I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Several years ago I became aware of my need to know more about prayer; I turned to the prayers of the apostle Paul for help. Paul’s prayers help me to go in prayer where I have never dared to go. Paul’s way of praying shows me that my prayers are way too small, too puny. I don’t ask God for enough!
The old Scots preacher Alexander MacLaren says to this fourth petition in Paul’s prayer of Ephesians 3: “It soars to the very Throne of God. There can be nothing above or beyond this wonderful petition…And yet Paul’s prayers are God’s promises.” The sainted apostle leads us in praying just the kind of prayers God so yearns to hear and to answer for us! Like the ascending steps of a staircase Paul’s petitions take us to the very summit of prayer: “I pray…that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Perhaps you, like me, had never thought to pray for something so bold and so grand!
I read this last petition and I have to wonder: “How can finite contain the infinite!” “How can mortals be willed with all the fullness of God!” I think of Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the temple, and I have to wonder: “Even in heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, much less this house that I have built!” (1 Kings 8:27).
We saw last week that the love of Christ for us is beyond comprehension, and today we are again praying for something beyond comprehension. But it all has to do with the wonder of the incarnate Christ living in us as we live in Him (John 14:20). Paul tells us in his letter to the Colossian Christians that “in Christ the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” (Colossians 2:9). And in John’s Gospel we read of Christ, “From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace” (John 1:16). All the fullness of God is available to us in Christ!
As I reflect on this petition to be filled with all the fullness of God, I am picturing a balloon. As I exhale, blowing air into the balloon, it is at every moment filled but at every moment expanding. So the presence of Christ in us fills us every moment to the capacity of our spirits, and, at the same time keeps growing us, expanding us.
Now I am thinking of another image, an empty glass being filled from the fullness of a pitcher of water. The fullness of the pitcher not only fills up the glass, but the fullness fills the glass to overflowing. This is what happens as we are filled with the fullness of God. We are not only filled, but we are filled even to overflowing. The fullness of God’s love and goodness in us overflows onto those around us! Let us pray to live full lives in all the fullness of God who dwells in us!
Lest you think we are asking God for too much, Paul goes on in the following verse to remind us: “Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish far more than all we can ask or imagine…” (Ephesians 3:20).
Please join me this week in praying for ourselves and then for others this incomparable prayer:
“I pray….that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
Grace and peace,