Paul made several requests, and the first one is in verse 16, where he prayed for spiritual strength: “That he would grant you, according ot the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man.” There is in the believer an inner man that corresponds with the outer man. For example, my outer man needs food, otherwise i would die; and the inner man needs food to. “Man shall not live by bread alone,” said Jesus, “but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4).
My outer man needs cleansing. If I didn’t wash, I would pick up disease germs and get sick. The inner man needs cleansing as well. David prayed, “Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” (Ps. 51:7).
The outer man needs clothing for protection and for modesty; and the inner man needs clothing. In Colossians 3, Paul talked about dressing ourselves in the garments of grace.
The outer man needs exercise, otherwise we would get flabby; and the inner man needs exercise. Paul wrote to Timothy: “Exercise thyself rather unto godliness” (1 Tim. 4:7).
Now the outer man needs strength, and the inner man needs strength. The Holy Spirit of God gives power to the inner man. I fear that too many Christians today are operating on “soul power” instead of Holy Spirit power. You see, you and I are spirit, soul, and body. We are like the Old Testament tabernacle which had three parts to it. There was an outer court with a fence around it—this corresponds to the body. You could take down that fence and never touch the real tabernacle, the tent. My body can be taken down in death, and this will not really affect the inner man.
Toward the back of that courtyard was a tent, one tent divided into two parts—the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. The Holy Place was a place where the priests ministered. There was a lamp stand there and an altar of incense, as well as a table of bread. The Holy Place corresponds to my soul—my thinking, feeling and willing. Unsaved people operate on “soul power,” the power of the mind, the emotions and the will. Some people have more will power than others. But we Christians have an added quality—the Holy Spirit living within.
When Moses dedicated that tabernacle, God moved into the Holy of Holies. The Holy of Holies corresponds to my spirit. When you were saved, the Holy Spirit of God came into your spirit, and now the spirit of God bears witness with your spirit that you are God’s child. If you don’t’ have that inner witness you have never been saved. “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Rom. 8:9).
The Holy Spirit of God wants to use your mind and heart and will in order to control your body. That’s what Paul was praying about. He wanted these people to be strengthened with might in the inner man. Don’t’ just operate on soul power—the intellect, the emotions, the will—because this will drain you. Let God fill you with His Holy Spirit.
Have you prayed like that lately as you have faced the daily trials and demands of life? Do you say, “O God, strengthen me in the inner man?”
In verse 17 he prays for spiritual depth: “that Christ may dwell (and that verb means “to settle down and feel at home”) in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love…” “Rooted” is an agricultural term. A tree has to send the roots down deep to have stability and nourishment. “Grounded” is an architectural term. It refers to digging deep and laying a good foundation. Both of these pictures emphasize depth.
The great need today in our churches is for depth. We have shallow sentiment and shallow emotion that go on and off like the radio or the television set. We need depth! Have you prayed lately for spiritual depth? Have you prayed that Jesus Christ would get deeper and deeper into your life, that He would not just be a guest that you talk to occasionally, but that He would settle down and feel at home?
I wonder if there’s anything in my life that makes the Lord Jesus not feel at home? I wonder if there is something in my inner man that grieves the Holy Spirit? Are you and I sending the roots of our faith down deep? Do we spend time in the Word of God, getting rooted there? Are we grounded? Are we building on a foundation that is deep and strong? Are we praying for spiritual strength and spiritual depth?
(First appeared in the Good News Broadcaster. All rights reserved, copyright Warren W. Wiersbe.)
Dr. Warren Wiersbe (1929-2019) was an internationally known Bible teacher, author, and conference speaker. He graduated in 1953 from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Lombard, Illinois. While attending seminary, he was ordained as pastor of Central Baptist Church in 1951 and served until 1957. From September 1957 to 1961, Wiersbe served as Director of The Literature Division for Youth for Christ International. From 1961 to 1971 he pastored Calvary Baptist Church of Covington, Kentucky south of Cincinnati, Ohio. His sermons were broadcast as the “Calvary Hour” on a local Cincinnati radio station. From 1971 to 1978, He served as the pastor of Moody Church in Chicago 1971 to 1978. While at Moody Church he continued in radio ministry. Between August 1979 and March 1982, he wrote bi-weekly for Christianity Today as “Eutychus X”, taught practical theology classes at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and wrote the course material and taught a Doctor of Ministry course at Trinity and Dallas Seminary. In 1980 he transitioned to Back to the Bible radio broadcasting network where he worked until 1990. Dr. Wiersbe became Writer in Residence at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids and Distinguished Professor of Preaching at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. In his lifetime, Dr. Wiersbe wrote over 170 books—including the popular Be series, which has sold over four million copies. Dr. Wiersbe was awarded the Gold Medallion Lifetime Achievement by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA).