Summary: Message 2 in our exposition of Colossians exploring the content of Paul's opening prayer.
Chico Alliance Church
I. Paul exhibits effective prayer
A. Paul offers thanksgiving to the Father
1. Focus of thanksgiving – the Father
2. Frequency – continual
3. Factor (occasion) of thanksgiving – Belief of the Colossians
Sequence of events
Epaphras Shared the Gospel
Colossians received the Gospel
Colossians responded to the Gospel
Epaphras shared the Colossian’s faith with Paul
Paul is inspired to give thanks and pray for the Colossians
B. Paul offers petition for the Colossians
First, Paul repeats the factor or catalyst for his petition.
Second, Paul repeats the frequency of his petition
1. The Petition – may they be filled with a knowledge of God’s will
“Filled with the knowledge of God’s will” Point time passive verb Paul asks that something fill them not that they fill themselves. This is a word used of manning a ship.
to be controlled or filled Paul is asking that the members of this congregation be controlled and manned by something. Paul’s prayer is that every aspect of the lives of these believers be controlled and directed by something outside of themselves.
What is it that Paul wants them to be filled with? “Knowledge of God’s will”
This word knowledge refers to knowledge gained by experience. This is an intensified form of the word that indicates a full knowledge or complete knowledge. This is not just any knowledge, it is knowledge of God’s will. This knowledge of God’s will is accompanied by a spiritual wisdom and understanding. It is one thing to know facts about God or what God desires, it is quite another thing to see how it all applies to the spiritual dimension of life. Thus Paul adds “in all spiritual wisdom and understanding”. This element is vital because it is the trigger for all the other effects contained in his prayer for these people. What Paul is asking God on behalf of these believers is that they commit to and be directed and controlled by God. He wants them to be absorbed and overflowing with a desire to be servants of God standing in line continually waiting to receive their instructions for the day.
How different from today’s teaching that God just waits to serve us.
He waits to grant your every desire. Yes God will give you the desires of your heart but don’t jerk that verse away from its context. The first part talks about delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. If you are delighting yourself in the Lord what are the desires of your heart? The LORD. Paul longs that these Christians be absorbed with pleasing God. It is one of the characteristics of a heart after God. The Holy Spirit in Ephesians urges us to try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.
Paul modeled this kind of life. He was willing to give up all personal affirmation and acclaim that he might know Christ and be found displaying the life of Christ, the resurrection life. Everything else was considered trash next to knowing Christ. Jesus of course was the perfect example of this principle.
“My food is to do the will of Him who sent me.”
“I came to do your will O God.”
“Father please let this cup pass nevertheless not my will but yours.”
“I did all that the Father asked me do.”
All along the way the Father affirmed the Son.
“This is my dearly loved Son in whom I am well pleased.”
He became obedient even unto death and therefore God has highly exalted Him.
Paul prays that these Christians would be like that. He longs that they too be consumed with and controlled by what God wants, His purposes on this earth, His desires.
What does God want?
God’s will for our life does not so much related to where, but how and who and what. He is much more interested in character development and relationship to Him than places. Too often we get hung up on the incidental and miss the important. Thessalonians 4 makes it clear. “This is the will of God…abstain from sexual immorality.” Later in the same letter Paul instructs us to pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
Any direct command in Scripture pretty much indicates what God desires of us. The great commandment and the great commission pretty much sum up God will for us.
Love the Lord your God. Love you neighbor. Make disciples. Paul wants these issues to permeate these believers’ hearts and heads. I have not ceased to ask they you all may be controlled and driven in your life by a complete first hand experiential knowledge of God’s will and ways.
How does this take place?