I think Ephesians 3:20 is often misinterpreted and misused as a trite proof text.
We are quick to ask God to “do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” Eugene Peterson phrases it like this, “God can do anything, you know — far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!”
If people understood the theological implication of sacrifice that this request for “more” requires of them, they might not ask for it so casually.
Praise, not prosperity
This verse is often, mistakenly, applied through the lens of our western understanding of “more” – a desire for greater personal fulfillment and material prosperity. However, when we exegete Paul’s motive behind the meaning of the “more” he is asking for, we truly understand the principle he is trying to convey.
Motive: something that causes a person to act in a certain way or do a certain thing. An incentive – a goal or object of a person’s actions.
More means less
Paul’s motive in appealing to God’s ability to do more is not selfish. It’s actually a beautifully humble cry to bring more souls to a saving knowledge of Jesus (Ephesians 3:8-9). Paul is longing for more people – people from every nation, tribe, and tongue – to be introduced to the immeasurable grace of Christ through the message of the Gospel. It’s a humbling prayer to pray, because it requires the requester to go to a very low place to ask this of the Lord.
Asking for trouble
The expansion of the Gospel always comes with sacrifice. When we ask for more, we do so knowing it comes at a cost. The “more” described in Ephesians 3:20 is contingent on the willingness of God’s people to surrender something. It could be time, money, pride, or the safety of yourself and your family. This prayer ought to be uttered with deep sobriety and thoughtfulness understanding the cost and need for complete devotion to the mission.
Christ’s motive becomes our motive
At OneHope, we pray this dangerous prayer in echo to Paul’s original appeal. “God’s Word Every Child” is our rally cry for more. We see the power of God’s Word leap forth, and it motivates us to ask for more – more children who will hear God’s Word.
My dad and I used to talk about impacting thousands, or even millions, of young people with the Gospel. Now, we talk about billions! God has given us so much more than we asked or imagined. Now, with Vision 2030–a plan to reach every child on the planet with the Gospel – we are lifting up this prayer: “God can do anything, you know – far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!”
We pray these dangerous prayers in humility at OneHope. We have factored the risk, counted the cost, and submitted to the sacrifice it requires.
Will you join us in praying this dangerous prayer for “more” to be added to the Kingdom of God? God can do anything. Are we willing to ask for it? While I don’t know what “more” means for you personally, I encourage you to pray this prayer in your own life. Consider what you are willing to ask for – and sacrifice – to advance Kingdom work through yourself, your family, and your church, and expect that He will, indeed, do “immeasurably more.”