Welcome to Week 3 of Colossians! We are about to study an amazing prayer that Paul prays for the Colossian believers in chapter 1:9-14. I am convinced that this is a significantly IMPORTANT prayer we can use as a model as we pray for others in our day. I first heard this passage taught by Dr. Charles Stanley, and I was totally captivated by the way Paul prayed and the power of these words an concepts strung together on their behalf. My husband and I chose these exact verses for our baby boy’s dedication a couple years ago (we have baby dedication Sunday at our church each year where parents commit to raising up a child in the way he/she should go). So, needless to say, these scriptures are very near and dear to my heart. My prayer is that after today, they will become near and dear to yours as well!
Click (Col PN 1.9-14) to download the notes for this session & the 5 days of homework
Top 10 Things Paul Prayed for the Colossians
- Setting the tone: Do not stop praying (v.9)
Paul sets the example for them. We’re only to verse 9 and he has told them twice that he’s praying without ceasing for them. He prays constantly, he wants them to know it so that they may follow him in that.
Keep on asking! That’s what Jesus tells us to do in Matthew 7:7-8.
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”
Pray without ceasing in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18,
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
And the awesome concept Paul teaches to the Philippians in Philippians 4:9,
What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
If people were to follow your example in how you pray, would they be walking closer with Jesus?
- To Be filled with the Knowledge of His Will (v. 9)
The NLT says “Complete” knowledge of His Will
Romans 12:2 tells us that by the renewing of our minds we can learn His will, which is good, pleasing, and perfect. (see DAY 1 of your homework)
God is pleased to answer this prayer, because in effect you are praying for a mind to be renewed so that this person can know the will of God.
Something I have said for so many years is that I do not believe our God is in the business of keeping us in confusion – He is pleased when we want to know His best plan…but will we persist in prayer long enough to have our minds transformed so that we can learn what His will is?
Paul prays NOT ONLY that they’d have knowledge of His will BUT that it comes to them through Spiritual Wisdom & Understanding
- Through Spiritual Wisdom & Understanding (v.9)
There are differing placements of the word Spiritual between different translations of the Bible. Some place it before the wisdom & others before the word understanding; I think it’s a case of spiritual meaning both spiritual wisdom and spiritual understanding.
What does the word “Spiritual” mean? It’s a word that has different implications if you talk to different people depending on their background, upbringing or religious affiliation.
Spiritual: the part of man, which is akin to God and serves has His instrument; belonging to God the Holy Spirit; one who is filled with and governed by the Spirit of God
The Greek word for wisdom is “Sophia”, from Strong’s Lexicon, gives us 7 aspects to this word for wisdom. I will list them below (a-g), and I want you to read these slowly and carefully and think about what Paul is saying when he prays wisdom for the believers in Colossae:
a. the varied knowledge of things human and divine, acquired by acuteness (sharpness of mind) and experience
b. science and learning
c. interpreting dreams and always giving the sagest advice
d. intelligence evidenced in discovering the meaning of mysterious numbers or visions
Joel 2:28-32 contains the prophecy of future dreams and visions among God’s people as the Lord pours out His Spirit. Depending on your background spiritually speaking, this idea may be surprising or even shocking to you; others will be totally comfortable with the idea of God speaking through numbers, visions, or even dreams. But let’s look in Acts for the New Testament proclamation of the same thing:
‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
Isn’t that fascinating? Let’s get back to the last 3 points in defining “Wisdom”:
e. skill in the management of affairs
f. devout and proper prudence in dealing with those who are not Christ followers, skill and discretion in imparting Christian truth
g. the knowledge and practice of the requisites for Godly and upright living
Spiritual wisdom comes from the Father because we are His instruments. It is by the Holy Spirit that we can and are able to do this; in science & learning, in interpreting dreams or visions or mysterious numbers, in giving wise advice. We are His instruments in managing our affairs, when we witness to non-believers and when we do what He calls us to in living a Godly, upright life.
I’d say that pretty much covers everything we need to do in this life, and God is saying that we are to be His instruments in it. There is not an area of life where we do not require God’s instruction or input in order to be an effective instrument in His hands.
Now, let’s turn the page and discuss the second word in that verse.
“Understanding”: flowing together with, quickness of apprehension, the penetrating consideration which precedes action, understanding, reflective thought.
So “spiritual” meaning the same thing as for wisdom: the part of man which is akin to God & serves as His instrument, belonging to / being filled with / governed by the Holy Spirit + flowing together with & understanding = operating in 100% congruence with what the Holy Spirit is telling us from the Father.
My interpretation is that Spiritual Understanding = flowing together with the Holy Spirit. The ONLY way we can possibly know His will or have true wisdom and understanding is by Jesus’ blood and the Advocate Who has come to reside in us!
12 “There is so much more I want to tell you, but you can’t bear it now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. 14 He will bring me glory by telling you whatever he receives from me. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine; this is why I said, ‘The Spirit will tell you whatever he receives from me.’
- A Life that Always Honors & Pleases the Lord (v.10)
The word “honor” here is interpreted in other translations, “a life worthy.”
