God can do more than we ask or think, but what is the context of that?

Ephesians 3:16-21 

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy peopleto grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen

Ok, many things to tackle here. First of all, if you are like me, many Christians have used the verse above, verse 20, when it says God can do more than we could ever ask or think, and they have used that to say, “see, God can do more than we can ever ask or even think, so think big, dream big, go all out because God can do more than that”. I say, yes, that is true, but is that the context of this verse? I answer that by saying no, and I will dissect it here. But before I do, if you have also been like me, Christians have used verse 20 as a means to say, “see, if God can do more that we ask or think, than believe God for houses, cars, riches, wealth, being a multi-millionaire” etc. Prosperity preachers have used this verse to propagate that teaching for years. But I will show, that is not the context either, and therefore, it is false. And here is why: 

  1. First off, there is a context in all scriptures and this text is no different. Where does it say in these versus, cars, houses money, etc.? It is not in there. So that would be infusing that into the text when it never says that, which violates the rules of biblical interpretation, which we are not allowed to do. 
  2. Secondly, were does it say dream big, have the American dream, the bigger you dream, God can do it even bigger that that. Granted, God can, but where does it say that is the context of verse 20? It doesn’t. So, when it says God can do more than we ask or even think, I say, “doing more than we ask or think as it pertains to what”? I’m glad you asked, and it is in context to what I put in bold before it. So, the doing more than we ask or even think is pertaining to: 
    1. He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being. 
    2. Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. 
    3. Being rooted and established in love.  
    4. may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people 
    5. To grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. 
    6. To know this love that surpasses knowledge— 
    7. that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 
  3. Are you seeing that? So, the doing more than we ask or even think pertains, or is referring to, the seven things that I listed above. So, Paul is referring that those things here. So, the doing more than we ask or even think pertains to what is listed above. Now, God can give us houses and stuff, true, but this verse is not a guarantee it will always happen. So, just because God can, does not necessarily mean that He will. He is not our genie in a bottle, that is not how prayer works anyway. That is why context is so very important.  
  4. Now why is that important? Because when we pray we should pray God does these things for believers and do it more than we can ask or think as it pertains to these things listed above. See, that changes our prayer life because we have been praying God bless us more than we ask or even think as it pertains to jobs, money, promotions, etc., which are ok, and are not bad in and of itself, and I’m not against Christians being blessed, but when was the last time you prayed God would do more than we ask or even think in the things that are listed here? When was the last time you prayed for a believer, say, “to know the love of God that surpasses knowledge”? Have you ever prayed that for a fellow believer? If not, then I think it shows we have been praying and using this verse incorrectly for years and it’s time to make some changes in our prayer lives. When we preach it correctly, this totally changes our prayer lives!  
  5. Lastly, look at verse 21. It says Paul prayed this so it brings glory in the churches AND glory be and to Christ Jesus. So, the entire point of Paul’s prayer here was glory to the entire body of Christ AND Christ Himself! It was never just for me or my glory! Totally and completely wrong context! So, when we preach it just so we can get stuff, it totally and completely misses the mark. Anyway, with that, I will stop for today, be blessed!  

Closing Prayer 

Lord, forgive us for using this verse out of context. Therefore, I’m going to now pray the very prayer Paul prayed for the church in Ephesus to know: so I pray the very same thing. Lord, I pray: 

  • That You strengthen all believers with power through his Spirit in our inner being. 
  • Christ may dwell in all believers’ hearts through faith. 
  • That all believers, be rooted and established in love.  
  • That all believers grasp how wide, and long, and high, and deep, is the love of Christ. 
  • That all believers know this love that surpasses knowledge—that we may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 

In Jesus’ name, Amen!

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