Ephesians 3:14-21 (NRSV)
Verse 14For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, Verse 15from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. Verse 16I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, Verse 17and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. Verse 18I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, Verse 19and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Verse 20Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, Verse 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
One day in summer Greek class, Professor Boyce introduced us to “hina” clauses, clauses introduced by a word that most often expresses an idea of “purpose,” often translated as “that” or “so that.” Think of John 3:16, “For God gave his only son, so that everyone who believes …may have eternal life.” I remembered Dr. Boyce’s words when a congregation I served was crafting a new mission statement, and this was the result: “Grounded in faith, gathered in love, and sent with a purpose; so that others may gain the Kingdom!”
But sometimes, especially in the context of prayer, a “hina” clause expresses not the purpose but the “content” of what is prayed for. The writer of Ephesians knows that sense, and uses it well here, praying:
That you may be strengthened in your inner being;
That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith;
That you may know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge;
That you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Let us believe and trust that God will answer our prayers with all the “that”s.
God, your constant presence with us to answer prayer is overwhelming, so that you join us on every mountain, plain and valley. Amen