by: Pastor David Huffstutler
Not only did Jesus teach His disciples how to pray (Luke 11:2–4; cf. Matt 6:9–13), but he also gave an example for us in His “High Priestly Prayer” in John 17. In other Scriptures, His apostles spoke by His authority and the Spirit to leave us example prayers as well. One such prayer is found in Colossians 1:9–14.
Paul prayed for the Colossians in a way that we as Christians can pray for one another. In what follows below, I’ll attempt to break this passage apart in a practical way that teaches us how to pray today.
Pray to know the will of the Father. Paul heard of the conversion of the Colossians through Epaphras (Col 1:10). Since then, Paul had “not ceased to pray for” them, specifically “asking that” they would “be filled with the knowledge of his will,” that is, the will of the Father. So, the main thought of Paul’s prayer is to know the will of the Father.
But what is this will? As one author states, “This ‘will’ is not concerned primarily with God’s private plan for individual believers; it is rather his salvific will as he accomplishes his plan of salvation. Paul later defines this ‘knowledge of his will’ as ‘the knowledge of God’ (v. 10) and ‘the knowledge of the mystery of God, Christ’ (2:2).”
Or, explained similarly, “What Paul has in mind is not some particular or special direction for one’s life (as we often use the phrase ‘God’s will’), but a deep and abiding understanding of the revelation of Christ and all that he means for the universe (vv. 15–20) and for the Colossians (vv. 21–23).”
We should pray that we would better understand God’s salvation will for us in Jesus Christ. This knowledge is indispensable for the Christian life.
Pray for illumination to understand the will of the Father. The verb “filled” is modified by the phrase “in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.” Being the case that this wisdom and understanding is spiritual, one might say that, once filled with the knowledge of the Father’s will, the wisdom and understanding to properly understand this will comes through or by the Holy Spirit, or, through illumination. The Spirit of wisdom opens the eyes of our hearts to understand more and more God’s salvation will for us in Christ (cf. Eph 1:16–23).
So, we don’t just pray to know the Father’s will. We pray to know as God Himself understands it and as it applies to us. The Spirit helps us in this regard, and we should pray for His illumination.
All quotes ESV. Articles by Pastor Huffstutler are at davidhuffstutler.com.