I found myself reading through the daily lectionary texts for today’s date and feeling drawn in by the Ephesians reading for today. The writer of Ephesians writes this prayer for the community in Ephesus, and it got me thinking about what community prayers I might have for our church.
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.
Strengthen with Power
I often find myself praying to God for strength. Usually it’s a prayer for strength around hard things. Things like grief or conflict or busy-ness. But I’m drawn to this prayer of strength for the community. Because I often think of strength as a gift for use around those hard things. I think of big muscles and moving mountains. But what if the strength that we are given as a community through the Spirit is a strength of community? The strength to be together, to serve together, to work together?
As far as community prayers go, a prayer for strength in community is an apt one. Because it’s not just about strength as a community, but about the love of Christ dwelling in the hearts of those in the community together. Strength and love are tied together in this prayer.
Power and Love
And if I were to lift up a prayer for my own church community, for Bethany Lutheran, I can think of no prayer better than one of power and love. This entire prayer for Ephesus is about God’s strength and power poured out into the community for love. And it’s through this love that God is able to do more than we can ask or imagine in all of our lives.
So today as I pray for our community, I pray for strength and power and love.
God, be with your church. Be with your churches. Strengthen communities with your love and grace. We pray that all may know your love that surpasses knowledge. And Lord, continue to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine in our church, in our community, and in our world. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.