I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
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, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (verses 16-21)
One of my favourite Greek words is dunamis. It means power. It spills over into many of our English words: dynamo, dynamic, dynamite.
Paul often uses this word in connection with the Spirit. He is the Spirit of power. Think of the Day of Pentecost and the sound of a mighty rushing wind filling the place where the disciples were gathered. Think of the Spirit’s effect – the disciples filled with his presence, speaking in unlearned tongues, declaring God’s praises boldly, preaching good news fearlessly, seeing thousands come to faith in one day. That gives you a clear sense of dunamis – dynamite indeed!
That’s what Paul now prays for the church of Ephesus – that they may be strengthened “with power through his Spirit” in their inner being. I’ll take that! What blessing. What gift.
To catch the full wonder of Paul’s prayer, we need to focus on where the prayer begins. Look up, way up. The prayer starts there: “out of his glorious riches” (verse 16). How rich is God? Very. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, the Psalmist says. The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it. That’s rich!
If the power of the Spirit, which strengthens us in our inner being, comes from that rich source, it is abundantly powerful indeed.
But there’s more. The NIV translation says the power comes “out of” this richness. This conjures up images of “spilling forth” or “overflowing.” But what Paul actually says is more intense yet. It’s not that there is this great, massive resource (God’s riches) and “out of” it we get some. No! What Paul literally writes is that the power would be “according to” – in other words, that we would receive power to the measure of what’s there. Not just a portion, no – rather, to the full extent of the glorious riches of God himself. Wow!
We also need to take a look at where this prayer is heading. Having started in the expansive riches of God, it ends up, several verses later, right here, in our own hearts. Paul prays “that you may be filled (that’s in the centre of our own lives) to the measure of all the fullness of God” (verse 19). Talk about a big end-result! Not that we would be filled up “from” God’s fullness, or “by” God’s fullness, but rather “to the measure of all” God’s fullness. That’s huge!
This is a prayer that originates in the full extent of God’s glorious riches and ends up in the full extent of God’s fullness, filling our very lives. What a prayer!
And if that weren’t outlandish enough, Paul tops it off by reminding us that God himself is“able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (verse 20).
As a church, we prayed this prayer regularly for ourselves over a period of several years. I’m not sure why we stopped. In whatever way the Lord chooses to fulfill it, this is a prayer to plead before the throne of heaven, again and again.
Lord, may it be.
Dear Lord, I pray that according to your glorious riches you would fill me with power by your Spirit in my inner being, so that I may be filled up to the measure of all your fullness. May it be. In Jesus’ name. By the power of your Spirit. Amen.
Pray: … the above prayer. Again and again. Outlandishly imagine what it’s fulfilment will look like. Remind yourself the Lord is able to do immeasurably more even than that.