What informs the way you pray for your kids?
Do you want to see them laughing, surrounded by kind and funny friends? To see them earn perfect grades, paint masterpieces, run passes, hold a steady job? Do you just want them to go to sleep for a good eight hours?
Those are all great things to pray for our kids, but let’s not set our hopes too low. Look how Paul prays for the Ephesian Christians in Eph 3:17b-21:
I pray that you, being rooted and firmly established in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of God’s love, and to know Christ’s love that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us —to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Paul is making such a big request that it is paradoxical—and, since his request is for us to understand God’s love, the paradox only underlines how big God’s love is.
The prayer begins by returning to the familiar image of Christians as plants. The Ephesians are rooted in God’s love, and Paul prays that they would grasp the scale of this love. But even as he’s praying that they would comprehend God’s love, Paul is emphasizing its size: “the length and width, height, and depth.”
God’s love for us (and for our families) is long and wide and high and deep. It’s not a little splash of medicine that heals or comforts only for a moment. It’s an ocean that quenches our thirst for eternity. How can we possibly comprehend it?
Paul makes this even clearer in the next line: “To know Christ’s love that surpasses knowledge.” How is it possible to understand something that surpasses knowledge? This paradox underlines how mysterious and immense God’s love is—it doesn’t fit into our finite minds.
How can we possibly understand a love that is so immense? How can we be filled with the fullness of the infinite, eternal God? And how is Paul able to pray this so powerfully only a few verses after talking about his afflictions on their behalf?
“Now to him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us.” That’s how we can understand, how we can pray powerfully despite afflictions—the same power that raised Jesus is at work in us. God’s mighty love is working in us and our kids and our spouse and our parents.
“To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”