“I kneel before the Father….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 Lord’s holy people, 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” Ephesians 3:14, 16-19
Paul has three major prayers for the Ephesians in the above passage. He prays, “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith,” and that they would be, “rooted and established in love.” Finally he prays that they would be, ”filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
The interesting fact regarding these passages of Scripture is that Paul is writing to Christians, the Ephesians, and not to non-believers. Yet he is praying for them to allow the Holy Spirit to administer the power and strength of the Father deep in their inner being. He also prays that they will be, rooted and established in love.
What is going on here? Paul is reminding the Ephesians that Christianity is not all about head knowledge but they must experience Jesus personally. Dwight L. Moody was one of America’s greatest evangelists who ministered in the late nineteenth century. He wrote about a very special experience he once had with God in the following words:
“One day in the city of New York—oh what a day —I cannot describe it, I seldom refer to it; it is almost too sacred an experience to name…I can only say that God revealed Himself to me, and I had such an experience of His love that I had to ask Him to stay His hand.” quoted Timothy Keller, Prayer p. 167
Can you imagine being so overcome with the presence and power of God that you have to ask Him to stop pouring His Spirit out upon you? As I have mentioned Moody was one of the great preachers in the history of America and yet when He encountered God that day in New York City he was elevated to a new and higher plane of experience.
Here is what I think Paul is saying in Ephesians. We who profess to be Christians don’t always live up to the wonder and joy that God has declared for us because we are too occupied with living in a theological box. We pride ourselves on what we know and how much we understand about the Bible but haven’t allowed it to penetrate deep within our hearts in such a way that we are filled with love. It is only when we begin to experience the Gospel in our personal lives that we really begin to transform into followers of Christ.
Think about the times God has spoken to you through the Bible, or a sermon, or in prayer. You know that what is happening is much more than simply your own thoughts tumbling around in your head. There is clarity of understanding, a new insight into the Scripture that sets your heart on fire, and causes your spirit to soar Godward. These are special precious times that speak deep into our psyche reminding us of the reality of God.
Many years ago when I pastured, the congregation that I belonged to rented a large modern brick church. It was my custom to meet with five or six friends half an hour before the church service to pray for the success of the service. We always met in the sanctuary and would spend the time in asking God to bring certain people to church, open up others hearts and allow the service to flow in such a way people would be blessed.
One day we had just begun to pray when the Spirit fell upon us, and the result was that our prayers took on a new urgency and power. We found ourselves pouring out our hearts to God with such emotion and awe that we were overwhelmed. Suddenly the building began to shake as if every window and brick in the building was moving. It was as if a mighty wind had poured through every door of the building and swirled relentlessly through the sanctuary. However, we felt no wind or chill, just the experience of the shaking of the building and then it was gone as fast as it had appeared.
We were not sure what had happened till the door of the church opened and someone came in. Of course our first questions to him was did you feel the wind, what is it like out on the street? His answer, “it is as calm as it can be.” Was it the presence of God making Himself known to us through our prayers? I believe it was, and that experience has been a transforming event in my Christian life.
Other times God speaks to us “in a still small voice.” My brother told me of numerous times when he worked in Hong Kong that he would be in meetings and everything would come to an impasse regarding certain problems. He would excuse himself from the meetings and go for a walk down the hall and ask God for the answers and every time a solution would pop into his head.
My challenge for each of us is to read and reread Ephesians 3:14, 16-19 and seek out God’s truth for us. Let your study and reading percolate in your mind and in your heart. Meditate upon what God is teaching you and ask yourself how can I apply these truths to my own experience. Suddenly you will realize that you are experiencing closeness with God that is opening up your heart to God’s suggestions and teachings.
This is the opening of God’s love being poured out to you. Go to God in prayer and talk to Him about the things He is teaching you through the Holy Spirit about the passage. You will be going beyond Bible study, meditating, or praying, you will be experiencing (knowing) God. You will be worshipping with all your heart and all your mind.
* The persecution of Christians has not stopped. If anything it’s increased. The main stream media doesn’t talk about it much anymore but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening. Pray and stay informed and inform others. Please take the time to read some of their stories at http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ there is much more on the internet…