A Prayer for Spiritual Growth
Rev. Dr. Ernest Brodie Jr.
It is possible to know a great deal about the Bible: its doctrines, history, biblical interpretations, moral truths, prophecies, promises, and yet not know God. In Ephesians 3:14-21, the Apostle Paul prays that the Ephesian believers would genuinely experience and know God first hand. It is not until we walk with God through the valleys and mountains of life that we truly gain an understanding of Him. The Word of God comes alive as we experience His daily presence. Paul prays that God would add this depth to the faith of the Ephesian believers.
Salvation through Grace (Ephesians 3:14-15)
Because of salvation by grace, I am humbled before the Father of our master, Jesus, the Anointed One (verse 14). Because of this grace, the whole family on earth and in heaven is being named (verse 15). Salvation is a work of God's grace alone. It is not a work of man. Many religions claim to offer salvation. However there are rules, regulations, requirements that must be followed to be saved. Some religions require you to attend church, submit to circumcision, attend religious classes, be baptized, take communion, or make public declarations. Yet consider the thief on the cross in Luke 23:39-43. He repented of his sins and turned to Jesus for salvation. Christ told him, “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” No baptism. No church attendance. No good deeds. No secret protective garments. Just salvation by grace! This grace caused the Apostle Paul to humbly fall to his knees in thanksgiving to God.
Growth through Experience (Ephesians 3:16-18)
That God may give you according to the riches of His glory, the ability to be made strong through the Spirit of God within (verse 16)—Strength. That Christ may dwell in your heart through faith and that you will be rooted and grounded in love (verse 17)—Love. Being strong to grasp with all holy people what is the breadth, length, depth, and height of Christ’s love (verse 18)—Spiritual Growth.
Life is full of heartaches and hardships. It is often in the midst of these trials that we grow in our experiential knowledge of God. God could have taken us home to heaven at the moment of salvation; however, while here on earth we gain an opportunity to see His grace in action and are able to testify of His glory. Paul's prayer for the Ephesian believers was for strength, love, and spiritual growth. We may pray for the Lord to get us out of our hardships, but He may want us to gain strength, love, and spiritual growth through them.
--The breadth - The world and whosoever. John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Romans 10:13: “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
--The length - Eternal life. John 3:15: “That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
--The depth - He carries all our burdens and keeps us. Matthew 11:27-29: “ All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”Romans 8:38-39: “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
--The height - We have become new and have a future home in heaven. 2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:1-2: “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: in heaven.” Ephesians 1:2-4:“Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.”
Stability through Love (Ephesians 3:19-21)
To know the transcending love of Christ that you may comprehend the filling of God (verse 19). Being able to do extravagantly over and above what we are requesting or considering according to the ability of the one acting in us (verse 20). To God be glory in the church in Christ Jesus unto all generation for ages to come. Our purpose is to glorify God (verse 21). God transforms us and shows us that love is a commitment. See 1 Corinthians 13 and Proverbs 10:12.
We all look for quick spiritual growth, but it comes only by living for the Lord on a daily basis. Spiritual depth does not come overnight. Meeting God takes minutes. Knowing God takes a lifetime.