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When Leaders Pray, Week Six
by Tom Goodman
June 5, 2008

We're taking a few weeks in LeaderLines to go through some of the prayers the Apostle Paul expressed for his people in his letters.  These prayers can serve as a valuable guide in your own prayers.

Two weeks ago we began to look at the prayer recorded in Ephesians 3:14-21.  Paul asked God to give the Ephesian believers two things: God's power and God's loveVerses 16-17 record his request for power, and we looked at those verses last week.  Now take a look at his request for God's love in verses 17-19:

I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge -- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Take note of two words in those verses: to grasp and to know.  He prayed that they would grasp God's love and know God's love.  He prayed that they would appreciate it with their minds and appropriate it with their lives.

It's the same thing church leaders must pray for those we serve:

First, pray that those you serve gain a deeper appreciation of God's love.  If we want to pray for our people as Paul prayed for those he led, we'll pray verse 17 for them:  "I pray that you... may have power to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ."

What made him think of those measurements of Christ's love?  Maybe Paul had in mind Psalm 139:
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
If I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.

So, maybe Paul was saying, "I pray that every day you live you will grasp the profound truth of Psalm 139.  You can rise on the wings of the dawn and race at the speed of light to the far side of the sea, and you will not outrun the width and length of Christ's love.  You can go up to the heavens and not rise above the heights of Christ's love.  You can make your bed in the depths and not dig below the reach of Christ's love."

Or maybe Paul had in his mind an image of the cross, stretched out to cosmic dimensions.  The width and length and height and depth of Christ's love was demonstrated in this:  While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  Maybe Paul was saying, "I pray that every new day, every new crisis, every new experience, you can more firmly grasp just how much Jesus loves you."

Second, pray that those you serve will gain a better appropriation of God's love.  To pray like Paul, you'll want those you serve not only to meditate upon God's love but to live in the joy and freedom it brings.  And so he prays, "God, let them not only grasp it but also know this love that surpasses knowledge!"

  • For the Christian struggling against some sin, know this:  "Jesus loves you, and he will forgive you and raise you up when you fall."
  • For the perfectionist who secretly believes that acceptance comes only by achievements, know this:  "Jesus loves you; he chose you before the foundation of the world, let alone before you ever achieved a thing for him.  He will never let you down."
  • For the person working through some crisis, know this:  "Jesus loves you, and he will walk you through this."

As your pastor, my prayer is that every new day, every new experience, every new crisis will simply be a way for you to more firmly grasp and more deeply know the divine love that surpasses knowledge.  As someone who serves Hillcrest with me, join me in that prayer for our church!


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