“For this reason” – compare with 3:1, where Paul begins to tell them what he prays before he digresses (encouragingly like us his thoughts seem at times to have wandered as he got down to pray!). So we need to look back into ch.2 to see the reason – God’s great plan of 1:10 is being realised in the Church, as he makes a new humanity in Christ, indwelt by his Spirit. Notice how, as in ch.1, Paul’s prayers are driven and shaped by the Gospel: in contrast, how often are our prayers driven and shaped by our problems rather than God’s Plan.
“kneel” – the normal posture was to stand, kneeling suggests passion and earnestness.
“derives its name” –for God to give us our name suggests that our character and identity come from him. It might also suggest his dominion over us. The fact that he has made us what we are, and rules over us, leads Paul to pray that God would make us more truly what we are in Christ.
“out of his glorious riches” – should be “according to his glorious riches”. ie the prayer is not that God would merely give a portion of his wealth, but give in proportion to his wealth.
Paul makes two requests for power. The first is unpacked in vv.16, 17a, with v.17a expanding and explaining v.16. The request then is that, by the power of the Spirit, “Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith”.
“dwell” – has the sense of settle down, make yourself thoroughly at home. Christ of course already lives in us, but the prayer is that our hearts might more and more become dwellings that reflect his character; not just “his home” but more truly “his home”. It is a prayer that the Spirit might so work in us that the character of Christ becomes the hallmark of our lives.
The second request is for power to know Christ’s love. We need his power to grasp it, for we won’t grasp it merely by our own intellectual reflection, and our grasp of his love for us is often weak, is it not? perhaps it has grown weaker over time, so how we should pray this!. We also need to be “rooted and established in love”, which I think simply means to be a Christian – we will never grasp Christ’s love till we know God’s grace in our lives. And thirdly, we need other Christians – only “together with all the saints” will we fully grasp God’s love.
His prayer is summed up as a request that they be “filled to the measure of all the fullness of God”. This is a prayer for maturity, to be perfect as he is perfect, holy as he is holy.
It is a big prayer, but Paul knows God is a big God. And not only is God’s power more than sufficient, “his power is at work within us”, which should embolden us to pray along with Paul.
“to him be glory in the Church” –our raison d’etre (1:12).
Our prayers are so often driven by mere routine, or duty, or desperate need. What drives Paul to pray?
As well as his understanding of God’s Plan, what understanding of God’s nature leads him to pray?
Why do we need God’s power?
Does Christ not already dwell in our hearts?
If the sense of “dwell” is to make thoroughly his home, what is Paul asking for?
For what else do we need God’s power?
What does Paul mean by “being rooted and established in love”? How is that essential if we are to know the vastness of Christ’s love?
Why will we only fully grasp Christ’s love “together with all the saints”? Can a solitary Christian not have as good an understanding of Christ’s love?
Can we ever say we have “got it”, and feel we have a sufficient grasp of his love?
What does it mean to be “filled to the fullness of God”?
How does this sum up all he’s asked for? (What are the marks of Christian maturity?)
How does what Paul says here give us confidence to pray as Paul has prayed?
How does Paul’s prayer encourage us to pray differently?
How should we pray for ourselves, each other, our overseas partners?