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As believers in the Lord we pray, we pray for ourselves and we pray for other people, as it should be. I can’t even imagine the number of prayer requests I’ve heard over the years. It seems to me that the majority of things I have heard Christians pray for are physical. We often pray for who was sick, which is good. We also often ask the Lord to intervene in the material needs of someone life, and again that's perfectly proper. We pray for the needs of other Christians worldwide, all good and worthwhile prayers. There's nothing wrong with any of those prayers that but thinking about that I wondered is there something else we could be praying for.
Paul make two prayer requests in this book of the bible called Ephesians.
Paul at the point in his letter we have reached this morning takes a short break in his letter and stops to pray again. Let’s see what he says. (Eph 3: 14) Remember earlier in the passage where he said the same thing as introduction to verse one. (Eph 3: 1) Now in chapter 3 verse 14 he's coming back to where he started at the beginning of the chapter. (Eph 3: 14-15) Interesting to note he says we're all members of the family of God whether in heaven or on earth. Good to know what ever side of eternity you currently sit on you are still in the family of God. Then he gets to his prayer, and here it is. (Eph 3:16) He prays for us to be strengthened out of God's glorious riches and he prays that we would be strengthened in our inner being and given understanding.
In the beginning of v17 he gives us the reason for his prayer. (EPH 3: 17) I thought Christ already dwelt in the heart of the faithful. When we trust in Christ, he lives in us, agreed. We're going beyond that folks, because he asks that Christ may dwell in us. This particular word for dwell doesn't mean just to be there, it means to live in a deep sense of abiding somewhere. I think that it is one thing to enter a house, it is another thing to live there. He can find his resting place in you, and that's what the word dwell means in Ephesians chapter 3. Let me ask you a question does the Lord feel at home in you? Or do you make the him feel a little uncomfortable at times because of what he sees in your life? The Lord doesn’t just want us to be Christians, he wants us to be strong Christians. Another way of saying this is he wants us to become mature Christian’s.
The next part of this passage tells us the two reasons why this is worth knowing. (Eph 3:17-19) My English teacher would have said that Paul is mixing metaphors. He is saying that believers are to be rooted like a tree and established like a building in the love of God. In order that, that we can grasp the awesome extent of the love of God. How wide, how high and how deep that love is. Someone once said;
The depth of his love extends to the depth of depravity where God's grace saves sinners. The height of his love extends to the heavenlies where God grace places sinners. The breadth of his love is wide enough to reach around the whole world.
Did notice the paradox in verse 19. (Eph 3:19) He wants us to know something we can't know, to know something which surpasses knowledge. You see immature believers can’t fully understand the love of God. Many people I've talked to who don’t know what it is to be loved. Who because of their background, or their mother or their father or somebody in their life have lost sight of what it means to be loved. Spiritual maturity, means being secure in the love of God in Christ. I think Paul here is suggesting believers really can't fully understand God's love until they grow in maturity. Do you really understand that God loves you? Across the New Testament it tells us God is love and this prayer is for us to be strengthened so that we can comprehend this love in all fullness. Any real spiritual maturity consists of being full of the love of God.
The question is, are you full of the love of God? Let me tell you in my experience many believers in Jesus Christ are not. I think many Christians go to church, but it’s very clear to me that some aren’t full of the love of God. Gossip and grumblings despite of what else people say or do tells me that someone is not really spiritually mature. Therefore, we should pray for ourselves and for others that we should be strengthened in order that we should comprehend the love of God.
In verse 20 he reminds us why it is entirely sensible to do this. (Eph 3: 19) He's able according to this verse do “immeasurably more”, “exceedingly abundantly” the K.J.V. calls it. According to this verse God is able to go above and beyond all that we can imagine. God is able to do what we pray for, and more.
Many years ago, around 1925 an ad appeared in ‘Henderson’s Grocery Store’, on the Antrim Road in Belfast. “Wanted a strong lad to be a delivery boy”. Mr Henderson a WWI veteran was apparently a small plump bald man, with a round face finished off with a very impressive moustache.
A young man called in inquired about the wages, the hours the days off etc. He then asked, “do you provide a bicycle. ‘No’ replied the grocer, ‘well’ said the young man ‘I'm not going to carry your heavy groceries all over town on my own bike’. I’d like the job, but you will need to supply me with a delivery bicycle.
An hour later another young lad walked in. The young lad was aged just 14, and he was my father. Unbeknown to the grocer, my dad’s father had just died leaving him as the head of the family at 14. My Dad was now expected to be the wage earner in the family as he had to support his younger brothers Desmond, then aged 8, and Norman aged 11, still at school. He explained he applied for the job explaining he needed to work to help his widowed mother. The grocer looked at the young man and asked don't you want to know about the wages the hours and so forth. “No”, he said, “I just want the job”. The grocer then asked, “don't you want to know anything about the job, the hours the pay etc”. “No” replied my father, “I just want the job”. “Do you need to know if I will supply you with a bike before you decide to whether to take the job”. “No” said my father, “I’m saving to buy a bike, but I'll deliver on foot until I can get one.
Can I have the job please”?
The grocer said, “yes you can have the job”. “The last applicant demanded a bike, but I didn't hire him because of his attitude”. “The truth is I will provide you with a bike, one with a basket on the front which you can take off and leave at the shop when you cycle home in the evening”. That’s how my father got his first job, and his first bike
God is able to do exceedingly above all that we ask or even think of.
One very last thought. Did you notice SABC is mentioned in this passage? Did you know this congregation is mentioned in this passage? Read the final verse. (Eph 3: 21) “To all generations”, that includes us, forever and ever. This is why I talked in the first person about you and I this morning, even though this passage was written to a church in Ephesus 2000 years ago. This passage applies to us today. And for that we praise him because “he for He is able to do immeasurably more than we could ever ask”. God is able to go far beyond anything that we can imagine for us as individuals.
For us as a church if we can just truly comprehend the extant of the love of God.