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After the initial introduction and greeting, Paul immediately does two things in his letter to the Colossians: He gives thanks for the Colossian Christians, and he tells them that he is praying for them.
What does he give thanks for?
First, he is thankful for their faith. Not the size of the church, not their growth, not their programs, or their successes, but their faith. Verses 5 and 6 of chapter 1 tell us a bit more: Their faith sprung from hope, hope that was conceived on the day they first heard the Gospel. And since then, faith that has been growing in them.
Paul is also thankful for the love they have for each other. Some might find it curious that faith would come before love in this passage because we read in 1 Cor 13 that “If I have faith to move mountains but have no love, I am nothing”. But one term is not more important than the other. Paul hears of hope, faith and love intertwined together in the church in Colossae and gives praise to God.
So, what does Paul pray for?
In verse 9, he starts with the prayer that God would fill the Colossian believers with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. Let’s unpack this.
According to this, we can know God’s will. Many things about God are a mystery, but this passage reminds us that, not only can we know God’s perfect will in different areas of our lives, but we can be filled with it. And, if we are filled with such knowledge, it must therefore eclipse all other thoughts or ideas that might be to the contrary.
Such knowledge comes from sources of spiritual wisdom and understanding. What is the greatest source of spiritual wisdom and understanding? Surely the revealed Word of God. Seasons of uncertainty are great opportunities to dig into Scripture. They are also great opportunities for believers to seek God and pray together, in small groups or as a church community. No wonder Paul has in mind a whole church as he petitions God on his knees.
Then, as we discover God’s will together, look at the consequences from verses 10 - 11: We can live a life worthy of the Lord; we can please him in every way; we can bear fruit in every good work; we can grow in the knowledge of God; we can be strengthened in power – power for endurance and patience; and we can grow in our ability to joyfully give thanks.
This is a great prayer for any church. It’s a big prayer, a bold prayer, but one that is vital for the times we live in.
Suggested prayer: Think of your church or faith community. Picture your leaders, your brothers and sisters in Christ and then pray this prayer ‘over’ them. Do it slowly; take each phrase in turn from verses 9 – 11 and add your own prayers as the Spirit leads you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Terry Nightingale is a pastor serving in the southern suburbs of Perth, Western Australia, having previously worked in Christian education both in the UK and Perth. He graduated from Vose Seminary with a Masters in Divinity in 2016. He loves sharing the Gospel and teaching the Word of God.
Terry and Sue arrived in Australia in 2003 from the UK for a 1-year adventure. They never returned! The beaches, the sun and God’s call upon their lives persuaded them to settle in the land ‘down-under’. Today they have two grown-up children both married, with four grandchildren and counting.
Terry writes a popular weekly blog at terrynightingale.com called ‘4-minute Devotions’, short Bible -centred messages for the busy Christian on the go. He also writes Christian worship music and plays the guitar.
Looking Back to Move Forward is his first non-fiction book for Christian leaders – in fact for anyone who occasionally faces discouragement or setbacks. His second book, based on his blog, is entitled Bite-size devotions for the busy Christian.