Summary: Exposition of Col. 1:9–14
Spirit–led Prayer: Part Two
“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:9–14).
How do we develop our prayer life? How do we pray God’s will in every situation?
In this text, we see Paul praying God’s will for the church. We can be sure this is God’s will and Spirit–led because God chose to include his prayer in the Holy Scripture as an example for us.
Paul is praying for the Colossian church whom he had never met before (cf. Col. 2:1). He is in prison and one of his disciples, Epaphras, who founded this church, informed him about a dangerous heresy that was troubling the saints in the church.
In the last lesson, we looked at a few characteristics of Spirit–led prayer, and in this lesson we will be continuing that look by focusing specifically on the content of Paul’s requests in the prayer. But first, let’s remind ourselves of the previous study:
What are the characteristics of Spirit–led prayer?
1. Spirit–led prayer is informed. Epaphras informed Paul about the struggle in Colosse and this prompted him to prayer. We also must be informed in order to pray.
2. Spirit–led prayer is constant. After hearing about their struggle, Paul could not stop praying for them. Our prayers must also be constant (cf. 1 Thess. 5:17). We must learn how to live in a state of prayer, bringing all our requests before God.
3. Spirit–led prayer asks for God–sized requests. All of Paul’s requests are large. Paul prayed that they may be filled with “all” spiritual wisdom and strengthened with “all power” that they may bear fruit in “every good work.” His prayers stayed in the superlatives and our prayers should be great as well.
In this lesson, we will consider two more characteristics of Spirit–led prayer. We will see that Spirit–led prayer is consumed with God’s will, that it be known and done. And also, we will see that Spirit–led prayer is filled with the benefits of knowing God’s will.
As we look at this prayer, let us ask ourselves this question, “Are we being filled with the knowledge of God’s will, and therefore bearing the fruits of it?” Lord, let us be filled with the knowledge of your will.
Big Question: What is the content of Spirit–led prayer?
Spirit–led Prayer Is Consumed with God’s Will
“Asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Col. 1:9b).
Here we see the content of Spirit–led prayer. Spirit–led prayer is always asking for God’s will to be done. When Paul prays for believers to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will, it essentially means two things:
(1) to know God’s will and
(2) to do God’s will.
The word “filled” has to do with being controlled. Paul is not just asking for head knowledge, but an intimate knowledge that controls the believer’s life. We see this in how Ephesians 5:18–19 talks about being “filled” with the Spirit. Look at what it says:
Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord.
To be filled with the Spirit means to be controlled by the Spirit in the same way someone drunk is controlled by wine. It means to submit to the will of the Spirit of God in our lives. Similarly, this is what Paul is praying for the Colossians. He is praying for this church to know God’s will, probably specifically in confronting the heresy attacking the church. But, he also is praying that this church be controlled by God’s will as they obey it.
Most Prayer Is the Opposite
Now it should be mentioned that much of Christian prayer is not Spirit–led. Much of Christian prayer is often about getting our will done on earth. When Christ prayed, he prayed, “Lord, not my will but your will be done” (Luke 22:42). In fact, it is through prayer that many times our wills are conformed to God’s will. This means that in the midst of prayer, we often start to be able to accept a trial we are going through, a difficult person we continually have conflict with, or any other event that has come our way. Prayer, ultimately, is to get God’s will done on the earth as seen in the Lord’s Prayer. “This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven’” (Matt. 6:9–10).