ONE FATHER, CLAN, RACE
Father, we bow our knees to You in submission.
Read EPHESIANS 3:14–21
A Prayer for the Ephesians
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
a. Ephesians 3:15 The Greek for family (patria) is derived from the Greek for father (pater).
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘Father of all, we give You thanks and praise, that when we were still far off, You met us in Your Son, and brought us home’ (Prayer Book for Australia)
Deep emotion surrounds the image of Paul kneeling, perhaps on the floor of his cell. Kneeling is not a common posture for prayer in the Scriptures: people stand to pray (Mark 11:25). Kneeling is often part of extreme situations, the gesture of deeply troubled people with nowhere else to turn. Images come to our minds – the leper kneeling before Jesus (Mark 1:40), Stephen at his moment of death (Acts 7:60), and Jesus sweating blood in Gethsemane (Luke 22:41, 44). In this passionate prayer, Paul names God as Father, the complete and everlasting cosmic Father. English translations lose the Greek play on words (pater means father; patria means clan or race). God is the ultimate Father of all families, tribes, and races, the one from whom all derive their ‘name’ (15). It is as children of the one Father that we gain our real identity and through Him we achieve our true destiny.
What, then, is Paul’s prayer to the one Father of us all? It is that we let the power of God’s Spirit reach into the deepest place of our being so that Christ may dwell there (16,17). Paul’s use of superlative language and strong words like power and glory has wrongly led some commentators to think that this prayer looks forward to a triumphant church conquering the world. Paul’s kneeling posture should have warned them that this is not so. Paul faces death: he wants all Christians who will face what he is facing to feel what he is feeling in the unassailable depth of their beings – that the love of Christ is immeasurable, beyond all knowing; that they can let themselves be filled with the fullness of the God who fathers us all. Words ultimately fail Paul (20). God’s presence and power for us, even in the worst of crises, is immeasurably beyond anything we can imagine.
‘You our Father, Christ our brother / all are yours who live in love / teach us how to love each other / lift us to your joy above’ (Henry Van Dyke, 1852–1933, ‘Joyful, Joyful’ – altered).
Father, we give thanks to You for allowing us to bear the family name, owing to what Your Son Jesus accomplished for us.
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