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)
Last time we looked at where this prayer starts (God’s glorious riches) and where it ends (our hearts filled to the measure of all God’s fullness). A powerful prayer indeed!
But we didn’t look at the centre of the prayer. We pause to look now.
Love is what we find. That’s what the prayer is centred on. Specifically, Christ’s love. Since we are “in Christ”, as Paul keeps on saying, we are already rooted and established in Christ’s love – it’s the very reality of our life in him. But Paul prays here that we might actually know that love of Christ more deeply.
It’s a necessary prayer because Paul further admits that this love “surpasses knowledge.”What Paul wants us to comprehend is actually beyond comprehension. Except by the power of the Spirit.
When I think of Holy-Spirit-power I think of miracles and signs and wonders. I think of 3000 coming to faith in Jesus on one day under the preaching of otherwise fearful Peter (Acts 2). I think of a man running and leaping and praising God at the Temple’s Gate Beautiful, after being lame from birth (Acts 3). I think of Tabitha raised from the dead and Aeneas able to walk (Acts 9). I think of Cornelius’ angelic vision (Acts 10) and Peter’s angelic release from Herod’s prison (Acts 12) and Elymas the sorcerer struck blind in judgement (Acts 13) and Paul divinely directed to Philippi, rather than to the locations he had previously expected (Acts 16). These are mighty acts. Oh, how we need them still today.
But there are other acts of power, equal in magnitude. Paul prays for one here. It’s the miracle of being caught up in the vast dimensions of the love of Jesus. The width and length and height and depth of that love trace out the dimensions of the cross. It’s one thing to understand that love intellectually, but it’s entirely another to grasp it with the whole of our being. That’s where the power of the Spirit comes to bear.
“Power … to grasp” (verse 18) – that’s the power of the Spirit. And, oh, how we need it.
Thomas Goodwin, the 17th century Puritan theologian, envisioned a man on a road, walking hand in hand with a little boy. The man is the boy’s father – the boy knows it well, and knows his father loves him. But suddenly, as they walk, the father stoops down, picks the boy up in his arms, cuddles him, kisses him, and whispers in his ear how much he loves him. Then he puts him down again, and they continue to walk, hand in hand. Goodwin says it’s great to walk with your father, but it’s more powerful yet to be enfolded in his arms.
This is the power-filled work of the Spirit in our lives, making the love of the Saviour known to us, to the depths of our being. As Spurgeon, the great British preacher of the 1800s, said: “He has embraced us.”
This is the heart of Paul’s prayer – that the power of the Spirit, as great as God’s glorious riches, would make known to our very depths the otherwise incomprehensible love of Christ, a knowledge that will then fill us up to the very measure of the fullness of God. May it be.
May it be, O Lord. May it be.
Pray: … Paul’s prayer for yourself. Pray it over, again and again, this day. Memorize it if you can. Seek to soak in the incomprehensible love of Christ.