our source is God! It is a resource because it is a relationship with the God of the universe. The relationship is love! God's love IS our resource! It strengthens us. It sustains us because it is a wide, deep, high, and long love! His love enstablishes us on a firm foundation. When we receive the love of God we receive His strength to endure suffering.
Third, Paul boldly proclaims his belief that prayer reassures us God is always doing more than we know in ways that we can't imagine. We can believe in God's love and we can receive it, but even then we cannot conceive all that He is doing while you praying. So, here is the reassurance - if you are praying He is working! And if He is working He is doing "exceedingly abundantly more than we can ask or think!"
Life is hard. Suffering is overwhelming. Life and suffering get bigger than we are. But when they seem bigger than us - pray! Because prayer assures us that God is bigger than life and he is doing bigger things than we can know, prayer strengthens us!
Are you facing big struggles? Do you need a big God?
I have some big news for you! If suffering is your reason to prayer, prayer is a resource that connects you in relationship to a God Who makes "all things work together for good"!
If you are praying - He is working!