#ReimagineSCRIPTURE...as you pray Ephesians 3:14-21
Prayer for a Life of Spiritual Growth not Just Trivial Pursuit
Doug Metzger, semi-retired Pastor/ NAMB staff living in GA.
Most all of us have probably played the game Trivial Pursuit. It’s a fun game if you know your
trivia. The word trivia & trivial are interesting words. They both carry the idea of meaningless or
unimportant facts. So when you play the game Trivial Pursuit & do well, it means that you know
a whole lot of meaningless, unimportant facts.
Maybe so, but I think it means your pretty smart on a whole lot of topics. On the other hand,
trivial pursuit may make you guilty of pursuing a whole lot of meaningless, unimportant info
that is really worthless. In reading the “Our Daily Bread” devotional one morning, I came across
something that really got my attention written by Dave Roper. A number of years ago I was in
the library of a prestigious university. As I walked among the bookshelves, I happened to pass by
a row of small cubicles set aside for study and I spied a student there reading a Bugs Bunny
comic book. I almost laughed out loud. Here was a young man surrounded by the wisdom of the
ages yet immersed in childish trivia in this prestigious university’s library. There’s nothing wrong
with comic books, and all of us need some necessary respite from study, but some of us never
get past trivial pursuits.” What this story shows is the height of a meaningless pursuit of trivia
when there was a whole lot better pursuit to be going after than what’s found in Bugs Bunny
I fear we can do this with many of our meaningless pursuits in life. I shared a message recently
about the need for believers to grow up and one of the things I challenged you to do that
morning was to develop a routine of daily Bible reading and prayer in what is called a quiet time
experience. In the matter of prayer, I said we should prioritize offering praise and thanksgiving
to God in our prayers, then offering supplication and intercession. Do you know who one of the
people we should be interceding for is? Ourselves.
I was introduced to a Prayer Guide in Seminary: The 2959 Prayer Plan by Peter Lord. It calls for
praying Ephesians 3 on Thursdays for others and I started listing people. One day I became
convicted that for far too long I had prayed this for others without really understanding the
magnitude of it for me. It was then that I started praying it for myself daily; now for years. If you
are a believer, you matter to God and He wants His best for you. How do you get there?
I believe that the Apostle Paul has much to teach at this point through this prayer that he
prayed for the growing believers in the city of Ephesus. As you look at Paul’s prayer in
Ephesians 3, you see Paul yearning for believers to not fall short of knowing the life of blessing
described in Ephesians 1:3 and godliness as described in 2 Peter 1:3.
For certain, trivial pursuit will not get you where these two verses point you. So Paul earnestly
prays for the Ephesians to live more than a life of trivial pursuit. He longs for them to know and
experience a growing life and knowing a meaning to life that God longs for them to know.
I want to unpack this amazing prayer and see if we can learn some things that might make this
prayer something that you personally make a pursuit for yourself and others that you pray for.
Let’s seek to grasp this prayer with God’s help with a desire that it might revolutionize our lives
and our walk with Him so that our lives are growing and more than trivial pursuit.
NOTE that Paul begins by telling them to whom he offers his prayer in verses 14-15. Thereafter,
the prayer is framed in such a way that it’s like going up a staircase to the penthouse of
blessing. There are 4 phrases that define each step up the stairs
1. Prayer for the Empowerment of the Holy Spirit in the Inner Man
Ephesians 3: 16. Interestingly, this is Paul’s 2 nd prayer in Ephesians chapters 1-3. The 1 st prayer
is in Ephesians 1:15-19 and it’s for spiritual enlightenment. Would you agree that spiritual
enlightenment is a wonderful thing?
I led an old shipmate from 1965-1967 to the Lord over the phone one day on my way home
from NAMB to my home in Roswell, GA. I called to check on him the following week. Jim
reported going to church on Sunday and for 1 st time the Pastor’s message meant something to
him (i.e. a light went on). This fulfills 1 Cor. 2: 14 about the natural man not understanding.
