"A Prayer for Knowledge, Wisdom, & Understanding in The Church" Colossians 1:9-12
The Pilgrim’s Progress Mr. Worldly Wiseman " . . . Listen to me—for I am older than you. On that narrow way—you are sure to meet with weariness, pain, hunger, peril, sword, lions, dragons, darkness—and what not! In a word, you will meet with death! These things are certainly true, having been confirmed by many testimonies. And why should you so carelessly cast yourself away—by giving heed to a stranger?" . . . And at the end “"Then," said Evangelist, "stand still a little, that I may show you the Words of God." So Christian stood trembling. Sufficiency of The Person and Work of Christ For All Explained Chapter One. The prayers of Paul in verses 3-8 and verses 9-12. It is Christian to give thanks to God in our prayers. It is Christian to be praying for others. His prayer of thanksgiving about them leads him to his prayer of intercession for them. The title of the message this morning is “A Prayer for Knowledge, Wisdom, and Understanding In the Church.” We study the prayers of Paul. Such studies are helpful in painting for us a picture seeing details of prayers. Spiritual progress connected with prayer and praying for spiritual growth. This prayer by Paul in verse 9-12 is specific, personal, and important. As some have described this prayer “Pray As An Apostle Prayed” or “How to Pray for Believers.” In this passage Paul is Praying for Others Asking God for The Knowledge of His Will.
First, Simple Practical Action of This Christian Prayer in verse nine. “For this reason also, since the day we heard . . .” [see 1:4, 6] “ . . . we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask . . .” Pray and ask are the actions describing this matter for Paul as he prayed on their behalf and for them in his intercessory prayer. Praying for others because of Christ. The word ask reminds us of the exhortation and instruction of the Lord Jesus in the Gospel of John to ask the Father in praying to Him as disciples of Jesus [John 14:13-14; 15:16; 16:23]. A man under house arrest and probably chained to a guard intercedes for these Christians in Colossae. This is important for we often don’t pray or won’t pray because of things going on in our personal lives. This didn’t stop the apostle Paul as demonstrated here in this first chapter. The aim of his prayer is for all for these Colossians in Christ. Repeated phrases and emphases refuting the false teaching of the Colossian heresy diminishing the sufficiency of Christ. These repeated words include “all . . . all . . . all . . . all . . .” and “full knowledge . . . full knowledge.”
Second, One Personal Petition of This Christian Prayer beginning in verse ten. Paul writes, “that you may be filled with the full knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding . . .” As one commentator wrote, “The definition of epignosis is ‘almost a technical term for the decisive knowledge of God which is involved in conversion to the Christian faith’. It is just because, in Christ, the Christians already have access to the privilege of this ‘full knowledge’ of God, that Paul can pray for them that they may be filled with it. If conversion to Christ had not brought with it this decisive understanding, then it would be reasonable to teach the need for some further initiation, and thus to occupy the same sort of ground as the new teachers. Paul does not ask for the Christians a new knowledge, however, but rather the proper use of what is already theirs in Christ, so that they can the better discern the will of God for their lives.” (Lucas, Fullness & Freedom) At the end of this epistle Paul describes this again. “Epaphras, who is one of your own, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, sends you his greetings, always striving earnestly for you in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God” [4:12]. The verb here means become full, be filled with; with reference to the will of God carry out, perform, and accomplish. So Paul is petitioning that they would be filled completely, totally, entirely, and fully. He is praying for the total will of God in every area of their lives and not their own wills and desires for the actions and decisions. Throughout the New Testament people are described as filled with different attitudes, emotions, and things others than the will of God. Such examples would be filled with fear [Luke 5:26], sorrow filled their hearts [John 16:6], filled with anger [Acts 19:28], filled with jealousy [Acts 5:17], filled with joy [Acts 15:22; 2 Timothy 1:4], filled with confusion [Acts 19:29], and be filled with the Spirit [Ephesians 5:18]. And the emphasis in all spiritual wisdom and understanding meaning the Spirit of god revealed in the Word of God as the word of truth [1:6] and the Spirit of truth. Wisdom is knowledge which makes possible skillful activity in real life. Understanding is