DUNCAN/A prayer for all of life
Please turn in your Bible to Colossians 1:9-14. When Paul was in prison, he had received a report from Epaphras about the faith and the hope and the love which was growing in the church at Colossae. In this passage, the Apostle Paul gives us an outline of his prayer for the Colossians in response to that report from Epaphras. And there are four great truths that we see in this prayer for the Colossians. First, we see that every spiritual work is a motivation to prayer. Secondly, we observe that every believer must be filled with true knowledge. Thirdly, we see that every believer must be filled with real power. Fourthly and finally, we observe that the believer must be moved to thanksgiving.
I. Every Spiritual Work Is A Motivation To Prayer
In verse 9, Paul says, “for this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will.” Paul understands that every spiritual work done by the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers is an encouragement for us to pray for them. So often our prayer is in response to disaster or affliction, and, of course, that is entirely appropriate. But Paul’s logic also drove him to prayer when he saw God at work. And that is particularly important for us, because we don’t tend to think that way. Normally, when things are going well, we are tempted not to pray, to put it on autopilot, and to cease to pray faithfully for ourselves and for our brothers and sisters. But this is not so for Paul. When Paul sees God at work, that is an impetus to prayer. Why? Because Paul knows that prayer is the instrument which God has ordained to bless His people through. Paul knows when he sees God at work, that is a sign that he needs to go to prayer. Paul’s example for us reminds us that we must attend to prayer, not only in the hard times, but especially in the times where spiritual work is going on, that the work of the Spirit might continue and increase.
II. Filled With True Knowledge
In verses 9-10, we see the content of Paul’s prayer. The first thing that Paul prays for is that they would be filled with a true knowledge. Paul wants them to increase in the true knowledge of God, which is consistent with the gospel that has already been preached. He desires for them a knowledge which is not merely abstract or speculative, like the knowledge of the false teachers, but knowledge which has practical content to it. He prays for a knowledge of God that bears fruit and “fills them with the knowledge of His will.” In contrast to the false knowledge that the Colossians have been exposed to, this knowledge is biblical, and it has practical implications. Christ’s knowledge of God impacts all of life. It is character transforming knowledge. In verse 10, Paul says that when you are filled with this kind of knowledge of God, you walk in a manner worthy of your Lord, you seek to please God, and you bear fruit. We must remember Paul’s great dictum that truth is unto godliness, that true knowledge of God makes us like Christ so that we can better carry out God’s directives to us and experience truth for the purpose of promoting godliness.
III. Filled With Real Power
In verse 11, the Apostle Paul also asks that believers would be strengthened with all power. Remember again, these false teachers at Colossae had promised a counterfeit power. So Paul prays that the Colossians would be strengthened with all power in accordance with God’s glorious might. The word “glory” was a substitute word that the Jewish people often used for “God” Himself. Paul is hinting at the might, the power, the strength which resides in the Almighty Himself. It is not a power within the Colossians that he is praying to be increased, it is a power which comes from God, which He implants in us, and which according to Paul in verse 11, produces three realities in our lives which includes “steadfastness, patience, and joy”. Paul says that God is going to give them this power in accordance with His glorious might.
There are all sorts of people in the world today who are attempting to tell you that in order to be successful that you must tap the power within. My friends, what Paul is saying is exactly opposite of that. Until you realize that there is no power within yourself and you start to seek the power above, you will never know true power. Seek the power outside yourself, because our weakness is made strong by His strength and because His strength is perfected in our weakness.
IV. Moved To Thanksgiving
In verse 12, Paul says that he is “giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints.” Then, he recounts the things which are true about all believers. He says that we share in the inheritance of the saints, that we have been delivered from the domain of darkness, that we have been transferred into the kingdom of Son, and that we have redemption and forgiveness of sin. Until this part of his letter, Paul has been constantly saying, “I want this for you. I’m praying this for you.” But when he gets to verse 12, the language turns to “we” and “us.” Remember, Paul knew what it was to be lost and he knew what it was to be found, and Paul can’t possibly say “you were lost and you were found.” He has to say, “we were lost and we were found.” So Paul gives thanks for God having qualified us for His inheritance. In other words, he says, “all the conditions have been met which entitle us to a full standing as the children of God.” And he goes on to say, “God has rescued us from the domain of darkness.” It is so important for us to remember in our forgiveness we are not simply pardoned by the dominion of sin being broken in our experience. God both pardons and He breaks the dominion of sin. We have been taken out from under the domain of the kingdom of darkness, and we have been placed in the kingdom of His Son. Paul uses a beautiful phrase in verse 13. It’s translated in our passage, “His beloved Son,” but it literally reads “the Son of His love.” That is the kingdom in which you have been placed. You have been placed in the kingdom of the Son of His love. May God, by His Holy Spirit, help us to meditate on these truths as we live by His strength in all of life.