Finishing his prayer for the Ephesians, Paul praises God and thanks Him for the work that He will accomplish in His church. It is clear in Paul’s mind that when God fulfills all of the things that Paul prayed for, then God would answer them and then God would be glorified. We first see that Paul believes that God would answer these prayer requests in verse 20. Here Paul refers to God as “him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.”
Paul’s prayer was very far-reaching in its appeal for God’s help. In verse 16, he asked God to bless the Ephesians with the “riches of his glory,” and strengthen them with His Spirit. It was not merely enough to ask God for a little bit of help and a little bit of wisdom, Paul wanted the believers to be equipped with the very best God had to offer. So he prayed for the “riches” of God’s glory. This speaks of God’s abundance and His ability to bless in overflowing grace in our lives. Paul further asked for God to empower the believers with the Holy Spirit. In his petition, Paul prayed that God will strengthen “with might” by His Spirit. It is not merely a dabbling of help or an inkling of strength that he has in mind, but that the omnipotence of the Almighty might flow through the Spirit of God into the life of the believer. Paul prayed big. But he only prayed big because he had a big God who could answer his prayers.
In Paul’s far-reaching appeal for God’s help, he additionally asked that God would grow the believers in the love of Christ. Again, using the extent of his vocabulary to describe the depth and breadth of God’s working in establishing the believers in love, Paul prays that they might be “rooted and grounded.” This is not “help them to love on the weekends while they are at church.” Rather, “let them live lives that are marked by an overwhelming empowering of the Holy Spirit to love those around them at all points.” This was a big prayer, asking God to accomplish something that was supernatural in the hearts of the believers.
As Paul finishes his prayer, we reminded of why Paul could pray such big things. Back to verse 20, because God is “him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.” Wow! If Paul had merely said, “Him who is able to do what we ask,” that would be impressive. In that estimation, the extent of our minds would be the furthest reach of God’s goodness and power. If we could ask it, He would have the power to answer it. But Paul reminds us that God is so much greater than us. Our minds are limited, and at times, even when we ask God for something, he has an answer that is so much bigger than anything we could have ever asked or even thought.
Seeing the limitless magnitude of God’s goodness and grace, demonstrated in His immense power to answer prayer, we should join in Paul by saying, “unto Him be glory in the church.” This empowering, and enriching, and rooting and grounding in love, should be so prevalent in the church that when people look at the church, God looks good. That when people meet Christians, they see this massive work of God in their lives and are blown away by the magnitude of accomplishment that God has caused in them. Paul prayed for the believers in Ephesus to receive this mighty work of God, and we would be foolish to pray for anything less. We should also be encouraged that when we pray, we are praying to the one who answers our prayers in ways that are above what we could have ever asked or thought. Not only will he answer our prayers, but to the glory of His name, he will answer them in the best ways possible.
Reflect: What does the phrase “is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” mean to you?