9 For this reason we also, from the day we heard about you, have not ceased praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so that you may live worthily of the Lord and please him in all respects–bearing fruit in every good deed, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might for the display of all patience and steadfastness, joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father who has qualified you to share in the saints’ inheritance in the light.”
Happy Monday! (Spoken in a nice, cheery voice). Ugh. Mondays are when my body informs me that the weekend was too busy, but grateful for another day! As I was reading in the book of Colossians today, I was humbled to see such a fervent, selfless prayer spoken by Paul while imprisoned in chains.
Probably the prayer hot on my lips would be a selfish one about my quick exodus from behind the prison walls. Maybe in a moment of thinking of others in the midst of my misery I would pray for their release or needs, as well. Instead, Paul offers a beautiful example of how we are to pray for one another. That’s what suffering does. It causes us to focus on what really matters, unless we are too concerned with our comfort to see the spiritual reality all around us.
Paul knew the purpose of all prayer – that we would display in our lives the work of God all for His glory. This fervent prayer spoken in accordance with God’s will is a model worth following, but it is not a mere repetition of the words that holds some mystical power. It was the faith behind it and the Holy Spirit inspiring this godly prayer that made it so effectual, so holy.
First, we have to recognize the need for us to have wisdom and understanding. Our motivation to pray is hindered by our own self-reliance. We need to be filled with knowing His will and His understanding. Spiritual wisdom is not mere knowledge of what we can see. It is discerned by our spirit as we seek God.
The humility in the praying that we might live lives worthy of God and please Him in everything is simply put – beautiful. Paul was not praying for material objects, provision, comfort, protection, popularity, health . . . just that we might bring glory to God so others might see Christ displayed in us. He was also not mouthing rote prayers passed down.
Bearing fruit, continually growing in character in Christ – these are the essential items for prayer that Paul cried out for. So often I have missed the deeper purpose in prayer and have mumbled – in my fatigue – prayers that my heart was not fully convinced of. I wanted healing for others, for suffering to cease, but wondered if that was truly praying in accordance with God’s will. Praying for friends who suffer physically, praying for courage, for faithfulness to the Gospel were all good prayers, but seeing the deeper purpose in the details of our lives directs my prayer toward God’s purposes and not mine.
That we would exemplify Christ in every aspect of our lives and live solely for Him – this is the prayer my spirit urges me to pray. Paul concludes his prayer with thanks to God. Not for giving us what we want, but for what we need and do not deserve. How is it that we could be qualified to be saints?! And inherit eternal life?!
Paul did not offer a casual nod of thanks, much like what is spoken at many dinner tables. No, he recognized our depravity and the true miracle of a God Who loved us so much He paid our sin debt but then has a constant source of strength and enablement for those who are willing to ask for it.
So easy, just coming to Him and sincerely asking, and yet so very hard. Self gets in the way and we do not want to have to ask; we also fail to recognize how very much we need to. God meets us there at the well of our true need with living water. He says, “Come drink and satisfy your souls. I AM all that You need.”
Oh God, help us to see how very much we need to pray to You. Burden our hearts with what burdens Yours and help us to see the deeper intent You desire in the outcry of our hearts.