The Apostolic Prayer We Dare Not Forget

Map showing the ancient city of Ephesus

Map showing the ancient city of Ephesus

You and I have a dual mandate: to be lovers of God, and lovers of people.

It’s an incredible, all-encompassing mandate. It speaks to every sphere of life, and every relationship we have.

Several years ago, as I began to ask Jesus to source my obedience to this dual mandate, I began to pray an apostolic prayer. We find that prayer in Ephesians 3:14-21.

I have probably prayed this apostolic prayer 200 or 300 times. I have memorized it. I encourage you to memorize it if you’re serious because this is one of the source documents that points right at the resourcing of your life from the inside out.

This apostolic prayer couldn’t be any more explicit and it’s absolutely beautiful. Paul talks about the Gospel and lays it out to the Ephesians church. This is the same church we read about in the book of Revelation, which (sadly) had forgotten this prayer after a while.

Here is that powerful, essential, ongoing apostolic prayer: 

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, 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.

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 us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

If you’re struggling with God’s dual mandate for your life, I strongly encourage you to memorize this prayer. Keep praying this prayer. Paul is saying, I’m releasing the riches of God’s glorious resource into your life, to strengthen you with power in the inner man that Christ would dwell in your heart, that there would be this invasion in you to resource the experience of the love of God, and out of that love you’re going to be filled again, and when you’re filled again what’s going to happen? You can experience the resourcing that gives you the ability to fulfill the mandate.

We’re just like my 8-year-old friend Henry—most of us, anyway. Like him, I want to get the most heart function I can get. I don’t want to come to the end of life with the mandate unfulfilled in my life and experience. Instead, I want to go right into the next life without missing a beat because guess what everyone is doing in heaven? That’s right: loving God, and loving people.

Here is my prayer for you right now:

Father, we thank you. Thank you for your Son who is the healer of hearts. Thank you for your Son who is the resource for all of our obedience, the one who knows the way when we think there is no way. The one who knows how to cure, how to heal, how to do what no one else can do. He is the answer, He is the resource, and He is the prize. His name is Jesus. Amen.

 

Fulfilling the Mandate through the Journey of Heart Mapping

God wants us to have a whole heart

God wants us to have a whole heart

If you don’t have a whole heart, how can you obey the mandate to seek God wholeheartedly? The answer is, you can’t.

That’s why when I spend time talking about Heart Mapping, what I’m really talking about is Jesus laying out His agenda for healing your heart.

Jesus wants to source your obedience to this mandate to love God and to love people. He is after that relentlessly. It is the thing that connects us to Him and connects us to each other. Or to put it this way, a whole heart and a functioning heart is a prize to God. He loves wholeheartedness, but I want to tell you something. It’s good for you too. It’s a good thing when your whole heart is working. It’s enjoyable to have a fuller and fuller range of emotion

My friend, Henry, is 8 years old now, but he was born with about 50% or 60% of his heart. There were pieces missing. And so his doctors made a plan to build a heart that would work. The problem is, they couldn’t turn the thing on all the way because his little body couldn’t handle it. So, for the first 6 years of his life they keep the heart function slowed down, and if you watched Henry he was a pretty smart kid, he functioned, he got around, he did everything he was doing, but he was always a little tired. But there came a day when they turned it on fully and he has been at 110% ever since, and that’s on his slow days. On his fast days he is like 150%, 170%. He never slows down!

That’s what happens in our spirit life when God resources a wholeheartedness. It will bring an energy, and a resource, and a joy, and a delight, and a surprise to your experience, and yet for most of us we’re not even familiar with the process.

We need to get introduced to Jesus, this heart doctor guy, who understands how it works, who is trustworthy, who can get in there and do the work; who not only can heal you but he can train you to help others and begin to bring resources to others’ lives so that we can actually, in real-time, experience what God intended for his people to experience. He has always intended for us to have an experience of loving Him and loving one another. This always was His intent.

Committing to a Whole Heart: Prepping for Surgery

Master and Commander (2003)

Master and Commander (2003)

There is a compelling movie, with many compelling images, called Master and Commander (2003). There’s this scene where the surgeon of a ship gets shot and he takes a bullet right in the abdomen, right below the ribs. He is getting sicker and sicker and the only other person on the ship who knows anything about medicine is incompetent. So, he gets to the critical place where he is going to die if they don’t get the bullet out. So you know what he does? He makes himself the patient. He puts a mirror up and he has some assistance, but he does surgery on himself. He actually cuts his own abdomen open, reaches in with the forceps, and pulls out the bullet and does surgery on himself.

If you want to live the mandate of God, and you’re serious about it, there are going to be times when there are things inside of you which are limiting your obedience. It’s not that you lack understanding of what God wants to do. It’s that the inner resources of your life for one reason or another are limited, and God is going to have to open up those places and work on them and you will have to participate. He might put you under light anesthesia, but you’re going to be amazed at just how much you learn and there’s a reason why.

Because, it’s not just about you. Because, there comes a point in the journey when after you’ve been under the care of the master cardiologist, and He wants you to begin to partner and help other people with their broken hearts and so that is the process of becoming wholehearted because the Scripture says if you seek me with your whole heart, you’ll find me.

Well, what happens if your heart is broken and a piece of it is not working or it got lost somewhere? Or you gave your heart to something and someone stole a piece of you and you never got it back? What happens if somehow there is a fracture in your inner heart and pieces that were supposed to be connected got disconnected and it’s not working?

How can you obey the mandate to seek God wholeheartedly if you don’t have a whole heart?

The First Sermon Jesus Preached: Jesus the Heart-Surgeon

Jesus heals all including the brokenhearted

Jesus heals all including the brokenhearted

When Jesus goes to preach His first sermon, He opens up the Scripture and it’s about Him. He reads from Isaiah 61, which says:

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, / because the Lord has anointed me / to proclaim good news to the poor. / He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, / to proclaim freedom for the captives / and release from darkness for the prisoners…

What’s in that first “He has sent me” statement about the good news? It’s to bind up the brokenhearted. Because in Jesus definition of the good news, it meant that God was going to source your obedience to His mandate. He is going to get inside of the process, and He is going to source your obedience to His mandate.

In other words, you’re not like Abraham Lincoln, who was left pretty much by himself to figure it out.

Jesus could say, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:31-32)

God is going to actively enter into the process and source your obedience to His mandate from the inside out. Jesus said He was going to bind up the brokenhearted.

This is how my inner conversation goes: I am now a student of cardiology. I’m a student of cardiology, and as I become a student of cardiology, guess who is the primary patient? Me. Now, so I’m both an understudy, but I’m also the patient. So as we are learning this fine art of Jesus binding up the brokenhearted, as we are learning the mystery of Him uniting my heart to fear His name and to do all these wonderful heart things, to write His law. I’m the patient, I’m the understudy. I am watching Him and participating with Him as He does surgery on me.