In a basement vault on the outskirts of Paris sits a cylinder made from an alloy of Platinum and Iridium. It is the standard (or International Prototype) Kilogram weight1 against which many other measurements are made—so it has to be accurate. Spiritually, God is our standard and Paul starts his second prayer in the book of Ephesians by praying to the Father who defines fatherhood.
Addressing prayers to “Father” is not unusual since Jesus taught us about praying to the Lord as “Our Father.” But when people have their standards muddled, praying to the Father is hard. We get our first impression of a father as children, from our earthly fathers; they establish our standard. If our experience is negative because of their absence, abuse, or failure, it can be hard to believe that our heavenly Father is good and loves us.
We are all liable to struggle relating to God as Father because even the best fathers fall short of the heavenly model. It takes faith to lift our eyes from earthly imperfection to the One seated on the throne of heaven and accept Him as our standard. Paul begins his prayer in a position of humility, knelt before the heavenly Father. His words emphasize that God is the Father of fatherhoods, the “prototype” father.
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith . . .. (Eph. 3:14-17)
Paul introduces his prayer with the words, “For this reason . . . .” In order to follow his train of thought, we must look back through the letter to find the “reason.” Paul has been talking about how the Ephesian, non-Jewish church members were included in God’s eternal purposes.2 Jesus reconciled both Jews and Gentiles to God so that every believer, regardless of other affinities, is part of God’s household, a dwelling of God in the Spirit. Church is all about relationship. How appropriate that Paul should approach God as their Father, ask for the indwelling of Christ, and for glory in the church (Eph. 3:17, 21).
That is the thrust of his prayer for this church, snatched from the grip of paganism. Paul appeals to God’s riches of glory and Spirit-imparted power to strengthen the church so that Christ would dwell in their hearts by faith. Church is more than a building or a few meetings; it is life-sharing family. Brothers and sisters of diverse backgrounds are united by One, perfect, loving Father.
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