Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Pastoral Pings ~ When Weakness Makes us Strong

          I am in day two of a miserable cold. The nights have felt exceptionally long, and the daytimes have dragged by. I have not been able to wrap my brain around God’s word enough to have my morning time with God, and much less energy to try to share anything via my blog.
          What I keep returning to these two days is what God spoke so clearly about on Sunday morning. The cold had not hit until Sunday afternoon, so our home church was able to have a wonderful time of sharing in God’s word. One line of the Scripture we explored has ministered to my heart even while everything else is running far below regular capacity.
          The verse in question is Paul’s central request in his prayer for the Ephesian church.[1]He prayed, “that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being…”[2]
          What my soul rests in is that Paul’s expectant prayer was based on “the riches of his glory,” not the strength of his enemies, or the demoralizing power of his circumstances, or the weaknesses of anyone in the church, or the confusion of anything going on with him or anyone else. When he prayed, he prayed “according to” the immensity of the riches of God’s glory. This captivates me to consider how my praying will dramatically change/improve as I base all my prayers on the riches of God’s glory. It feels wonderfully hopeful.
          Next, Paul turns attention on what “he may grant you.” Paul could not go and do anything for the Ephesian church. He described how he felt about the churches he could not be with when he told the Corinthians how, “apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.”[3]How did he handle this anxiety for the churches? He looked to what God would grant them through prayer.[4]
          Then Paul strung together an amazing tapestry of requests. He wanted God to grant to the church “to be strengthened.” He was not telling them to be strong in themselves, but sought what God would grant them for their strength.
          He clarified that the strengthening he prayed for was not the strength of purpose, or determination, or motivation, but asking God to strengthen the church “with power.” Why pray for the people to do something themselves when Paul’s eye was on the glorious riches of God and what God could grant them out of those riches of glory? Instead, he prayed that God would supply the power that would fill the church with strength.
          The way that the church would experience power from God giving them strength was “through his Spirit.” There was no thought of an impersonal force getting the church plugged-in for Jesus. This was about strength coming from power that filled the church through the abiding presence of the Spirit. Did I say this sounds hopeful?
          Then there is one more golden thread that weaves this tapestry of intercession into its glorious example to the church. Paul’s prayer was not for external strength. He was not asking God to find the champion within us and unleash us on an unsuspecting world. He was praying that God’s strength would come through God’s power, expressed through the Holy Spirit, in the very “inner being” of the believers, where they were “poor in spirit.” [5]
          It is no wonder that Paul testified of God’s word to him, “’My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”[6]
          Paul taught us how he prayed, so we would follow his example.[7]When we face our weakness, we do not remain weak. We become the meek who so hunger and thirst for the righteousness of God’s presence,[8] that we will pray for what he can do in the innermost part of our being, not what we can do in all kinds of religious good works and activities.
          So, it is time to rest my head. I was thankful to have the strength to share this. Perhaps it was the way I was praying the last two miserable days. I am sure there is much more ahead as I stay focused on praying the way Paul prayed.

© 2015 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Ephesians 3:14-19
[2] Ephesians 3:16
[3] II Corinthians 11:28
[4] Paul obviously followed his own teaching of Philippians 4:4-7
[5] Matthew 5:3
[6] II Corinthians 12:9
[7] I Corinthians 11:1
[8] Matthew 5:3-6

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