5.2.23 | Eph 3:14-21, pt 3

Tuesday Prayer

45 minutes of worship, contemplation, and intercession

Prayer Guide

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 20 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, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

“That you may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.

Today, I planted grass in my backyard. In order to understand how much grass seed to use, I had to know the dimensions of my backyard. Yesterday, I bought clothing for my rapidly growing teenager. In order to know what type of running shorts and shoes he needed, I had to know his dimensions…his measurements. Last summer, I went sailing with my friend Woody off Cape Cod. Woody had a box of nautical charts in his sailboat, because any ship captain traveling through coastal waters needs to understand the depths and the widths of the waters they are sailing. These measurements are essential. 

But how often do we take the measurements of God’s love? It is, after all, the most important reality we need to understand, both in this life and in eternity…and yet often we go along without fully understanding the dimensions, the scope, the size, the magnitude of God’s love. Paul in this prayer prays for the Ephesians and for “all of the Lord’s holy people” (ie…us) to grasp the dimensions of God’s love. The word here in the Greek for grasp is katalambano, “to seize, or lay hold of.” the Latin equivalent would be “comprehend, or apprehend.” To “capture with the mind.” In the same way that we study and understand a navigation chart or measure the backyard, Paul wants us to assess the dimensions of God’s love. Or at least attempt to.

How wide is God’s love? It is not narrow but exceedingly wide. It is wide enough to cover every human being and every creature God has made. God’s love does not apply merely to some people…but to everyone. For some of us it is hard to believe that God’s love is wide enough for us. We may think “Oh, God loves her, or him…but could he really love me?” Yes. He does. Others of us may know God loves us but struggle to believe he loves our enemies. But God loves enemies…his own and ours. “Forgive them, Father” Jesus prayed out of the agony of the cross. He so loved the world that he gave his only son, that whosoever believes in him may have eternal life. 

But God’s love is not just wide, it is long. In other words, it is not short or transitory or fleeting in its duration. Man’s life is a shadow, a vapor. We are like the grass I planted in my backyard, here today but tomorrow gone. But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear Him. His love is durable. It endures even our betrayals of him. It loves the prodigal who left for the far country. It loves the older brother who is embittered in the religious spirit. God is compassionate and gracious. Slow to anger and abounding in love. His love endures for a thousand generations. Some of us are under the impression that when we mess up or fail, God’s love somehow changes…or wanes. For as long as the sun will rise and burn in the sky, God will love us. And longer.

God’s love is also high. It is not low, base, or impure. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him. His love is not like our love. As humans, we tend to anthropomorphize the divine. We base God’s love on our own love. He must love us like we love one another or ourselves. The ancient Greeks and Romans thought the love of their gods was like human love. But God’s love is high, lofty, holy, pure. There are no mixed motives in God’s heart. He doesn’t love us to get something out of us. He loves because he is love. He can do nothing other than love. Even in his wrath he loves. We love others so often (or think we do) because of what they can do for us or how they make us feel. God’s love is rooted in his character, which never changes. 

And God’s love is deep. That is to say…it is far from shallow. We are acquainted with the love of people, which often only goes skin deep. We love someone because of what they look like, or our fantasies about what they are like. But the minute the manure hits the fan, and we begin to see what a mess somebody is, our love wavers. But God is never surprised by our mess. Before a word is on our tongue he already knows it. He discerns our thoughts from afar. He is familiar with all our ways. He knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows the dark, dank recesses of our souls. The secrets we keep. There are no secrets from him. He knows our darkness and still he loves us. When we grasp the depths of his love, we know we can be fully ourselves in his presence and still be loved. And it is the experience of being truly known and loved that transforms us.

Friend, do you know God’s love? Paul prays that you and I would know his love. Not just intellectually…but experientially and relationally. So that you would trust it and revel in it and base your whole life on it. 

Prayer Prompts:

  • Ask God for revelation of the dimensions of his love? Which dimension is hardest for you to “grasp” in your mind and heart? Ask the Spirit to reveal it to you.
  • Pray for “all of the Lord’s holy people” to understand the dimensions of God’s love.
  • Pray for a familiar, personal knowledge of God’s love in your heart and the church