“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.” (Ephesians 3:20)
Have you ever been so overwhelmed by a sunset that you felt you had to tell someone? Have you ever been so excited that you simply were bursting to shout about it? That is a little bit what the Apostle Paul is like in the second great prayer of Ephesians found in chapter 3, verses 14-21. He has just written about the wonders of God’s grace in the Gospel of Jesus Christ (2:1-10), specifically the inclusion of Gentiles with the Jews (2:11-22), and his sacrificial ministry in that regard (3:1-13).
In light of all those wonderful things, Paul bursts forth in prayer. His prayer encompasses a threefold movement:
- prayer for strengthening of the inner being as Christ’s dwelling place;
- prayer for grasping the ultimately unknowable love of God; and
- lifting up praise to our glorious God.
Paul wants the believers to not only know God but to be completely indwelt by God in Christ. He wants them not only to have knowledge of the steadfast love of the Lord, but to be overcome by the limitless love of God lavished upon them. He wants them not only to ask God for certain things but to be completely overwhelmed by the glory of God that is accessible to them because of Jesus Christ.
The beauty of this prayer’s poetic language and expansive scope is astounding. More than dividing it up for study it is necessary that we take the words of this prayer upon our own lips and into our own hearts in personal prayer to God.
Stop for a some time to pray the words of Paul back to God one section at a time. Ask Him to strengthen you as His holy dwelling place. Ask Him to stretch your knowledge of His ultimately infinite love. Praise Him for His surpassing power and greatness. Maybe you want to write your prayer down in some form, like in a journal. Maybe you want to pray through these verses aloud with someone else. Whatever you do, let us learn to pray from Paul through actively entering into this prayer ourselves.