14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.
(Ephesians 3:14-17a NIV)
The Apostle Paul restarts his prayer that he began in chapter 3 verse 1, after interrupting himself in verses 2 through 13.
Paul begins his prayer with “For this reason…” So what reason is he referring to? To find out, we have to put our detective hat on and follow the trail of evidence.
First, remember we said that verses 2 through 13 are Paul’s divine interruption, his digression for a few verses? So let’s set aside verses 2 through 13 for just a moment. Doing so will allow us to connect verses 1 and 14 as the start and continuation of Paul’s thoughts.
When we go back to verse 1, notice how Paul begins that sentence: “For this reason…” So when Paul uses this same phrase in verse 14, he is repeating himself, pickup up where he left off.
So now, following our trail of evidence, we must venture back into chapter 2 to find out what reason Paul is referring to.
In chapter 2, verses 11 through 22, Paul addresses the unity we have in Christ. No more divisions like Jew/Gentile, etc. Paul counts us all in Christ:
- v. 14 – Christ is our peace
- v. 14 – Christ has made the two groups (Jew & Gentile) one
- v. 15 – Christ created one new humanity, one group
- v. 18 – we all have access to God the Father through His Holy Spirit
- v. 19 – we are all fellow citizens with Christ
As we follow this trail of evidence, we see that Paul is referring to the unity we have as believers and followers of Christ.
What is Paul’s reason for referring back to this reason, to the unity we have in Christ?
Rolling back to chapter 3 verse 14, we hear Paul’s heart. He starts by humbly coming before the Lord in worship and thankfulness, both in heart attitude and position of body.
Paul says, “I kneel before the Father…”
Do we ever change the position of our body to reflect the attitude of our heart toward the Lord?
For me, sometimes how I present myself before God is more important that what I say or think. This does not make me more or less acceptable in the sight of God than anyone else; I am not any more holy than the next person. But what it does do is remind me that God is holy and righteous and loving, and is far greater than me. And the simplest way to reflect that is to bow at the foot of the cross to say “thank you” to Jesus.
Paul tells us the reason for his thankfulness, the reason he is kneeling. Paul is humbled and awed by the fact that we, as followers of Christ, are now one in Him, having been adopted into God’s family, and having a new identity, a new last name to tell the world whose we are, to Whom we belong.
Paul’s prayer, then, for the Ephesians (and us), is that we will be encouraged and strengthened and made one with Christ as part of His family, stepping into all that it means to be part of God’s household. Paul says that his prayer is that we would allow Christ to dwell in our hearts by faith, to not only have God’s name as our name, but to have His heart and be part of who He is in every aspect of our being.
May we both receive Paul’s prayer in our hearts, and reflect it to others as well today.