This Week's Focus Passage: June 6, 2021: Ephesians 3:14ff. ‘For this cause I bow my knees unto the F
This Week’s Focus Passage: Ephesians 3:14ff.
‘For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father.’
It is very likely that it need not be said, that this wonderful prayer of Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, that was initially written “to the saints that are at Ephesus, and the faithful in Christ Jesus,” has equally been intended for those of us, in the church of Jesus Christ; saints and faithful through the grace of our heavenly Father. Yet, we delight to point out that blessed reality. When we read this magnificent prayer, then, do we embrace its message unto ourselves, and strive to make it our own, as it were? God forbid that we should ever be dismissive, in any way, regarding its content, because it is, and always shall be, the very Word of the living God. May we carefully and thoughtfully read it over again, and consider these realities. We will consider the body of the prayer itself, setting aside in any way at all, for the moment, the conclusion, or benediction, contained in those closing verses, 19-20.
For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, that ye may be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inward man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; to the end that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be strong to apprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye may be filled unto all the fullness of God.
There are, at least, four elements in this apostolic prayer. Now we believe that it is important that true prayer contain certain ‘features,’ we may call them, such as, beginning with praise, followed by penitence (confession), and not until after this praise and penitence, ought we to engage in petition. These ‘features,’ sometimes referred to as the three P’s of Prayer are often, and sadly, reduced to one; and that of petition; coming before the Great Giver of all things, to plead our wants and desires.
Petition should await the exercises of praise and penitence. This is what we may see Paul here doing. He begins with Praise—I bow my knees unto the Father—and closes with a benediction—now unto Him. There is ample room in the middle to cite all our petitions; our needs, our wants, and yes, our desires, for ourselves and others.
There is a relatively popular acrostic in the minds of many individuals in many churches; it has been around for years. It is purported to speak of the elements that ought to be found in our prayers unto our Father in heaven. Given a conspicuous aid to our memories, is the form of this acrostic; it is A.C.T.S. That is, of course, an obvious allusion to the book of Acts in the New Testament. We have no idea of the source of this acrostic, of its real or supposed ‘antiquity,’ but it is likely that it has been around a good deal of time, whatever might be, ‘a good deal of time.’ It does have conspicuous use as an aid to memory. This is definitely the value of acrostics.
In the case of the ACTS acrostic, it helps, or enables, us to remember the elements of Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. One writer has bemoaned the fact that, often, and “unfortunately, we spell our prayer life by S.C.A.T., because we start with supplication and spend very little time, if any, on adoration, confession, and thanksgiving.”—R. C. Sproul.
There is a much greater depth to be found in those elements contained in Paul’s prayer, of our focus passage, from Ephesians 3:14-19. And although we don’t consider it exhaustive, we enumerate them, to the number of four, as follows below:
That ye may be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inward man.
That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.
To the end that ye, (may be) being rooted and grounded in love, may be strong to apprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth….
(That ye may) know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye may be filled unto all the fullness of God.
Remember that these are the prayers of Paul for the church, ‘the saints that are at Ephesus, and the faithful in Christ Jesus. These petitions, then, are for the church of Jesus Christ; His body; His bride, and they are extremely relevant until the day that the Bridegroom returns to consummate His marriage at the supper of the Lamb. This pointedly involves, then, the members of the Body of Christ, being strengthened with power in the inward man. This in turn, relates marvelously, with the needful reality, that Christ dwell in your hearts through faith. Yea, the Body cries, Lord, increase our faith! It requires that this Body of Christ, His Bride, the Church, be rooted and grounded in love; this providing strength to apprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth of the love of Christ. What bride is there that does not need to know the love of the Bridegroom? And then, that she might know the love of Christ which passes knowledge, that she may be filled unto all the fullness of God. Paul has registered here an absolute marvelous prayer for the Bride.
And, surely, thanksgiving should always be included in our prayers. Indeed, Paul has reminded us, of this, in Philippians 4:6; which reads, In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus
While considering this gracious prayer of the apostle, our thoughts have navigated to the idea of model prayers. This, not surprisingly, directs our attention to what is commonly referred to as The Lord’s Prayer. This prayer is found in two different ‘versions’ in the gospel according to Matthew, Mt. 6:9-15, and the account of Luke, Lk 11:2-4. The Matthean account and the Lucan account are conspicuously similar, and yet, demonstrating certain differences. But this ‘Lord’s Prayer’ is, by all accounts, considered to be The Model Prayer. We confess some wonderment at the understanding of the, virtually all, writers, commentators, and others, that seem to automatically take the plea of ‘one of his disciples,’ when he said, Lord, teach us to pray, to actually say, Lord, teach us how to pray. An overwhelming majority of English translations have rendered our verse, Lord teach us to pray. Only a couple, and those, frankly, being more fairly considered paraphrastic, have offered, Lord, teach us how to pray, notably not even employing italics for the added word.
Not being much of a Greek scholar, it is with some diffidence that I take to myself, this question, but one who was a very well-known Greek scholar, a professor at the Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, which was found in 1859 in Greenville, SC, has provided his translation of the verse in question, which while admittedly being interpretive, seems quite reasonable. A. T. Robertson’s translation is Lord, teach us the habit of prayer. Remembering the consistent, habitual, fervent praying of our Lord Jesus Christ, demonstrated in the gospel accounts, this appears as, at the very least, reasonable. In point of fact, Luke informs us in 11:1, that when Jesus had ceased praying, was the time of the disciple’s petition. Is it not possible that this disciple, as well as the others, was duly impressed with the frequency and fervency of the Savior’s prayers, His marvelous habit of prayer? Luke has taken notice of our Savior’s praying often. Thus, at his baptism, (chap. iii. 21;) in the wilderness, (chap. v. 16;) before the appointment of the apostles, he continued all night in prayer, (chap. vi. 12;) he was alone praying, (chap. ix. 18;) his transfiguration also took place when he went up to pray (chap. ix. 28, 29;).” May we be stirred, if not inspired, though the example of Christ, and His apostle Paul, to give ourselves, much more diligently to serious and sincere prayer.
David Farmer, elder
Fellowship Bible Church
More in This Week's Focus Passage
February 4, 2023This Week’s Focus Passage: Exodus 14:13
January 28, 2023This Week’s Focus Passage: Psalm 27 ‘Jehovah is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear?’
January 21, 2023This Week’s Focus Passage: Matthew 10:3 ‘Thomas, Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, Th