Today we’re continuing in the great prayer, right at the heart of this letter, in Chapter 3: 14-21. Again, I think it’s a beautiful thing that Paul doesn’t just tell us about the good news of Jesus. He’s not just giving us theological information, details about God. That’s what he’s doing through much of the first chunk of the letter, but now he prays us into the reality—the wonder of God’s love for us and presence with us, the beauty of God’s purposes. Prayer is how we move from our heads to our hearts. It’s how we let the reality of God’s good will for us get into every nook and cranny of our lives.
Our verse for today is verse 16, Paul says, “I pray that according to the riches of his glory, God may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit.” Let’s unpack that a bit.
Paul is praying strengthened with a kind of internal strength—that fortitude that is more than just physical power or presence. Can you think of someone with great internal strength—strength of spirit and heart? That’s the strength that we call on when things get tough. It’s the power do what needs to be done, for a significant purpose. We might call it intestinal fortitude. Paul wants us to be strengthened in our inner beings. That’s a good prayer!
But notice the source of that strength. It’s not about our best will and effort. It’s not about manifesting our desires, or digging deep into our own reserves. We might be able to do some of that. But Paul wants more for us. God wants more for us. Paul’s prayer is that we would be strengthened according to the riches of God’s glory.
Now, we could do a word study on God’s glory, that might tell us some interesting things (the word Paul uses here is doxa). But I want to remember that the whole point of this section of the letter is to move us from our heads to our hearts. So I want to invite you to take a couple of minutes and just let yourself sink into that image—the riches of God’s glory. What does that evoke? What does it mean to experience the riches of the glory—the wonder, the beauty, majesty of the One who made the heavens and the earth? Just sit for a minute and chew that image over. Let it move from an image, or an idea to a reality. Let your heart move towards the riches of God’s glory. Spend some time lingering in in this line from Paul’s prayer. It’s worth some meditation.
So, Paul’s prayer for us is that we’d be strengthened, not in proportion to our potential, but according to the riches of God’s glory—through God’s own Spirit. This strengthening glory is experienced in the presence of God’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit. That means that God’s glory is not off in some unimaginable heaven. God’s glory, and God’s strengthening power are closer to us than our next breath.
God’s glory and power are intimate with us. Strengthening us from the inside out; quickening our hearts, tuning our senses, heightening our capacity to see, to know, and to live and grow in the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These are the powerful ways in which we are made to grow, and thrive. These are the powerful things of God’s realm. These are the things that will flourish when God gets the world that God wants. These are the things coming to life in and through us, here and now.
May it be so.