From that point on Jim could go on to greater enlightenment relative to Paul’s 1 st prayer.
But enlightenment only gets us part way along our journey, so Paul now prays for divine
empowerment. Such comes from the power of the indwelling Spirit of God. ASK: Have you
really grasped the power resident in us? Think about it: You have omnipotence residing in
impotence! The Power of creation resides in one of the creatures He created. Mind boggling,
but it’s what’s transpired. And here Paul prays that this created being be strengthened with
power through this Spirit in the inner being. Power is the Greek word “dunamos” from which
we get the word dynamite: so literally we be strengthened with dynamite. Strong calls it
“miraculous power.” And Paul’s prayer is that we’d be so empowered according to His glorious
riches…. Note: Not out of but according to.
If a Billionaire gives someone $5, it would be out of his riches, but if he gives a million, it would
be according to. There’s a vast difference and Paul wants God to give according to not just out
of! When Paul speaks of this occurring in inner man, he’s speaking about where the real you is
found. You look at me today and view what you think is the real me, but you’re only seeing a
deteriorating outer me. It’s a me that’ll not get me out of this world alive. The real me is the
inner man with which I relate to God and through which I can relate God to the world. It’s the
part of me that’s going to outlive this world and is going to enable me to eternally enjoy the
presence of God. And when I’m knowing this power for which Paul prays, what a difference I’ll
be knowing in how I relate to Him. And what a difference it’ll make in empowering me to live
and serve at a higher level in bringing glory to God. It’s so amazing and exciting the difference
this power makes. So, let’s not fail to take full advantage of this blessing from God through the
Holy Spirit’s empowerment. If you’re not knowing this power, then you need to personalize
Paul’s prayer for yourself.
2. Prayer for Christ To Be at Home in Our Hearts
Ephesians 3: 17a. BTW, note the words “so that”. This points to the result of having climbed the
1 st step on the way to the penthouse. Now we’re on 2 nd step. I hope we know enough of God’s
word to have a little problem with how Paul phrased his words. Why so? Reality is that at the
moment we prayed in faith to receive Christ, He did come to indwell us and promised He’d
never leave or forsake us. So then for what could Paul be praying here? The Greek construction
here really goes beyond mere indwelling. It speaks to Christ being at home inside His believing
All of us have visited in homes where we just didn’t feel 100% welcomed and were happy to
leave when the time came! Then there were times when we stayed and didn’t want to leave.
WHY? We were made to feel like royalty. We had the red-carpet treatment. Well, that’s what
Paul is praying for here in V. 17: that Christ would be given such royal treatment that He feels
absolutely at home. And considering Who He is, we should do all we can for that do be the case.
Unfortunately, if we aren’t careful, we fail to treat the indwelling Christ as a Royal Resident.
Christ needs to become the Resident President in our hearts.
Early in my Christian life, I was given a booklet that so well put this into perspective. It was My
Heart- Christ’s Home by Robert Boyd Munger. He speaks of every room in one’s heart being one
where Christ wants to dwell without any hesitancy or reservation. Why? Because He finds no
clutter/ hidden sin/ misplaced priorities, etc. And yet we tend to be self-centered and selfish
and saying to God: you can have this area, Lord, but not that Lord. We treat Him as a resident,
but not the president that He deserves to be.
Someone said that in some people Christ is resident, in others He is prominent, but in too few is
He pre-eminent and the latter is what Paul’s praying for; i.e. making Christ the foremost person
that lives in our life. We must take seriously this part of the prayer and desire Christ to be at
home in are hearts. If He’s not, truly our life and walk is being trivialized.
3. Prayer For The Apprehension of the Divine Love of God
Ephesians 3: 17b-19a. Note verse 17b also begins with a statement that builds on what has
been previously said which in effect takes us one step further up the stairway. Here Paul speaks
to an issue to which we all need to give greater consideration. He prays that we be rooted and
grounded in love and be may be able to grasp the total measure of this love.
