Ephesians 3:16-17a, “… that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.”
The Ephesians church like every other church, Paul wrote to had many needs which resulted in the Apostle Paul making intercession for. We can get some idea of these needs from Paul’s prayers for the Ephesians which are not easy to reconstruct. The Ephesians needed instruction in sound doctrine like all of us. The petition offered in Ephesians 3:16-17a is Paul praying for the Lord to strengthen His people who may be facing discouragement because of his imprisonment. Since all Christians get discouraged, this prayer applies to every Christian and so they can bring it before the Father on behalf of other Christians.
Paul is praying in full view, and with full knowledge of an all-powerful Creator, God appeals to the riches of divine glory as he asks the Lord to come to the aid of his readers. Riches suggests inexhaustible resources. The Lord God has a well of gifts and graces that never runs dry. The Lord richly gives, never holding back, and never having to worry that the storehouse of His power will be emptied. We can rejoice that the Father “Gives the Spirit without measure” (John 3:34). We can be ever-confident that the Lord will grant any request we have to be strengthened in Him in our inner being. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit will grant power and strength to every Christian heart and mind, enabling them to endure any trial and encouraging them when they are down (Acts 1:8).
Paul prays that the Lord grant strength “so that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith” (Ephesians 3:17). The Lord Jesus dwells in the hearts of Christians. The Apostle here is not referring to the initial dwelling of Christ by the Holy Spirit at conversion. He is asking that Christians might become people in whom the perfect Lord Jesus is fully at home. Paul prays for the advancement of Christian’s sanctification- our growth in personal holiness. He does this so we might bring him no shame as we profess Him as Lord and live before a watching world before the face of God. Christians never reach a point in their lives in the present where such a prayer becomes unnecessary. John Calvin says, “Believers have never advanced so far as not to need farther growth. The highest perfection of the godly in this life is an earnest desire to make progress.”
The Lord Jesus doesn’t wait for Christians to be perfect and have it all figured out before He takes up residence within them and for that, they should rejoice. Even so, it is possible for Christians to grieve the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30), so they must ever seek to mortify their sin so that they may be a fit dwelling place for Him. To do that, Christians need the strength and help that only the Lord can provide. With Paul, we should seek the help of the Lord’s face daily that you and I might ever be conscious of our need for His grace and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.