If God can do more than all we ask or imagine, as he has already shown us in Jesus Christ his Son, it cannot but lead us to praise and to prayer.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
There is something startlingly re-orientating about Ephesians 3:20. Paul’s praise-filled outburst reminds me that whatever I bring to this verse on any particular day, whatever I come to the Bible thinking and feeling and believing about God, it is always limited. It is always too small, too narrow, too familiar… because he is the mighty, eternal God – and I am but one of his creatures.
He can do more than all I ask or imagine. I guess I think my imagination is capable of conjuring up almost anything! It is an imagination, after all. But even my imagination – that part of me that isn’t necessarily bound by reality or my ordinary limits – can’t even begin to reach for a vision of what our God can do.
And this incredible power is at work within us. It’s not just a brilliant power “out there” that we are left gaping at… no, it is a power that is knitted into the very fabric of our new selves. We are alive in union with Christ Jesus, who was raised from the dead by the same immeasurable power (Eph. 1:19), and by the power of the Holy Spirit who has given us life and gifts and who witnesses to us that we are God’s children. God’s power is in us, and it is for us – always working for our good. (Rom. 8:28)
I think this moves us to do two things:
It moves us to praise. As in several places in this beautiful letter, Paul’s praise seems unstoppable… the more he reflects on these things, the more the praise of God just spills out of him. If God can do all we ask or imagine, there will never be an end to the things he does that inspire awe, adoration, fear, and amazement in us as his creatures. He will always be radically “other” to us, and there will always be more to see and marvel at. And when such power is at work in us, there will always be more to thank and love him for, for the abundance of his goodness towards us.
It also moves us to pray. I shared recently in a Grow Daily that God has been challenging me to pray more expectant prayers. If the same power that raised Christ from the dead is at work in us, and if God can do more than all we could possibly ask – this seems a powerful prompt to pray… to press in to the infinite possibilities of the “more than all we ask or imagine” that God can and is willing to do.
C.S. Lewis famously said in The Weight of Glory:
It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.
Truly, we can’t even imagine what God might do through our prayers – for our joy, his glory, and for his kingdom. How might these verses invite you today, this week, to take even a small step or grow a habit of praying more regularly and more expectantly?
Prayer: I worship you today, heavenly Father, for you are beyond compare. Nothing is impossible for you, and you are worthy of all praise. Thank you for your power at work in and for me, especially in my Lord Jesus in whom I am saved and forgiven. Please teach me to pray with expectancy, because of who you are. And please show me ever more of yourself, for your glory and my joy. Amen.
A song to listen to: 10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord) – Matt Redman
Living Church – Springfield