Text: Colossians 1:9-12
Paul just gave thanks and gratitude to God for the Colossians as we looked at in our last study in v. 1:1-8. Epaphras, the Colossians pastor told Paul of the Colossians faith, love, and hope, and Paul replies by writing them that they are a WELL church; A Worshiping, Evangelizing, Learning, and Loving church. Paul was so thankful and blessed to hear they were living for the glory of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ was foundational in their lives, that it caused him to get on his knees daily for the saints and faithful brethren in Colosse. The Apostle Paul desired for them that they would walk worthy of the Lord, be fruit, grow in knowledge of God (which Paul helps them do through this epistle), and have strength and joy through persecution. In the midst of this prayer, it was penned in a prison. Paul's encouraging prayer came from a discouraging prison cell.
First before we dive in to the text, we must get some definitions out on the table.
Prayer - It is the activity of all believers who communicate with God by worship, praise, thanksgiving, confession, and petition to Him.
The word prayer is a verb. It is an action. Prayer makes things happen. In the New Testament, Vine's Expository Dictionary explains five different ways in the Greek the word prayer is used:
1. Praying to God (General term)
2. Praying Always/Without Ceasing
3. Praying with Asking/Requests
4. Praying with Desire/for Others
5. Praying for Help/Crying out to God
First of all, these different ways prayer is used in the Greek are the ways a Christian should pray in their life. Paul prayed in these ways and so should we. J.C. Ryle said in his book 'A Call To Prayer', "Prayer is the very breath of a Christian." He goes on and says, "Prayer is to faith as breath is to life." Just as a person needs to breathe in order to live, a Christian needs to pray in order to live out their faith. No prayer means no faith, and if you do not breathe spiritually through prayer, you spiritual life will die. Let's take that a step further. If you do not pray, then there is no relationship. If there is no relationship, then that means no salvation! If your a believer, you should be praying all the time. Prayer is the activity and duty of every believer for every day. It is an essential and genuine mark that your saved.
Secondly, prayer is the one thing that universally (meaning all people) cannot be taken away. The Bible is outlawed in 51 countries today, and believers are in jails and taken prisoner without anything. So how can they survive? Through prayer. They still have their heart, mind, and soul that can utter desperate deliverance or wonderful worship. Prayer is the one thing God has given us that cannot be taken away. There are hundreds of examples in the Scriptures, but particularly Daniel while he was thrown in the lions den is a good example. Even in the lions den he had nothing for it all was stripped from Him, yet he prayed and God delivered him. The Apostles in Acts 4 were being persecuted, limiting them to nothing but prayer (since they were enforced not to preach or be arrested). They prayed for boldness and God gave it to them and they worshiped Him.
Thirdly, a note to remember: Prayer in private, creates power in public. Jesus prayed in private to the Father and He went out and was empowered (Mark 1:35-37). This is the secret for the God fearing man. James 5 tells us that the fervent prayers of a righteous man avails much, because they are praying in private with passion.
The Apostle Paul prays Colossians 1:9-11 from a prison as we mentioned before. That is odd if you think about it. It would be the last place we would think a man would pray for us. However, in prison the Apostle Paul was met by Epaphras and was blessed by his presence. Therefore, we get to see the heart of Paul flow onto paper through this prayer to the Colossians. Paul's heart was that they would truly rest in the complete and preeminent One, Jesus Christ.
However, in this prayer we see an example of how to pray for others. If you want to know how to pray for your life and others, learn from how Paul prays. He prayed diligently, distinctively, and devotionally.
I. Paul Prayed Diligently.
A. (v.1:9a) "Do not cease praying for you." Paul never stopped praying. He kept them in prayer because he knew God would answer his prayers and work in the Colossians lives for His glory and their greater good. We need to be diligent in our prayers. We need to be praying always. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 Paul states in three words, "Pray without ceasing," telling us that this is part of God's will for us in Christ Jesus (v. 5:18). Ephesians 6:18 Paul states again that we are to be "Praying always with all prayer and supplication."
