A Valid Prayer Request (Colossians 1:9)
I have to admit that I both think and feel that I’m a dufus at prayer. I know I’ve got to depend on Scripture to know what to pray. That makes these prayer texts in the epistles so helpful. God wants me to pray this for sure. My confidence as I go to God becomes huge. And Paul talks about his prayer for these Colossians right here. So let’s listen and learn.
By praying, I can help people anywhere and everywhere by long distance. And Paul was a long ways away all the time from people he loved. But he’s always praying for them, therefore having an impact in their lives more than a social network. Prayer offers a beautiful multi-task. You can chew gum, walk, and pray at the same time.
You’ll notice in his letters that Paul prays for believers. I think we should get what we do in the Christian life from the Bible. That would be sort of like having the Bible be your sole authority for faith and practice. Paul doesn’t pray for unbelievers. You may reply, “So are you saying it’s wrong then?!?!” Good come back. Read the second and third sentences in this paragraph again before you continue. Now Paul didn’t really know the Colossians, but he was assured by Epaphras that they were a swell group of Christians there. They loved God. And that fact motivated Paul to pray for them all the time ever since he had heard it.
And Paul prayed for the sniffly nose of Jethro, for Balthus’ to get a promotion, and for Aunt Bernice’ arthritis to start feelin’ better. Nope. He didn’t mention any of those things. You may reply, “So are you saying it’s wrong then?!?!” Um. Go back up to the previous paragraph and read sentences two and three again. He did pray that those saints would be filled with the knowledge of God’s will.
So he prayed for the Colossian believers to learn what God’s will was? No. He prayed that they would be filled with the knowledge of it. The idea of the verb, “be filled,” is to be controlled by. That’s how it’s used in the New Testament. Paul desired and so prayed that the knowledge of God’s will would control them. He wanted them to do what God wanted them to do. That was his prayer request. Do you pray that for people? Are you actually controlled by the knowledge of God’s will? Hopefully someone will pray that on your behalf and you’ll pray it for others.
I want to pause to emphasize “knowledge” here. He’s praying that they will be controlled by knowledge, not by emotions. Unfortunately, a lot of churches try to foster emotions through their music, their programs, and even their evangelism. So many Christians do what they feel. God wants us to do something that we know. How do we know it? We know it by thinking about it. Let’s think through what God’s Word says about things and then do what He wants. The Holy Spirit is going to lead us through what we know, which is in our brain.
Just a brief connection to the larger context. He didn’t want them to be controlled by the false knowledge espoused by the local false teachers. He didn’t want the church’s behavior influenced by the Gnostics or the ascetics. The knowledge of God’s will would be something different than that crowd was teaching.
Paul adds a couple of descriptors at the end of the verse: “in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.” It’s not as though there is a kind of controlling knowledge of God’s will that won’t be in wisdom and spiritual understanding. The controlling knowledge will create in a person’s life wisdom and discernment. A person who is controlled by the knowledge of the Word of God will make the right decisions. He will assess situations properly. He will know what the proper use of his time is. He will handle his finances like he should. He will get done the activities that God wants him to. He will lead his family right. He won’t get sucked up or swayed by unscriptural movements and influences. In other words, he’ll make good applications of Scripture.
Do you get what this prayer encompasses? If so, good. Now let’s live it. And let’s pray it. All the time.