I do not believe in using Mosaic Theology, which means taking many bits of scripture and combining them together into a picture God never revealed (usually contradicting God’s revealed word). However, I do believe that God’s book interprets itself, so there are many times when our understanding of one piece of revelation increases as we shine it through the lens of another passage of scripture.
This happened for me this morning. A couple of passages I had already been meditating upon came together with a third scripture in a way that called for a strong and faith-filled response. I believe this bigger picture is consistent with what is said in each of the three parts.
Praying according to the riches of God’s glory
The first passage that has been my focus for a couple of weeks is a central part of Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3:14-21. The way Paul prayed, and the things he prayed for, where, “according to the riches of his glory.”If all my praying is according to the riches of God’s glory, instead of according to anything I see with my eyes, believe with my mind, or feel in my soul, the things I ask for will be impossibly bigger than me. God is still able to do “far more abundantly than all that we ask or think,”  so, when I pray based on the riches of God’s glory, I will pray for things my sarky self cannot even imagine.
When I consider what we pray for according to the riches of God’s glory, I discover that Paul’s praying focused on these things: strength, our inner being, heart fellowship with Christ, and both the comprehension and experience of the love of Christ.
This means that, if we are going to pray that God “may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit,” and we ask for this strength according to the riches of God’s glory, we are going to ask for strength we cannot even imagine in ourselves. We are going to ask for strength in the church that so many negative experiences would argue against, because our prayers are not according to experience, but according to the riches of God’s glory.
When we pray according to the riches of God’s glory, our prayers for strength “in your inner being” will not be in support of all the wrong beliefs and self-protection we see inside. Instead, we will pray that every promise for peace, rest, and freedom, in our Lord Jesus Christ will be fulfilled in our innermost being no matter how many layers of sin and self-protection must be blown to smithereens in the process.
When we pray according to the riches of God’s glory “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith,”we ask God for the experience of fellowship with Jesus Christ in our hearts that far surpasses any experience of superficial fellowship we have ever known. We will pray for the faith that believes God for every description of fellowship with Jesus Christ, and keep praying according to the riches of God’s glory in giving us this heart-experience of Christ.
When we pray that we “may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth” of “the love of Christ,” and that we would “know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge,”we do not pray God-limiting prayers based on heartbreaking experiences. Rather, we look at the riches of God’s glory in loving us, and pray accordingly. We ask for the fullest possible experience of the love of Christ, both in comprehending its infinite and eternal immensity, and in knowing this love personally in a way that far surpasses the limitations of knowledge.
Praying out of the mercy and grace of God
Since it is Paul who told the Ephesian Church what he was praying for them, I found it particularly helpful what he said in his testimony. His initial experience of God was, “I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” From the very beginning of Paul’s relationship with God, everything was about “mercy” and “grace.”
Mercy is withholding from us the judgment we deserve. When Paul referred to his past life of sin, he called himself, “the foremost” of sinners.He described himself as, “a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent.” When he discovered God’s hand upon him to save him from his sin, and then appoint him as an apostle in leadership of the church, he could see how God’s mercy withheld from him the incredible judgment he deserved.
Grace is giving us blessing we do not deserve. Paul did not deserve to be saved. He did not deserve to be an apostle. He did not deserve to lead the church he had persecuted, or bear the name of the one he had blasphemed, or walk in fellowship with the Savior he had opposed. Nothing he had was deserved.
When I connect these two things, that Paul’s whole life was about mercy and grace, and when he prayed it was according to the riches of God’s glory, I can see how prayer rises up to expect things from the riches of God’s glory for the very reason that we are not going to pray according to what we deserve, and we are not going to pray according to what we don’t deserve. God’s mercy calls us to look at the riches of God’s glory and pray in direct contradiction of whatever our sins and trespasses deserve, and God’s grace calls us to look up at the riches of God’s glory and pray for wonderful things we could never deserve.
God’s mercy and grace are already according to the riches of his glory, so they add to the witnesses that encourage us to pray according to these riches, and to hold nothing back in our praying because we think we deserve less, or we can’t believe we could have more. The measure is the riches of God’s glory, and anyone who has felt the mercy and grace of God will pray accordingly.
