What is the purpose of Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3:14-21? “For this reason” What is the reason? All of chapters 1–3. The foreknowing, predestining, foreloving, gracious faith-giving God who created us and then Redeemed us when we were dead in sins, who brought us us into union with himself in Christ, and united us together with all things in Christ Jesus—For that reason I bow my knees before the Father. God is building his church to show forth his glory through us. So Paul, thinking of this incredible phenomenon, prays that we may be fit for the task.
He says, “For this reason, I bow the knee.” This isn’t a binding rule about our prayer posture. Jews normally stood in prayer unless it was a time of unusual humility. It’s an extra humbling posture, one of deference and seriousness. Philippians 2 tells us that at the last day everyone will bow the knee, showing our allegiance, our devotion, our supplication before the King.
Sinclair Ferguson tells of when he first moved to America, and he found out his children were saying the Pledge of Allegiance every day at school. As a Scotsman, Ferguson was aghast.
“Are you saying it?” he asked his son. “Yes, dad,” his son answered. But then he added with a wink, “But I don’t mean it.”
When we wake up and begin our days, do we bow the knee? Do we bow the heart to our King each day? Do we pledge our allegiance to the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, our prophet, priest and king, the ruler over all creation, the one who is greater than anything we could ever imagine?
Paul tells us that the lower you bow, the higher you see. Do you see the Father?
Because that’s who we’re bowing in front of, the Father of glory. This fatherhood of God speaks of his care and nurturing of his whole family, which is everyone. This text points to the universal fatherhood of God as Creator. We all come from him. We’re all his. It’s why anyone can pray, “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.” And yet he particularly adopts some as his sons and daughters. That speaks of the special redemption of the work of Jesus Christ to bring us all the way in, to give us all the way access.
We’re praying for our whole family when we come to the Father. We’re not just praying for our church or denomination or city or state or region. We’re not praying for the churches in our nation even or hemisphere. We’re praying for THE CHURCH, for all the saints. And in another way, we’re praying for all people to be found in the goodness of the Fatherhood of God.
Some of us need to go right now and get a paternity test. We might want to find out if God really is our father after all. If he is, then that is a very important thing. I know some of you have had awful human fathers. Fathers do some terrible, ungodly, harmful things to their children. Fathers can be mean, cruel, abusive, negligent, uncaring, demanding and passive.
And then we stick into our family trees. We love our own people, our own kind.
Perhaps you’ve seen the DNA test where people talk about their ethnicity and countries.They admit they are prejudiced against other colors, ethnicities, countries and groups. They’re asked if they’d be interested to find out their stories, if they’d want to know more of the story. One man says, “You won’t find out anything more than I’ve told you.” Another says, “I’m 100% Icelandic.” Others say, “You’ll tell me I’m French. You’ll tell me I’m Cuban. You’ll tell me I’m English. You’ll tell me I’m black.” End of story.
Not so fast.
Their results all came back far different than they had expected. No one was ONLY from where they thought. Many were far more mixed than they had ever imagined. Some of them had the race they hated in their own DNA. One of the test givers said, “In a way, we’re all cousins.” And then, two of the people in the room found out they literally were cousins, and they met for the first time.
Think about how we are all so connected, that we are family.
And think about how we have a father who created us all. This father names you. He loves you. He thinks you’re wonderful. He thinks you’re beautiful the way he created you. You don’t have to conform to any other pattern of masculinity or femininity or power or love or beauty or intelligence other than what he’s gifted you with. Live into his love for you.
Have you ever seen a child draw something and give it to her loving, attentive father? She climbs up in his lap, and his eyes are on her and she gives him a picture she’s drawn (one that is terrible by the world’s eyes), and he fawns over it, asks her more about and tells her its absolutely wonderful. Have you known fathers who delight in their children? This father is like that. And then we find out we’re family together, a wonderful mosaic, multicolored family.
Do you know this father? Would you like to know him? Do you think that having a father like this might make a difference in what you would think of him and of yourself? It might me a difference for accountants, housewives, prostitutes, single, married, divorced, widowed, handicapped, minimum wage, the wealthy. For all of us.