Most of us have been praying different sorts of prayers all of our lives. We learned to pray as children and have been praying ever since. We pray for our food, for health and provision, for others, for the lost, and for things we want or even desperately desire.

We have learned to pray daily and repeatedly. But while most of us pray regularly, we have learned to pray very “tame” prayers.

In fact, we tend to see prayer as almost a formula by which we access God – sort of like the basic “call home” to make sure things are going okay or to let our spouse know we are on the way home.

It is amazing to me to see the amount of attention and space in the first three chapters of Ephesians that Paul gives to prayer for his readers. Almost one-third of the material in this section consists of the two prayers that Paul prays.

Let’s look at the second of these two prayers (Ephesians 3:14-21) – a prayer that is magnificent in its content and majestic in its character. A prayer that goes beyond the normal praying that so many of us are content to engage in when we pray.

Notice first of all that he says he “bowed his knees” during prayer. This was very unusual – something big is going on here.

There was an established normal posture for prayer in those days – standing. Paul was intentionally departing from that normal posture.

Why? Because he was praying and asking for something highly unusual. Kneeling symbolized his desperation, his humility, and his submission to God the Father.

Paul has a specific purpose of God in mind when he bows his knees to pray. God has already revealed that He is building a temple, and that He intends to inhabit that temple in all of His fullness (2:19-22). So, Paul is praying for the people who make up that temple to be “strengthened” or capacitated so that they can receive the fullness of God who wants to dwell in His temple.

Paul is going to pray that they would be fitted by God to receive the indwelling presence of Christ. He is going to pray that they would know the unfathomable love of Christ fully!

How will they know this? Only when the Holy Spirit reveals it to them by pouring it out in their life. He “sheds” the love of Christ abroad!

And he is going to pray even more. He is going to pray that they would know what God is doing – in all of its dimensions! And he is ultimately going to ask God to fill them with all His fullness!

How would we ever dare to pray this kind of a prayer for these kinds of things?

We scarcely dare to pray for our food and for things we need. How would we ever think to pray for the kinds of majestic and marvelous things Paul prayed for here?

How would we ever climb out of the sandbox of life up to the mountaintop where Paul is and pray this kind of bold prayer?

We can dare to pray this way because of who we are praying to!

We can pray this way when we believe what God has said about Himself in this text – no matter what the evidence to the contrary might seem to say.

What does this text tell us about God? He is able to do whatever you ask. But more than that – He can do whatever you think up. There is nothing too hard for God.

And He can do it abundantly. Exceedingly so! There are no limits for God – His power and capacity and ability are limitless! So anything that you could ask or think– God can do it exceedingly abundantly!

He is so powerful that you can’t think of something too hard for Him to do!

If you could ask God to change one thing about your life or circumstances that you have concluded is impossible and will never change, what would it be?

To be free from a sin pattern? To solve a relationship issue? To fix a family problem?

Here is what God says about that – “Your request is not too hard for me.  Think of something harder!” And after you think of something else, He again says, “That too is doable – think of something harder!”

We could do this all day until we reach the end of our ability to even think of anything more difficult – and we would not have exhausted God’s ability!

So if He has all the power to change the hard thing and He doesn’t, there must be a good reason why!

But let’s notice the difference between what you thought of and what Paul thought of when given the opportunity to pray a daring prayer!

When we think of the hardest thing, we usually think of something that is all about us and our miserably-little circumstances.

Paul thought in totally different ways. He was in circumstances much more miserable than ours. He was in prison and has called our attention to that fact multiple times in this epistle.

However, he sees right beyond the cell and prays a magnificent, majestic prayer – and that prayer is all about us! What he wants God to do for us!

He prays for himself – that God would dwell in him richly and that he would see and understand the dimension of what God was doing!

How different were his prayers than ours!

This is the difference between a Christian praying from the mountain top and a Christian praying who has never ventured out past the limits of the sandbox of normal, earthbound life.

Join Paul. Step out of the sandbox. Come up to the mountain. Let’s dare to pray powerful prayers to a God who is able!

Sam Horn

Posted by Sam Horn

Dr. Sam Horn is the EVP for enrollment and ministerial advancement at Bob Jones University in Greenville, SC. Prior to BJU, Sam served at Central Baptist Theological Seminary, Northland International University, and various churches in Minnesota, Wisconsin, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Sam and his wife, Beth, have two children - one is married and one is in high school.