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Bowing the Knee

Posted On April 23, 2019

Ephesians 3:14-15, “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.”

In Ephesians 3:2-13 Paul refers to his calling and ministry as a brief aside in this epistle. Today in Ephesians 3:14-15 he returns to where he left off in verse 1 with his second prayer for the Ephesians in this letter. To that end, Paul bows the knee “for this reason” (Ephesians 3:14). He is referring back to Ephesians 2:21-22. The Lord’s plan to unite Jews and Gentiles through faith in the Lord Jesus moves the apostle to intercede for the Ephesian church. It is even more clear in this prayer the comprehensive nature of the love of Christ (Ephesians 3:17-19). Paul’s readers, if, they understand the love Jesus has for them, will be able to love one another and form a new humanity for which the Lord Jesus died (Ephesians 2:13-16; 1 John 4:7-21).

Paul in speaking of his prayer tells his readers to bow their knee to the Father. We need not take this literally to refer to kneeling as the only appropriate posture of prayer. Typically first-century Jewish men stood while praying so this is likely how Paul would have prayed. Even so, what is more, important than discussing the posture of prayer is the attitude of our heart in prayer. Christians should have an attitude in prayer characterized by humility, repentance, and absolute dependence on the grace of God (Luke 18:9-14). Whatever the posture of how one prayer, we cannot fake out, our motivate must be our chief concern in coming to God in prayer.

As Christians, we must approach the Lord God with sincerity and humility because He is Sovereign. Christians know the Lord as a loving Father who delights to hear His children prayers but should not let such familiarity breed a lackadaisical attitude in prayer. The Lord is still the Almighty Creator. Paul makes this point clear when he says “every family in heaven and on earth” gets its name from the Lord (Ephesians 3:15). Naming something or someone in biblical times conveyed the authority of the namer over the one named (Psalm 147:4; Isaiah 40:26). In telling us that the Lord God has named every family, including animal families and angelic clans, Paul proclaims the Lord’s absolute sovereignty over all of His creation. As we pray, the Lord’s sovereignty is a comfort knowing that He who also names, orders and sustains the cosmos. The sovereignty of God means He is genuinely able to grant what we ask as it aligns with the perfect and sovereign will of God contained in the sixty-six books of the Word of God.

In the Old Covenant, God was rarely called Father. In the New Covenant, Christians should be glad to live in a time when the fatherhood of God is made plain to everyone in Christ alone. As Christians approach the Father, we should never forget He is the same Lord of the universe. May our heart attitude as Christians be to approach him with humility and sincerity as we come before the throne of God’s grace (Hebrews 4:14-16).

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