Summary: Paul prays for the Church, he prays for us, and says God can do more than we ask for or imagine, and he prays for none of the things we may want or expect, nothing even in such categories. He prays we'll have power, knowledge of God and love.
Ephesians 3:14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
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.
If you could have anything you asked for, what would you ask? Money? Health & healing? Fame? Political power & influence? A Mercedes? What comes to your mind immediately? Paul prays for the Church, he prays for us, and says God can do more than we ask for or imagine, and he prays for none of these things, nothing even in such categories. First he prays we'll be given power.
Inner power and strength. We all want it. We all need it. But Paul's focus is not on inner strength to face the day, he is praying for the power for two things: to become the dwelling place for God, and to know His love. In a recent entry in the Star Wars spaceopera, the bad guys create a device that absorbs an entire star to power a weapon. With it they can destroy planets-tremendous destructive power. Imagine being able to absorb God. With Him we could bring healing to the nations-tremendous creative power. We live in a time of great peril. Global Climate change may be leading us to the 6th Great Extinction. With chemical, biological and nuclear weapons we have the ability to accelerate that process considerably. Ours is the generation that can either perpetuate the path to human destruction, or, possibly, prevent humanity's demise. We need the creative power of God now more than ever. But power without knowledge is dangerous.
I think as a species we have a great hunger for knowledge. School can beat it out of us, but by nature we are curious creatures. We want to know how things work. Paul wants us to know how God works. Knowledge and salvation are intertwined in the Bible. Jesus said "you will know the truth and the truth will set you free" (John 8:32). Jesus also said "I am the Way, the Truth & the Life and no one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). Knowing God is essential to long term, eternal salvation. And Paul wants us to know something which is unknowable-God's love. I think, maybe, it's unknowable for us because by nature we are not loving like He is. As Jesus taught, we have to have ears to hear and eyes to see. We can only know what we have the capacity within us to perceive. Knowledge as profound and encompassing as God's love requires a miracle of revelation.
When Paul talks of knowing God and knowing love, he uses the same word for knowledge-knowledge based on experience. Love is NOT a feeling, though it may produce feelings. Love is both action and experience. We know God loves us because He sent His only begotten son to die on the cross (John 3:16), while we were sinners Christ died for us-the ungodly (Romans 5:6-8). You know someone loves you, not when they express their feelings, but when they sacrifice for you. Paul wants us to know the full dimensions of God's love. His love is beyond our experience. Our world only requires 3 axes-x, y, & z coordinates, to represent hight, width and depth. Paul speaks of four: how wide, how long, how high & how deep is the love of God. His love goes beyond our dimensions of space and time. His love cannot be contained within our universe. Maybe this is part of the reason it is beyond our knowledge. Even those who know the math have trouble thinking in four or five dimensions. Our minds are not that big. But maybe it is our hearts that have to be expanded for this kind of understanding. If our heart understands, our mind will follow. The love of God cannot be known by mere calculation or cogitation. It must be known also by the heart. And our human heart requires a transplant before it has the capacity for that kind of knowledge.