“I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit.”
Billy Graham said that if you gave him a person’s checkbook for five minutes, he could tell where that person’s heart was. I think Rev. Graham was right. But you might also be able to know as much or more about a person by looking at his/her prayer list.
You can learn so much about the apostle Paul by looking at his prayer list. As I look at his list, I am first struck by what is missing. There is no prayer that he gets out of prison or that the Ephesians escape persecution. There is no prayer that life gets easier or that Ephesians’ finances prosper.
Significantly, Paul begins praying to ask that the heavenly Father “may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being.” The rich capital city of Ephesus was just as obsessed with the outer being as we are today. They, too, cared for good looks, good health, and fitness. But as all of life proceeds from the inside out (Matthew 15:18), Paul emphasizes the inner person. He knows that “the LORD looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
In praying for the “inner being” (Greek: eso anthropos), Paul is noticeably praying for the unseen self as distinguished from the visible outer body. The “inner being” is that which by the new birth of the Spirit is the “new creation in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17). The inner being is our true self in contrast to our old sinful nature. In another passage, Paul says of the inner being: “We do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature (Greek: eso anthropos) is being renewed every day” (2 Corinthians 4:16). Thus, Paul’s readers need never be discouraged or lose heart by their troubles or trials.
Notice that Paul asks that God “grant” this strengthening in the inner being. The strengthening comes simply in response to our asking. It is something granted by grace and not earned.
Asking God to strengthen us in our inner being requires turning from the sufficiency of self. It means repenting of the ego as we learn with Paul, “it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). Our capacity for receiving the strengthening of God’s Spirit will increase more and more until we are “filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19). We cannot get the ocean into our thimble, but we can put the thimble into the ocean.
THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
“We can see why a triune God would call us to converse with Him, to know and relate to Him. It is because He wants to share the joy He has. Prayer is our way of entering into the happiness of God Himself.” Tim Keller