The NIV says, “so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work…”
We can be assured that if we live lives that honor, please and are worthy of the Lord, the evidence will be good fruit, and that proves that we are His true disciples.
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.
- Bearing Fruit in every good work & growing in the knowledge of God (v.10) (DAY 2 homework)
Several other translations express the verse this way, “increasing or growing in the knowledge of God.”
You have probably heard many times that in the Christian life there is no stand-still, you are either growing or shrinking back in your faith, either moving forward or backwards. If we want to know God better and better and grow in the knowledge of Him, His Word is the best place to start. That is why He gave it to us!
We have ridiculous access to the Word of God in America, so much so that I believe it has caused us to lose our hunger for God as the Body of Christ. Lord, forgive us from the sinful belief that we know you as well as we need to – and Father give is an insatiable hunger to know you better and better by knowing Your Word!
All of this results in the way we live, how much we allow the Lord to lead us by the Holy Spirit – all of THIS above causes our life to honor & please the Lord & causes us to produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, we are growing as we’re getting to know God better & better. Letting our roots grow down into Him. (Col 2:7)
- Being Strengthened with All His Glorious Power (v.11) (day 3 homework)
Just quick note on the Greek here, which I find totally fascinating…so, “dynamoo” is the Greek word for Strengthened, it’s root-word is “dynamis”, which Paul used for power in this same verse!
God is telling us, through Paul, that our strength comes from His power…and with the Greek words he used he gave the readers a literal word picture. Dynamoo comes from Dynamis. My strength from God’s Power…here is a quick graphic to hopefully make it clear:
16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places…
- Having All the Endurance & Patience You Need (v.11)
Of all the things I think we need under trial, these two things are paramount. Let’s let the Word of the Lord speak to our hearts.
Endurance (Greek – Hypomone): in the NT the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and reverence for God by even the greatest trials and sufferings; steadfast waiting for; a patient enduring, sustaining, perseverance
Patience (Greek – Makrothymia): patience, endurance, constancy, steadfastness, perseverance, forbearance, longsuffering, slowness in avenging wrongs
For what trial or issue do you currently need an infusion of endurance?
Where are you lacking patience?
- Be Filled with Joy (v.11)
The coolest thing about joy is that it is not dependent upon circumstances. It means, according the Strong’s to rejoice exceedingly, to be well, thrive. I want those whom I pray for to rejoice exceedingly, to be well and to thrive.
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
- Always Thanking the Father (v.12)
I want to be the kind of daughter that is always thanking my Father. Jesus was the kind of Son that was always thanking The Father. Do you remember the word for THANKS in verse 3; Eucharisteo: to be grateful, to feel thankful, to give thanks. What the definition gets at is that we can, even when we do not “feel” thankful, give thanks. And when we give thanks, we begin to feel thanks, and that creates a state of “being” thankful in our hearts. If we can push through the lack of feeling into obedience of what God asks of us, inevitably our feelings will come around.
Feelings are a result of our belief, and God is a God powerful enough to change our “want to” our “feelings” and our “state of being.” All we need to do is be obedient to what He is saying to us right now. This day our daily bread.
One step at a time, patiently enduring and relying on His glorious power as our strength, all the while we are growing in our knowledge of Him and discovering through the transformative power of His Word, what His will is and our lives begin to bear fruit and thereby honor the greatness of His Name.
- The Truth is: He rescued us out of the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of His Dear Son – Who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins. (vv.12b-14)
And finally, to the crux of it all in verses 12-14…the truth of the Good News! You have enabled us, Lord, to share in the inheritance that belongs to Your people who live in the light. Take theses verses in; they are all about Jesus purchasing our freedom:
When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins.
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.
He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.
The next verses in Colossians 1 go on to describe the incomparable greatness and power and superiority of Jesus Christ our Lord (we will study these in Week 4!). No matter who we are praying for, saved, not saved, struggling or succeeding – we all need Jesus. We all need Him equally as bad as the next person. The Good News is that He Himself came down and rescued us out of the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of His dear Son, by means of Christ’s blood on the cross – He purchased our freedom and forgave our sins. THIS is what enables us to live the life He died and rose again to give us!
A life of prayer & unhindered communication with God – complete knowledge of His will – experiencing wisdom and understanding we could not have apart from Him – lives that honor and please the Lord – lives that bear every kind of good fruit – growing & knowing God better and better – being strengthened with all His glorious power – being filled with joy – always thanking the Father – knowing, receiving, and walking in the truth of the Good News of Jesus Christ, now THAT is life and life to the full, if you ask me!
In closing for week 3’s session, I find this take on Colossians 1:9-4 from The Message translation:
9-12 Be assured that from the first day we heard of you, we haven’t stopped praying for you, asking God to give you wise minds and spirits attuned to His will, and so acquire a thorough understanding of the ways in which God works. We pray that you’ll live well for the Master, making Him proud of you as you work hard in his orchard. As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that He has for us.
13-14 God rescued us from dead-end alleys and dark dungeons. He’s set us up in the kingdom of the Son He loves so much, the Son who got us out of the pit we were in, got rid of the sins we were doomed to