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Prayer, Plain and Simple

“When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.”  (Ephesians 3:14-19)

It’s a good day to pause and talk to God about his favorite subject – love. Here’s a good place to begin.

“…May you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.”

There is no understanding love short of a power encounter with God. C.S. Lewis’s brilliant treatment, The Four Loves is a next-to-the-last-word on the subject. He claims that three of the four ancient Greek expressions of passion are natural to us, instinctive and genetically explainable:

  • Aros drives romance.
  • Storge expresses affection for the familiar.
  • Phileo compels camaraderie.

All are deep and powerful desires – at times wondrous, at times tyrannical.

Only the fourth love, Agape has no reasonable source within me, no natural survival benefit. Yet without it, my other passions morph into idols, enslaving, not fulfilling me. Only Agape looks beyond, to another’s interest. It is selfless choice – “Fighting for the highest possible good in another” and without personal benefit to me. Agape is either a miracle, or it is nothing at all. Yet without it, my natural love ceases to fulfill its purpose, corrupting me with distorted obsession.

Which is why Paul the Apostle models the prayer above. He is pleading for divine insight to know the full scope of God’s agape: “how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.” Do you notice anything strange about this description? Paul includes four, not three dimensions – wide, long, high, and deep. That fourth perspective – seeing the depth – is what takes the miracle. And miracles seem to take prayer. Which circles me back to my focus this month.

And so today I pray to know and understand the depth of God’s love which has no human correlation. Without it, I can’t be truly human. Yet I can’t know it from any human source. I need God to love me in order to know and then express it.

Reflection

Now would be a good time to pause and talk to God about his favorite subject – love.

Response

I pour over Ephesians 3:14-19. I let it pour over me. Believers have been borrowing these words and sending them to God for 2000 years. They are perfect precedent. I follow suit. Then, as John writes (I John 3:1), I will “See how great a love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God. And that is what we are.” When I ask to understand, and wait for the miracle, Love Himself appears.

 

 

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