Summary: Exposition of Col. 1:9–14
“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).
Do you ever struggle with how to pray? Do you ever struggle with what words to say or knowing if you’re praying exactly what God’s will is?
In this text, we see Paul praying God’s will for the church. We can be sure that it’s God’s will and Spirit–led because God chose to include this prayer in the Holy Scripture as an example for us.
One of the challenging things about this prayer is the fact that Paul had never seen or met with this church before (cf. Col. 2:1). At the time of this writing, Paul is in prison, and it was one of his disciples, Epaphras, who had previously founded this church.
Shortly after Epaphras founded the church of Colosse, a group of false teachers entered the church and were causing division. From the clues in the letter, it seems that this group was influenced by Gnostic teaching. The word gnostic comes from the Greek word gnosko, “to know.” They were saying that in order for a person to be saved or in order for them to be sanctified, they had to have a higher experience of supernatural knowledge. There was a need for new revelation.
This is very much like many of the cults and liberal Christian groups today. What they teach is that the revelation of Scripture is not enough. They say that the Bible is either not true or we need human reason to test the writings of Scripture to see what is true. They declare that the revelation of Scripture is not enough and that there is a new authoritative revelation that all must hear.
This Gnostic teaching, just like Satan in the Garden, attacked the very foundation of our faith, which is the Word of God. Because this was the type of teaching that the church at Colosse was experiencing, it was in great trouble. The ground of their faith had been shaken as Satan, through false teaching, was attacking the gospel message and Christ specifically.
But as we look at this prayer, we learn a lot about how we should pray for God’s church, which is always being attacked from without and within. This prayer shows us how we can intercede for the body of Christ throughout the world, for believers we know and those we don’t know. There are many characteristics of prayer in this text that will strengthen our prayer life. Let’s look at the text and see what we can learn.
Big Question: What are characteristics of Spirit–led prayer that we can discern from this passage, and how can we put them into practice?
Spirit–led Prayer Is Informed
“For this reason, since the day we heard about you we have not stopped praying for you” (Col. 1:9).
Paul says, “For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you.” Paul was not just sitting in his room, and the Holy Spirit brought the exact prayer prompts to his mind without outside information. No, his prayer was informed.
It seems that Epaphras had informed Paul about the needs of the church and the attack of the cult. It was this information that led Paul into deep prayer. Part of the reason many of us struggle with our prayer life is because we are not informed. We don’t know how to pray or what to pray for.
We don’t know the problems that our friends, our church, our company, and our nation are struggling with. Some of us do not want to know what everybody else is struggling with. Listen to what Solomon said: “The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure” (Eccl. 7:4).
“The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning.” The wise want to be where there is hurting and pain, but the fool wants nothing to do with it. The fool thinks his happiness and pleasure is all that matters in life, so he goes off seeking solely those things. For the fool, “ignorance is truly bliss.”