In his sermon “Prayer That Moves God,” Dr. Stanley emphasizes the need to pray “fervently,” but what does that actually mean?
In Acts 12:5, Luke uses the word ektenós, a Greek term that means “properly, fully stretched,” “extended out to its necessary full potential,” or “completely taut.” It is used in only one other place in Scripture, 1 Peter 1:22, and interestingly, ektenés—the adjectival form (used only in 1 Peter 4:8)—is the root word for English terms like “tension” and “tense.” Think of a water balloon the split second before it ruptures. That’s the kind of tautness these Greek terms imply. Whatever their grammatical form or purpose, both point to a similar concept: the idea of completion.
The idea of being filled makes sense, considering that we are described in Scripture as “earthen containers” (2 Cor. 4:7; Jer. 18:1-6) and “temple[s] of the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 6:19). After all, these are both things that are meant to be occupied by something else! Also, in many places in the New Testament, believers are described as being “filled with the Holy Spirit” (Luke 1:67; Acts 2:4; Acts 4:8, Acts 4:31; Acts 13:9). Like that clay pitcher or holy space, we are waiting for something more, the unmistakable fervency only God’s Spirit can provide. But it isn’t reserved for prayer alone.
God’s inexhaustible abundance is ours to enjoy at all times, freely given without limitation.
Romans 15:13-15 (ESV) mentions fullness in several places (emphasis added throughout): God will “fill [us] with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit [we] may abound in hope.” Paul goes on to say that believers are “full of goodness” and “filled with all knowledge.” And to think that such inexhaustible abundance is ours to enjoy at all times, freely given without limitation!
In “The Hollow Men,” poet T. S. Eliot describes a desolate and despairing world reeling after the first world war. He opens with the lines “We are the hollow men / We are the stuffed men / Leaning together / Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!” In this world, rife with sadness and loss, it is easy to feel hopeless and utterly emptied out. However, those of us who know Christ and are known by Him experience the opposite. For when we are in Him, we experience true fullness and begin to understand just what’s possible in the power of the Holy Spirit.