For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. – Ephesians 3:14-21
In the previous section of Ephesians, Paul started off with the thoughts, “For this reason…” and then got caught up in a glorious rabbit trail sharing his mission statement. He now returns to his original thought, his prayer for the Ephesians and by extension for us. I believe we can take up Paul’s prayers and pray them for ourselves and our families to great effect.
There are three requests in Paul’s prayer each preceded by the word, “that.”
Strengthened with power
For us to have experiential knowledge of the things of God, we must be strengthened in our inner man or our hearts, if you will. In our natural state, we are incapable of apprehending the things of God. This is the great personal work of the Holy Spirit in our inner man.
This strengthening is “according to the riches of his glory.” If we take the time to meditate on this, our minds and hearts will hardly grasp it. We, in our inner man, will be strengthened by the Holy Spirit in a manner that is reflective of the riches of God’s glory. Paul is talking about and to you. God desires that you be strengthened by the Holy Spirit in a manner that reflects the riches of God’s own glory. Why? So Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith.
Know the love that surpasses knowledge
The objective of request number one is that we as individuals and as the church corporately, know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge. Again, Paul takes us to places that are incomprehensible. We are allowed to know what is unknowable by the intellect alone. The love of Christ is beyond mere intellectual comprehension, we are allowed to apprehend, or grasp, that love in our hearts, its breadth and length and height and depth.
Filled with the fullness of God
The final request is that we should be filled with the fullness of God. Paul takes us into the realm of mystery here. How is it that we frail humans, even redeemed humans, can be filled with the fullness of God? I don’t dare to attempt to define precisely what Paul means by our being filled with the fullness of God. Like knowing the love that surpasses knowledge, this is an experience that is beyond experience. From our weak finite human vantage point, this is impossible, but Paul prays for it anyway, and so should we. How can this become reality?
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
God can do it.