The armor of God that answers our prayers for strength
When we pray “to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,”along with all the corresponding requests for the inner-being experience of fellowship with Christ, immersed in the comprehension and experience of his love, we discover that God has a gift that comes out of the riches of his glory. It is called, “the whole armor of God.”
It is no accident that Paul’s teaching on the whole armor of God comes at the end of his letter in which he has prayed for the church “according to the riches of his glory.” The church is the “one new man” that is also “a holy temple in the Lord… being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”When Paul prayed for the church, he was praying for them as one body of believers, a group of people in which God lived by his Spirit.
Paul also knew that the church was already under immense assault from false teachers presenting a different Jesus, and a different gospel. He knew that the world was inviting believers back to the pleasures of sin. And he knew that the arch enemy of the church, “that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world,” was unrelenting in his work to “steal and kill and destroy.”
In view of all this, both our identity as the church in Jesus Christ, and the constant attack of the devil with all his schemes, Paul not only described the whole armor of God, but he presented it to us in this letter. If we were to take the time to elaborate on each piece of this armor, we would find in the book of Ephesians the wonderful gifts of doctrine and exhortation that show us why and how to live out each portion of our protection.
What I want to focus on in this post is that we must see the whole armor of God through the double lens of praying according to the riches of God’s glory, and praying out of an expression of God’s mercy and grace. Instead of limiting our prayers to what we see in the mirror, expecting so little because of how little we see in ourselves (or how much of ourselves we see in ourselves), we raise our prayers up to what we see in the riches of God’s glory.
Instead of limiting our prayers to what we think we deserve because of how we are doing, or what we think we could never deserve because of how we are doing, we pray out of God’s mercy and grace. We deny what our sins and failures tell us we deserve, and we ask for things we could never deserve, because everything about our relationship with God is mercy and grace from beginning to end.
When we add the whole armor of God to the picture, we EXPECT to “be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might,” because we are coming to him in his mercy and grace and expecting from him what is according to the riches of his glory. We do not expect to fall just because of what we are like (that would be a denial of God’s mercy), and we do not expect little of God because of how little we are doing (which would be a denial of God’s grace). Rather, we pray for things that the riches of God’s glory would freely give us in mercy and grace.
We must look at the whole armor of God as the gracious provision of mercy and grace to people who would never be treated as their sins deserve. In other words, when we know that EVERYTHING in our lives is based on mercy and grace, pouring out from the riches of God’s glory, we must absolutely expect to be a church that puts on the whole armor of God and takes our stand against the red dragon himself, all “rulers… authorities… cosmic powers over this present darkness… spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places,” included.
Protected in our practice of prayer
As I write this, I am preparing for our church’s prayer meeting this evening, very conscious of our enemy’s efforts to shut down prayer by any means possible. I seek to encourage us all to have such a grasp of the riches of God’s glory, flowing freely into our lives in mercy and grace, and giving us the whole armor of God in which to live as the one new man in Jesus Christ, fully protected from all “the schemes of the devil.” When we are “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication,” we can be sure to see answers to our prayers that match what God’s glorious word has told us to expect.
© 2015 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~ firstname.lastname@example.org
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.)
 The word “scripture” refers to the written words of God’s book. It is a beautiful word to get to know as we stand in awe that God would communicate his infinite and eternal thoughts into words the human mind can understand and comprehend.
 Ephesians 3:16
 Ephesians 3:20
 Ephesians 3:14-19 is Paul’s prayer, with 3:20-21 his benediction.
 Ephesians 3:16
 Ephesians 3:16
 Ephesians 3:17
 Ephesians 3:18-19
 I Timothy 1:13-14
 I Timothy 1:15
 I Timothy 1:13
 Ephesians 3:16
 The whole armor of God is described in glorious detail in Ephesians 6:10-20, with the specific phrase in verses 11, and 13.
 Ephesians 2:15
 Ephesians 2:21-22
 Revelation 12:9
 John 10:10
 Ephesians 6:10
 Ephesians 6:12
 Ephesians 6:11
 Ephesians 6:18