‘For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being…’ (Ephesians 3:14-16)
It is not always easy to be a Christian. Jesus said – ‘If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.’ (John 15:18-20) As followers of Jesus Christ, we are swimming against the current.
Paul understood firsthand the difficulties that comes through being a Christian. We read in 2 Corinthians 11 of the various trials he experienced. He was imprisoned, beaten, stoned with rocks, shipwrecked, left hungry and cold, and sometimes abandoned by his dearest friends. It took a great deal of inner strength for Paul to be the man he was and to do the things he did. How did Paul receive this inner strength? In our passage for today we see that he received it through the indwelling Holy Spirit.
How is the Spirit able to strengthen us? Scripture seems to indicate that He does so in our inner spirit. Consider this example from the book of Acts.
Acts 4:29 And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness… 31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.
Once the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit, they spoke the Word of God with boldness. The Spirit of God strengthened their spirits. The Holy Spirit made them strong.
Without the strengthening of the Holy Spirit, none of us could effectively serve God. Oh we might serve the Lord while the sun is shining and we are still in the favor of our friends; but once the tide begins to turn against us and we find ourselves being attacked, none of us would be strong enough in and of ourselves to survive. In our own strength we would quickly cave in. Therefore, it is very important that we always be praying for God to make us strong by His Spirit.
The disciples in Jerusalem prayed for the Spirit’s strength and so did the Apostle Paul. In closing, consider this prayer request Paul made for himself.
Ephesians 6:18 Pray in the Spirit at all times, with every kind of prayer and petition. To this end, stay alert with all perseverance in your prayers for all the saints. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, divine utterance may be given me, so that I will boldly make known the mystery of the gospel, …20 Pray that I may proclaim it fearlessly, as I should.