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Inspired Prayer: Day 20

“Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
Ephesians 3:20-21

I had a theology professor who would sometimes cut short a lecture, lower the lights, and lead us students in worship. It is not unusual for Paul to sometimes cut short what he intended to say and melt into worship. Right after telling Timothy how “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the foremost” (1 Timothy 1:16), Paul cannot contain himself but bursts into worship: “To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen” (1 Timothy 1:18). After declaring to Roman Christians about the grace of God that saves sinners, Paul worships:

“O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?’ ‘Or who has given a gift to him, to receive a gift in return?’ For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen”

(Romans 11:33-36)

In today’s scripture, Paul characteristically crowns prayer with worship. After boldly interceding and asking for Christians to be filled up to all the fullness of God, Paul is sure that he has not asked for enough. Paul knows that by virtue of the power at work within us, God can still do so much more than Paul or we can ask or imagine. He understands that even such bold requests fall short of the greatness of God’s incomprehensible power.

Earlier in this Ephesian letter, Paul paused to pray that believers know experientially “what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe” (Ephesians 1:19). Paul identifies this available power God put “to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is in named, not only in this age but also in the age to come” (Ephesians 1:20-21).

Is it any wonder that Paul strains language, grasping for words, exulting in God’s power at work in us! Paul understands that having prayed for such incredible things his requests fall short of the reality of God. The extravagance of God’s power is beyond comprehension. “The limits of God’s power will not be reached until every soul is perfectly assimilated to that likeness and bears all its beauty in its face.” (Alexander Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture: Ephesians)

Remarkably, Paul knows by experience that God’s power is often experienced at the point of our greatest weakness. Thus, he can reassure the Corinthians about the release of God’s power in us: “God said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you for power is made perfect in weakness.’ So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me…for whenever I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9, 10).

As Paul thinks of the wonder and power of God, he can only worship: to God be glory forever and ever!


“Paul has asked much in this prayer, and thoughts can always travel beyond words, but the excess of God’s power beyond both was infinite.” Pulpit Commentary


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