the ability to apply principles to any given situation in life. As one pastor stated, “understanding so that wisdom can go to the treasure vault of the knowledge of His will.” All three important & needed & available for the Christian because of Christ so Paul does pray for them in these matters. Also Wisdom in the Scriptures seen in a few Scriptures to present this morning. “Take care that no one deceives himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the sight of God.” [1 Corinthians 3:18-19] And “For our proud confidence is this: the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and godly sincerity, not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God, we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you.” [2 Corinthians 1:12] And finally, “This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic.” [James 3:15 cf. 2 Timothy 3:14-15; 1 Corinthians 2:12-14]
Third, The Purposeful Direction for This Christian Prayer in verses ten through twelve. Paul writes, “. . . so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord to please Him in all respects . . .” [cf. 2:6 Remember Ephesians 4:1] This means that we should walk in a way that reflects or displays how much He is worthy of such obedience, service, and dependence. This phrase might be translated ”to please Him in all aspects” or "living a certain way that seeks to please Him in everything.” So many other people so many of us are seeking to please. For some it is others, coworkers, boss, friends, leaders, or self. Who are you seeking to please? Who is pleased with the way you walk? This worthy walk because who the Lord Jesus Is & what the Lord Jesus deserves in my life and in the life of His church.
At the end of this prayer Paul would reveal the Characteristics of Such A Walk of Life Which Is Worthy of the Lord. These characteristics demonstrate spiritual progress and development with four participles [cf. 1:6-8] the four elements of the Gospel]. Walk in Manner Worthy of the Lord is Greater Abundance of Good Deeds. See the first participle “bearing fruit in every good work . . .” The phrase teaches “all kinds of good deeds.” How this walk would be lived. Walk in A Manner Worthy of the Lord is Bigger Presence of the Knowledge of God in verse eleven. See the second participle “and multiplying in the full knowledge of God . . .” This phrase might teach ‘knowledge about’ then ‘you will know more and more about God,’ but if to be understood ‘to experience knowledge’ then ‘you will know God more and more’ or ‘you will come to know more and more what God does.’ Everyone in the Biblical record showed their growing knowledge of God as they understood in a bigger way the presence of the knowledge of God. Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord is also Stronger Dependence upon The Power of God in verse eleven. See the third participle “being strengthened with all power . . .” This could also be translated “by every enabling power being constantly strengthened.” And the emphasis “according to His glorious might . . .” With the goal “for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience joyously . . .” Both with difficulty circumstances and difficult people. This would mean strength to hold position, stay faithful, and endure as one would persevere through suffering and bear up under hard times. This phrase might be translated, “all the power you need according to God’s glorious strength in whatever you experience and whoever you face.” Something else to see is the teaching “not makes us powerful, but in no power we need does God leave us deficient.” How this walk would be achieved. And Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord is Larger Confidence in The Grace of God in verse twelve. See the fourth participle “giving Thanks to the Father . . .” [cf. 1:2-3] And “who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints . . .” What a statement of thanksgiving to the Father for who he is and what he has done! These characteristics demonstrate spiritual progress and development with four participles: bearing fruit, increasing in the knowledge of God, being strengthen, and giving thanks to the Father. This walk worthy of the Lord and pleasing Him in aspects includes greater abundance, bigger presence, stronger dependence, and larger confidence.
These three points for this prayer by Paul in Colossians chapter one: Practical Action, Personal Petition, and Purposeful Direction. Praying and Asking as Christians for the spiritual progress and development of other Christians in the church body. Let us be praying this prayer for those in this church body! Memorize this prayer so that you would pray for any believer in any situation for all that they need in every need for prayer. Read this epistle again and again this week.
Pastor Timothy J. Atkins
Husband, Father, Grandfather, Pastor, Teacher, Discipler, and Follower of Jesus.