Summary: Paul’s prayer for the Colossians teaches us how to pray for ourselves and others this year.
“What To Pray For This Year”
Today is the first Sunday of a New Year! Perhaps you made a New Years resolution. Many of us do. Here is some interesting information about New Years resolutions from thee University of Scranton. Journal of Clinical Psychology, (Published: 12.13.2012)
The Top 10 New Years resolutions for 2012
1 Lose Weight
2 Getting Organized
3 Spend Less, Save More
4 Enjoy Life to the Fullest
5 Staying Fit and Healthy
6 Learn Something Exciting
7 Quit Smoking
8 Help Others in Their Dreams
9 Fall in Love
10 Spend More Time with Family
Percent of people who are successful in achieving their resolution 8%
Percent who have infrequent success 49%
Percent who never succeed and fail on their resolution each year 24%
I find the next two statistics interesting, especially because I turned 50 last year!
Percent of people in their twenties who achieve their resolution each year 39%
Percent of people over 50 who achieve their resolution each year 14%
So if you’re my age or older, the chances of keeping your resolution are much slimmer. Probably because the #1 resolution is losing weight, and that gets pretty tough the older you are.
The start of a New Year allows us to reflect on our goals and to consider a “fresh start.” Paul’s desire for the believers in Colossae was that they would be “filled with the knowledge of God’s will.” Today we will study Paul’s prayer for the Colossian church as a model to help us know how to pray for ourselves and others this year.
I. As we begin this new year, Pray to be FILLED with the KNOWLEDGE of God’s Will.
The book of Colossians was written during Paul’s imprisonment in Rome. The church at Colossae was established by those who worked with Paul, possibly Timothy or Epaphras. Yet he writes in a very personal way. The entire first chapter is an emotional appeal to the believers. Paul affirms his love and concern for them. Much of the chapter is a lengthy prayer that he describes in great detail. Paul describes his efforts in prayer in 1:3-8. Following that description, Paul gives them the content of his prayer in a lengthy sentence that stretches all the way from verse 9-20. This is one of those lengthy Greek sentences filled with clauses, prepositions, participles and phrases that modify phrases. The NIV breaks 1:9-14 into 3 sentences and 1:15-20 into 5 sentences, but it’s just one long complex sentence in Greek.
The key request of this entire prayer is found in v. 9 “to fill you with the knowledge of his will.” Everything else in this lengthy sentence describes one of the aspects of this request. It’s easy to lose sight of this central request, or to never see it because of the volume or words that Paul uses, but it’s right there for us to observe. Paul’s #1 concern for these Christians was that they would be filled with the knowledge of God’s will.
This is not a request that they would be given the luxury of knowing the particulars of what they should do about one thing or another. Paul is not thinking of “God’s will” in the sense that we often think of it - “should I buy this car, take this job, write this letter,” etc. Paul is really praying that they would know God more! This is the theme of this entire prayer, and it is also a theme that we can use to provide focus for our lives at the beginning of this new year.
Note how everything in Colossians 1:9-20 relates to the request that God would “fill you with that knowledge of his will.” This is actually a quick outline of the prayer, but it is helpful to see the scope of the prayer before we dig into the deeper meaning of the central request. Note the following parts of this prayer:
- The FREQUENCY of the prayer. 1:9a “we have not stopped praying for you.”
- The FULFILLMENT of the prayer. 1:9b “through all spitiaul wisdom and understanding”
- The PURPOSE of the prayer. 1:10a This is an infinitive and emphasizes the goal of living a life centered on knowing God. By doing so, they would “Live a life worthy of the Lord” (walk worthy of the Lord, in the KJV)
- The RESULT of the prayer. This is expressed in 1:10b-12 through FOUR PRESENT PARTICIPLES in Greek. These words describe the result that will take place in the life of a believer who grows in their knowledge of God’s will. The present tense indicates that these are continually occurring realities. In other words, God will continue to provide these things as you continue to grow in him:
a. Bearing fruit. (1:10)