Praying like Paul: A closer look at Colossians 1:9-14

I am currently serving as a summer intern at Pine Level Free Will Baptist Church. One of my responsibilities is to preach through Colossians on Sunday evenings. For the next few weeks I will be posting a weekly review of some key element of my sermons. I hope these posts encourage you in your Christian pilgrimage.

As Christians we all know that we should pray. We even have special services called prayer meetings. There is a great deal of conversation about prayer. We all seem to recognize that prayer flows from a relationship with our Creator, yet we sometimes struggle with the practice of prayer. Maybe we just need a refresher on how the early church and the apostles prayed. Paul prayed specifically for the church at Colossae. This is fascinating in light of the fact that he first heard about this church through Epaphras. (1:7)

Paul often prayed for the churches within his scope of influence. His prayer for the Colossians is what we want to think about today.

[9]  For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; [10]  that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; [11]  strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; [12]  giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. [13]  He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, [14]  in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:9-14 (NKJV)

There are four key themes in Paul’s prayer for the Colossians:

1.) A prayer that the church would be filled with the knowledge of the Father’s will. (v.9)

We love this prayer. “Lord, just let your will be done.” We should pray this way because our Teacher prayed to the Father in this manner. Even so, sometimes Christians pray about God’s will as if it is a mysterious thing. God’s will is revealed to us in his word as well as the person and work of Christ. False teachers believed in obtaining a superior knowledge that would enable them to transcend the material world. Paul’s argument is that true knowledge is found only in the context of a relationship with the creator. True knowledge of God’s will drastically changes the way we live our lives.

We too can pray that other believers would be filled with knowledge concerning God’s will. With lives at stake we should intentionally pray that other believers will grow in their understanding of God’s will. This really is a prayer that others will mature spiritually. I don’t know about you, but I certainly appreciate people praying that I will know His will so that I can love Him more fully.

2.) A prayer that the Christians would walk worthy of the Gospel. (v.10)

The Lord himself said, “To whom much is given, much is required.” (Luke 12:48) Those of us who have been entrusted with Christ’s liberating message are to a greater decree of accountability. How do we walk worthy of the Gospel? Paul tells us that to walk worthy is to be fully pleasing to our Savior and to bear fruit. Paul’s point is that faith is worthless if it does not change the way we live. Our worth is found in Christ alone, but there remains an impetus for us to live a transformed life. Christ paid much to high a price for us to treat grace cheaply.

When we pray we should pray that Christ through the Holy Spirit will help us grow in our holiness. This is not only a prayer we pray for ourselves, but also a prayer we pray for other believers. We need each other’s prayers because it is not easy to be holy. There is no greater encouragement in pursuing holiness than knowing that brothers and sisters in Christ are praying for our success.

3.) A prayer that Christians would be strengthened by Christ’s power. (v.11)

The great feat of Christianity is that God doesn’t expect us to do it on our own. We do need to strive for holiness, but we recognize that God in Christ provides the strength and endurance we need to become more like him. Our creator and redeemer takes an active role in restoring us to the Father. We don’t pursue a more mature spirituality by relying on our own talents and abilities. We pursue maturity by relying on Christ’s power. There is none greater than Christ anyway.

God will make his presence known when his children are actively seeking it. The next time you pray for fellow Christians you should pray that God will supply strength for their various situations. As I write this post, I can’t help but think of Josh and Lydia Provow. They have been struggling to get their visas so that they can serve in Bulgaria. Josh and Lydia, I am praying that you find strength in God’s power. He is able to work this out for his glory as well.

4.) A prayer that joy would permeate every aspect of the believer’s life. (vv.11-12)

Paul prayed that the Colossian believers would be strengthened with all joy and patient endurance. He wrote this letter while he was in prison. Paul possessed an unimaginable joy based on his union with Christ. He prayed that the Colossian Christians would find deep joy in Christ.

Christians should be the most joyous people on the planet. This is not a false joy that is characterized by positive thinking. Every day is not a Friday, no matter how much we would like to convince ourselves that this is true. Even so, Christ’s work on our behalf should bring a new joy to our lives. What exactly has Christ done for us?

Paul answers that question in verses 12-14. The Father has qualified us to be heirs of the promise. He has set us free from darkness. He has invited us into the kingdom of Christ. He has released us from sin’s curse and God’s wrath. He has forgiven us for every and I mean every evil dead. Wow!

When we pray for others we must pray that they will find joy in Christ. As we await the hastening day of our Lord’s return we need only rest in the joy of the Lord. Joy in Christ will give us renewed strength as we continue on this journey. After all, the joy of the Lord is our strength. (Nehemiah 8:10)

An Example to follow

The apostle Paul has left us a great example of how we should pray. No matter who we are praying for, we can pray that they will be filled with the knowledge of God, that they will walk worthy of the Gospel, that they will rely on God’s strength, and that they will have joy. Implement these principles into your prayers and the kingdom of God will advance through Christ’s transforming power.

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