Colossians & Philemonby Mike Raiter
Paul now moves from thanksgiving to petition. Paul always prays for the Colossians, asking “God to fill [them] with the knowledge of his will” (v. 9). By this, Paul does not mean God will tell us who to marry, where to live, or what kind of car to buy. No, Paul is referring to what he has given thanks for earlier, which is the fruit of the gospel in the lives of the Colossians, and that this gospel is changing lives everywhere. This is God’s will: the spiritual blessing of all the nations in Christ. He wants us to understand more deeply God’s purposes for us and for the world.
This complete knowledge of God’s will happens through “all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives” (v. 9). It is a knowledge given to us by the Spirit. Knowing God’s will is eminently practical—it is about how we live. Therefore, the purpose of our knowing and doing God’s will is that we live a life worthy of the Lord (v. 10). Wouldn’t you want someone saying to you, “I have been watching the way you live for the past year and, if you are a Christian, I want to know Christ”? That is a life worthy of the Lord.
Again drawing from Genesis 1, Paul says that this life, which pleases God, expresses itself as we “[bear] fruit in every good work, [grow] in the knowledge of God” (v. 10). Earlier he spoke of the gospel bearing fruit in the world (v. 6), and now he refers to it in the lives of individual Christians. Lastly, Paul prays that the believers would be empowered to endure and finish the race, continually giving thanks to the Father (vv. 11–12).
The prayers we pray are a good indicator of the extent to which the gospel has transformed our minds. Paul’s prayer challenges us to look beyond our present circumstances and our physical needs to the deeper, eternal issues that are on God’s heart. Let Paul’s prayer transform our prayer lives today.
What does it mean to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will? How can you keep on growing in this kind of knowledge?
What does it mean to “not [stop] praying” (v. 9)? Are there any misalignments between the content of our prayers and the kind of prayers God wants us to pray?