Empowered: the Lord enabling us to do, say or be something beyond our own ability in order to draw attention to his glory.
When the subject of God doing supernatural things in and through us comes up, the focus is usually on power for miraculous signs and wonders, or for extraordinary boldness. But what about the power to GRASP?
God’s fullness has infinite beauty, its truth completely unreachable without his gift of power to GRASP it. His Spirit empowers us to recognise, celebrate and be changed by his truth…. more and more. The love of God is one such truth. Ephesians 3:17-19 gives us Paul’s prayer:
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.
The Message puts it this way: you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.
God’s love surpasses knowledge. It’s immense, an ocean without boundaries, and yet he makes it graspable. He doesn’t reduce his love to make it comprehensible, but enlarges our ability (supernaturally) to experience it…. more and more. It’s a journey planned for us by the Lord and the vessel prepared for our voyage in his love is prayer.
Notice how (in v20) the Spirit shifts focus from the power to GRASP LOVE to the power to PRAY:
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.
The same power at work in us to grasp more of God’s love empowers us to reach further in prayer.
Growth in the love priority affects the use of our asking license in two ways:
Love RESTRAINS our asking.
We have the right to ask big in Jesus’ name, as long as we keep the boundary markers in view (see post Can we ask WHATEVER we wish?). It’s not difficult to voice spectacular requests and bold declarations in prayer, especially in a hype moment. We can find ourselves making big requests that sound faith-energizing, but are untested for agreement with the Lord. The inner witness of truth (Rom 9:1) is important for our asking to have confidence and perseverance. It’s important that our asking stays attached to the love priority. Love not only monitors prayer motives but also content; it filters the big-but-reckless from the big-and-right.
Love STRETCHES our asking
This doesn’t contradict the above. On a single asking point love can both restrain and stretch our praying. Imagine your entire personal prayer history in a box; everything you have ever asked in prayer. The message of verse 20 above is: the Lord is able to do more. Ongoing prayer experience need not be limited to the familiar past, but can break out beyond the box. And not just more but immeasurably more. No matter how far beyond the box we take our praying, the Lord’s ability and willingness to answer will always be bigger. In fact, larger than anything we can even imagine possible! That’s how huge our asking license is in Jesus’ name. How we use it is affected by our growth in his love – and he keeps giving power to GRASP that love….. more and more!
Our journey in prayer growth is a journey in God’s love. Power to grasp love and power to grow in prayer are connected. Losing appetite for one affects the other.
Revisit the ‘Prayer bonding’ exercise at the end of my previous post Prayer Bonding – the missing ‘something. Anchor to the Eph 3 passage and allow the Spirit (his power to GRASP) to deepen your awareness of the Lord’s love for you (the pray-er) and for those you are praying for (your asking point). Then, in that deepened love – whatever the size of your box – enlarge your asking beyond it.