A Prayer for the Church - Colossians 1:9-14
Most Christians are quick to acknowledge the importance of prayer. More specifically, most agree that we should faithfully pray for one another and for the church as a whole. But while we know that we should pray, the question is, do we? How often do we pray for one another and the church?
An important follow up question is this: When we do pray for one another, what is the primary focus of our prayers? What are the things that we focus on most in our prayers for one another?
As we come to Colossians 1 we have the opportunity to listen in as Paul describes the way he prays for the Colossians and what He is asking God to do in and through them. As we read the contents of Paul’s prayers it should encourage us to consider the kinds of prayers we pray and evaluate the content of our own prayers for the church and for one another.
Paul’s Commitment to Prayer (1:9a)
- Before considering the content of Paul’s prayer it’s important recognize his commitment to prayer. Although Paul has never met the church at Colossae he tells them that he has prayed for them without ceasing. His prayers for them are faithful and ongoing.
- Application: If Paul is this committed to praying for a church whom he has never met (and may never meet) how much more should we be committed to praying for those around us – for those in the church who we see week in and week out?
Paul’s Prayer for the Colossians: A Prayer for Knowledge (1:9b)
- The first part of Paul’s prayer for the Colossians is a prayer for knowledge. He wants them to be filled or completely full of the knowledge of God’s will.
- God’s Will –When Paul speaks of the will of God in this context he’s referring to the general desires and expectations that God has for all people as revealed in His Word. He wants the Colossians to understand what God has called them to and what God expects of them, and this is the same thing He desires and expects for every believer: That we would know Him, seek to obey Him in every way and grow in maturity (sanctification) (1 Thessalonians 4:3a).
- Spiritual Wisdom and Understanding – Paul doesn’t simply pray that the Colossians would know the will of God, he also wants them to be able to apply the will of God to their lives – this is the function of wisdom and understanding.
Paul’s Prayer for the Colossians: A Prayer for Worthy Living (1:10-14)
- While Paul’s first request is for knowledge, he doesn’t desire knowledge for the sake of knowledge. He wants the Colossians to know and understand the will of God so they can apply it and thereby walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him.
The Characteristics of a Worthy Walk
- Bearing Fruit in Every Good Work (vs. 10b) – The New Testament often uses the imagery of bearing fruit as a sign of health and growth. Those who are ‘walking worthy’ are those whose lives are marked by the fruit of good works (John 15:5, 8-9; Galatians 5:22-24).
- Growing in the Knowledge of God (vs. 10c) - The only way we are ever going to be people who are fully pleasing to God is to give ourselves completely to knowing Him. There is nothing that demands a higher priority than this (Jeremiah 9:23-24). The primary way we grow in the knowledge of God is through the study of His Word.
- Strengthened by God for Endurance (vs. 11) – A life that is pleasing to God cannot be lived in one’s own strength; the strength must be supplied by God. It is only through His power that endurance is possible.
- Thankful to God His Work of Salvation (vv. 12-14) – The most basic characteristic of living a ‘worthy life’ is that the person is a part of God’s family. Along those lines, the person who walks worthy will be a person of gratitude for God’s work of salvation. Paul describes three significant aspects of our salvation: Our inheritance, our transference and our redemption.
Application: Paul’s example of prayer should cause us evaluate both our commitment to praying as well as the content of our prayers. As we pray we should desire that those around us and the church as a whole would grow in the knowledge of God’s will and in the ability to apply that knowledge to living a life worthy of the Lord.