We can be diligent in our prayers by setting reminders: 1) On our Cell phone 2) On our Computer 3) In our Car 4) On the fridge 5) In your bathroom or bedroom
II. Paul Prayed Distinctively.
In Paul's prayer, there are several things to notice in which he distinctively prays for. He prays for them to know God's will, wisdom and spiritual understanding, obedience and fruitfulness, increasing growth in the knowledge of God, and to be strengthen and joyful through trials.
A. (v.1:9b) - "Knowledge of His will." The most important thing we can pray is for God's will to be done (like Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount in the Lord's Prayer). It should always be the epicenter of our prayer life. To know God's will, we must be living for God. Paul tells us the key to knowing God's will, "to be filled." As Paul desired the Colossians to be filled with the knowledge of God's will, we are to be filled with the same knowledge. How do you know what God's will is? READ HIS WORD. In the word of God, the Lord lays out His will for your life. If your not reading God's word, how will you know God's will for your life?
B. (v.1:9c) - "In all wisdom and spiritual understanding." Paul wanted the Colossians to understand all the spiritual truths in their lives. First, it is important for us to have all wisdom, which refers to the ability to accumulate and organize principles from scripture. Secondly, it is critical to have spiritual understanding, which refers to the application of those principles for daily living as a believer (John MacArthur Study Bible).
C. (v.1:10a) - "Walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work." Paul goes on and prays that the Colossians will be obedient and fruitful in their lives, glorifying Jesus Christ wherever they go. There are two important words to remember here:
Walk - We have to first know God's will to walk in God's will. Warren Weirsbe explains wisely, "Our purpose in life is not the please ourselves, but please the Lord. We should walk worthy of our calling, and worthy of the gospel, which means we will walk worthy of God."
Work - We have to first be walking with God in His will to work for Him. "Christian service is result of Christian devotion."
D. (v.1:10b) - "Increasing in the knowledge of God." Paul prayed the Colossians would grow in the knowledge of God. What does that mean? It means to learn more about who God is and what God has done for you. There are two ways to do this the Bible tells how we can be fed. 1) We need to feed on the meat of the word (Jeremiah 15:16). 2) We need to drink the water of the word (John 4:13-14). We all should study to show himself approved unto God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth, 2 Timothy 2:15.
E. (v.1:11) - "Strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy." Paul understood that it was power of the Holy Spirit that can strengthen and bring joy to a believer. Only God's power can truly help us be patient through longsuffering with joy. Jesus is our great example. For the joy that was set before Him, he did not open His mouth, enduring the cross and paying the penalty for our sins. He persevered through suffering, yet had joy knowing that what He was going to do on that cross was most important thing in the history of the universe. Paul is another example. He is stoked and joyful because of how believers are preaching the gospel and living for Christ, yet he is in a wicked and desolate prison dungeon. Amazing power of God. Power comes from the Greek word dutamis, where we get our English word dynamite. They power of God is energizes the believer to be joyful during trials.
III. Paul Prayed Devotionally.
(v.1:12) "Giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light." It is not clear where Paul truly ends his prayer since these scriptures in chapter 1 are one long sentence like in Ephesians 1 in the Greek. However, I believe His prayer ends on this verse and then he continues exalting the works and wonders of Christ. Paul wraps up by thanking God and praying the Colossians would be thankful to the Lord. Why? Because God has make us partakers of the Heaven! We have been qualified through the righteousness of Christ to one day enjoy the inheritance of all believers in Heaven. This should be the heart of our prayers, to tank the Lord for what he did for us at Calvary, dying on the cross for our sins, rising from the dead, giving us the hope of eternal life and the promise of heaven!
We learned three ways we can pray effectively through the example of the Apostle Paul:
1. Paul Prayed Diligently - He always prayed. He was always on His knees praying for himself and others constantly. There was never a dry moment in his prayer life.
2. Paul Prayed Distinctively - He always prayed for things that mattered most (God's will, the gospel, spiritual growth, etc.)
3. Paul Prayed Devotionally - He gave thanks to God for the wonderful gift of eternal life. The prayers that he prayed reflected the life that he lived. He prayed with passion and communion to the Lord Jesus Christ.