As someone who struggles with anxiety and overanalyzing, I can quickly start beating myself up. In these moments, my affection for Jesus wanes. My eyes turn from God’s grace toward me. I don’t deserve God’s love, I may tell myself, but fail to also remind myself of the love God has shown me through Christ. It’s in these times that I need passages like Ephesians 3:16-19, passages that cause me to reflect on the glories of God’s grace.
I pray that he may grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with power in your inner being through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know Christ’s love that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Eph. 3:16-19)
When I read this passage, I am struck by the way Paul expressed what he does in this passage. His prayer is grounded in the Word, in the story of redemption, for the purpose of seeing people lives transformed by that grace. And as I read it, I am reminded of what God has done for me. I’m also reminded of how Paul’s pastoral prayer many years ago for the Ephesians is still relevant for me.
In Ephesians, Paul spends the first three chapters explaining what Christ has done in His death, burial, and resurrection. Then in the last three chapters, he teases out the implications for how Christians are to live in light of this teaching. This passage has always been a powerful biblical text for me. In it, Paul prays that we can know the depths and riches of God’s love.
The expression “the fullness of God” in this passage indicates how His sovereign power is directed by His divine mercy. When you and I grasp how the love of Christ surpasses knowledge, we are filled up with divine power that has the ability to transform our world for his sake. Love for Christ drives out love for the things of the world. And our love for Christ must first spring from an awareness of his love for us.
God’s grace is not only for heaven; it is for now, as he sustains us now in the daily grind of life. To paraphrase C.H. Spurgeon, we have a great need of Christ today and a great Christ for our need. The Lord has given you all you have and He alone is utterly sufficient and all you truly need. You are His, and He is yours. I need that reminder on days when my affection for Jesus is waning, as well as on days when anxiety flares up, when I’m overanalyzing, or when I beat myself up.
Whether you are a kid’s ministry worker, a ministry leader, a pastor, a stay at home mom or your role is something different; this prayer has meaning for you. When we understand how secure, great, and powerful is the love of God, the response of our hearts—now full of more love for him we will desire to join with him in the walk of faith to which he calls us. Paul’s burden of joy for the Ephesians is that they would grasp how great Christ’s love for them is so that his fullness would empower them.
Dave Jenkins (M.A.R., M.DIV) is the Executive Director of Servants of Grace Ministries, and a podcaster, writer, editor, and speaker based in Caldwell, Idaho. Find him on Twitter at @DaveJJenkins or Facebook. Today’s post is part of our series, Beholding Jesus. Read other posts in the series here.