Paul’s Prayer: To Grasp God’s Love


In his commentary on Ephesians, Harold W. Hoehner wrote: “[T]he purpose of Ephesians is to promote a love for one another that has the love of God and Christ as its basis. Paul approaches this very carefully because forced love is not genuine love. He uses the example of God’s and Christ’s love to the human race in general, and to believers in particular, which serve as the basis of the believers’ love for one another. This provides the basis for unity.”

Another of Paul’s prayers was for the Ephesians to grasp how high and wide and deep and long is the love of Christ. In light of God’s purpose and plan in salvation, he knelt before God in reverence (v. 14). He knew that because God is our Father (pater), the family (paternitas) of God can pray with confidence on the basis of the close relationship brought about by Christ (v. 15).

In this confidence, and aware of God’s infinite resources, Paul prayed for inner spiritual strength and power for the Ephesians, “so that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith” (v. 17). This kind of power is transforming and sanctifying! He also prayed that they, “being rooted and established in love,” would gain an ability to understand the incalculable vastness of God’s love (vv. 18–19; see Rom. 8:35–39). Yet he admitted that no one can fully know this—such love “surpasses knowledge.” He still prayed as he did, though, because God is the God of the impossible.

Paul anticipated that the result of his prayer would be that the Ephesians would be “filled to the measure of all the fullness of God”—that is, that we would be filled with God’s love, not to our own capacity but to His capacity.

Apply the Word

In Paul’s day, people customarily stood to pray, but here he kneels in prayer, overcome by emotion in response to the breathtaking love, power, and wisdom of God in the unfolding story of the gospel. Try praying in different postures—sitting, kneeling, or standing. How might your body language in prayer today reflect a heart filled with worship?

BY Brad Baurain

Dr. Brad Baurain has worked as a writer or editor for Today in the Word since 1993. Currently, he serves as associate professor and TESOL program head at Moody Bible Institute. Brad has the unique privilege of holding a degree from four different universities (including Moody). He has also taught in China, Vietnam, the United States, and Canada. Brad and his wife, Julia, have four children and reside in Munster, Indiana.

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