Pray with Kingdom Purpose
We're coming to the end of this extended meditation on Ephesians 3:14-21. Of course I haven't done it justice. I've been pulling a few prayer-lessons out of it, and these seem to have been helpful to others with whom I've shared them, by the grace of God. As I've been writing these posts, I have continually felt the directing hand of God, as if this is exactly what I needed to be musing on, writing about, sharing.
Anyway, now we come to the great "so that," the most exciting conjunction in all of Scripture! Whenever you read "so that," you should know that a purpose statement is coming. In this passage, Paul's "so that" comes right in the middle of verse 19. It is a simple one-word conjunction in the Greek, rendered simply "that" in many translations, and bearing the sense, "in order that."
So when Paul prays that the Ephesians would know the breadth and width and height and depth of the love of Christ, it is "in order that" something might happen to them. In other words, there is a consequence to such knowledge. In this case, the consequence is that God would fill them.
It was Paul's passion not only to make Christians by preaching the Gospel in season and out, but afterward to equip those Christians. He wanted every believer under his care to grow, to mature, so that they might not only be blessed, but bless others. Not only receive, but give. Not only learn, but teach. Not only be healed, but heal. And to do these things, they would have to remain rooted in the love of Christ, growing continually in the experiential knowledge of that love, receiving the enlightenment of the eyes of their hearts so that they could perceive what the Spirit is doing on the earth and join in. This, in a nutshell, is being "filled to the measure."
Is it not amazing that God wants to fill us? That God desires to place us strategically in the battle-lines of his great army, to use us for the taking back of creation from the reign of the enemy? What I am suggesting is, this little conjunction, "so that," is like a pinhole in the circus tent. Put your eye to the tiny hole and a vast panorama opens to view. It is no circus, though. It is the panorama of God's sovereign purpose on the earth.
Christian, God wants you to be filled with what he has to give you, and filled to the measure that he has ordained. He has placed you strategically in a home, a workplace, a town, for his purposes. He wants you to pour out what he pours in, to empty yourself daily in the mission and purpose he has prepared for you from the beginning of time. To wield the sword of the Spirit, to pray diligently for the lost in your circle of acquaintances, to love everyone. None of this is possible in your own power. Just as you were born "from above," you must be filled "from above." And this filling is closely associated, intimately bound up with, the recurring experience of the awesome love of God in Christ Jesus. Oh Christian, such is the fruitful and life-generating and grace-filled love that God has for you.
Although Paul does not says so here, it is my conviction that "the measure" he refers to in verse 19 is the portion that He has decreed for you this day. In other words, this measure is not the same from one person to another or from one day to another. It is the portion, the "measure," necessary for you to face what you're facing today. And God would have you filled to that measure.
In the last three chapters of Ephesians, immediately following this prayer, Paul himself unpacks the meaning of "filled to the measure." Live as children of light, he says. Imitate God. Live lives of love. Let thankfulness be the burden of your speech. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord. Respect one another. Put on the armor of God and do battle (because, I might add, the battle is going to come to you whether you like or not). In another epistle he says famously, "offer your bodies as a living sacrifice."
So prayer-lesson #4 is simply this: Pray with a Kingdom purpose in mind. Pray the plans and purposes of God in the lives of those for whom you pray. Pray not simply for the solution to problems, but pray with the knowledge that God wants do far more than solve problems. He wants to use us. He wants to fill each of us with a measure of spiritual-gifting that is absolutely necessary for us to fulfill all that He has purposed in our lives. So pray in allignment with the ultimate Kingdom-purposes of God.
Now, as I said at the start, I realize I have not done this matter justice. No one can. But I do believe that God has spoken to me through this passage and I have attempted to share it with you as best I can. Every blessing that God gives is meant to be shared, after all. I'll probably be moving on to other things now, but I simply pray that you, reader, have also been blessed by these musings. In the mighty name of Jesus, amen.