Do you feel spiritually weak right now? Has Christ not be as beautiful to you as you know He is? Have you been slower to resist temptation? Have you had an unclear view of the love of God right now? There are other ways and places in the Christian life that we see a red light on our spiritual dashboard. But beyond these prayer is a central place where our spiritual weakness is on display. So if you are spiritually weak already and you know the answer is to cry out to God about it, what are you to do? You feel so weak spiritually that prayer itself seems next to impossible. This we know from Scripture: Without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). So in your weakness you need to pray, but you feel too weak to perseveringly pray to the Lord about your weakness. You need faith! You need to believe that if you will call out to God He will strengthen you spiritually.
Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3:13-19 is very helpful in this dynamic. He is praying that the Ephesians would be strengthened spiritually “in the inner man” (3:16). But he doesn’t just pray that they would be strengthened, he tells them how he prays for them. And as he does so we hear why he can pray in faith that they would be strengthened. If Paul and we can pray this for others (and we should much more than we do!), we should also pray this for ourselves in our spiritual weakness. We can model our prayer for spiritual strength upon Paul’s and we can be strengthened to pray in this way by considering the way Paul speaks of who He is going to in prayer. God breathed out through Paul’s pen “faith boosters” even before his prayer is recorded.
Here is the prayer without the preparatory faith boosters:
to be strengthened…in the inner man, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. 20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, 21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:16b-21).
So what “faith boosters” can you lay hold of when you know you need to pray for spiritual strength but you feel to weak in your faith to do so?
First, you are praying to the sovereign Father over all things: “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven ad on earth derives its name” (14-15). You are praying to God the Father who “created all things” (3:9). Almost exclusively the emphasis in the Bible about God being Father is that He is Father of His own children by faith in Jesus Christ. But here the emphasis seems to be on the fact that He is sovereign over all things because He made all things. When you are spiritually weak and are going to God in prayer asking for strength, remember who you are praying to. He created all things and every single family whether in heaven (the angels) or earth (all peoples) derive their name from Him. You may be weak, but the One you are praying to is not.
Second, you are praying to the One who grants requests “according to the riches of His glory.” In other words, in your weakness pray to God who is sovereign over all peoples and beings and remember that He is able to grant your request according to the riches of His own unique excellence. There is no one else on earth that you possibly be going to that is able to grant requests like this. In addition, you can be sure that He is not only able, but He will always answer this request with yes. God will never hear His child ask for spiritual strength and turn away from them. And if you call out in faith, He will answer according to the riches of His grace.
Third, you are praying to the One that can grant you strength from His strength through His Holy Spirit: “that He would grant you….to be strengthened with power through His Spirit” (3:17). If we are weak and we are praying to God for strength whose power do you think God will strength us with? It will be His own power through His Spirit. And is His power available and near? Are you not the temple of the Holy Spirit? Is He not dwelling in you?
So do you feel spiritually weak? Pray! Do you feel too weak to pray? Okay, meditate upon how Paul prays here and submit yourself to the Spirit’s work in your heart through this example. What you will find is that your faith has been boosted and you are crying out to the Sovereign Father who is Father of all and specifically of you in redemption. You will be calling out to the one that is able to grant things according to the riches of His unique excellence. And you will be calling out to Him who can strengthen you according to His power. Your faith will be boosted and your spiritual weakness will be as well.