Consider the terms rooted and grounded. They’re interesting terms placed side by; they are
called a mixed metaphors. If I said to a person”You scored a great touchdown, but that slam
dunk was off the chart good”, I’ve spoken a mixed metaphor. I’ve mixed a football and
basketball term. Well here Paul mixes an agricultural and an architectural term. 1 st , we’re to
become more and more deeply rooted in the love of God as we allow our spiritual roots to dig
deep into this love with which we have been loved. But also, we’re to build our lives on the
solid foundation of this great love. Spiritual agricultural and architectural analogies.
This 2nd metaphor pictures for me what’s done in CA in order to build multi-story buildings
under the threat of earthquakes. The higher you want to build, the deeper you make the
foundation. The same is true for a believer’s life. Both terms picture going deeper and deeper
into this love relationship we are to have with our Lord. But the real heart of this part of the
prayer is for us to go deeper and deeper into the 4-dimensional love of God. We’re to grasp or
apprehend this vast love of God. To apprehend is literally means to lay hold on something with
a strong grasp; the idea being to experience it. Relating this to the text, Paul’s calling for more
than a head knowledge about the love of God. He is calling for us to apprehend it in way that it
becomes experiential, i.e. we really, really know it! We know it’s width, length, height and
depth. I appreciate the way John Stott put it: “God’s love is broad enough to encompass both
Jew and Gentile; it’s long enough to last for an eternity; it’s deep enough to reach the lowest
sinner and high enough to exalt the Lord in heaven.”
These are the 4 dimensions of love that we’re to seek to apprehend but put on your seat-belt
for Paul now unveils a 5 th dimension. He says in verse 19a that this love is beyond knowledge or
surpasses knowledge. Just when you think you’ve figured it out, boom, another aspect of the
greatness of this love comes into your life. You know why I believe we ought to appreciate this
5 th dimension of God’s love? It means that with great excitement, you can look forward to what
God is next going to do in your life out of His love. Are you seeking to go deeper in your
experience of love with God? Make it a matter of serious prayer as does Paul. Let’s consider the
final rung on the ladder that leads to God’s Penthouse of Blessings.
4 Prayer For the Full Measure of the Fulness Of God
Ephesians 4:19. Note that this phrase starts with another “that” evidencing the progression.
This too has an interesting aspect to it in that at the moment of salvation we received all of
Christ we’re ever going to get. Colossians 2:9-10 reminds us that we are complete in Him. So
how can Paul now be telling us to take on what we already have on? It’s a call for us to move
from what we have Positionally to what we are to appropriate Experientially. We’re talking
here about not just knowing the presence of God in our life but experiencing it in ways in
which it will show.
And how will it show itself? In a growing level of love for God; in a more obvious demonstration
of obedience to His Word; in a deeper level of service in His Kingdom and in a richer worship of
Him in our daily life. It will also be seen in the bearing of the fruit of the Spirit in our lives: love,
joy, peace, etc…. It’ll begin fully showing in our character, attitudes and actions. No little dab
How would this all be possible one might ask? From our standpoint, it’s not possible, but from
God’s vantage point, it’s very possible captured for us in verses 20-21. Where you and I would
fall on our faces, God is able. He has the Power to make it happen and it begins with us getting
serious about prayer and being unafraid to approach Him to ask Him to do what only He can do.
Will you? In closing let me encourage you to consider making the following sample prayer part
of your growing experience as a believer:
Holy Spirit, by your power would you strengthen me with your might in my inner being; and,
Lord Jesus, I desire to have you sit on the throne of my life and be at home in my heart; Heavenly
Father, help me more deeply to grasp the vastness of your love all to the end that I would be full
of your fullness as I love you more, obey your better, serve you more devotedly and worship you
more richly. Please produce your fruit in my life. I ask this all in Jesus Name.