Read Colossians 1:9-14, asking God to help you understand the passage.
Paul shares his prayer that he has been praying for them. The prayer is a really long sentence and it is a little tough to discern what he is exactly asking God to do. Let’s back up for a moment after we read the passage and we can understand his prayer. And more importantly, by understanding it, we can then pray the same things back to God!
First, Paul prays and asks for only 1 thing here: that they will be filled with the knowledge of God’s will (1:9).
Secondly, the goal of having this knowledge of God’s will is that it leads to a godly life that is pleasing to the Lord (1:10a).
Lastly, the rest of the prayer is Paul elaborating on this godly life he just mentioned (10b-14).
Explore 10b-14 and write down the major aspects of a godly lifestyle. There are 4 of them. See if you can find them. (The answers are the bottom of this email, but do some investigation before you peek!)
In summary then, Paul’s prayer is that God helps them understand His will so deeply that it works its way out in a godly lifestyle.
God says that if we would understand His will in a richer way that it will lead to a changed life. How does grasping God’s truths and His desires lead us to a godly life?
One thing that is crucial to see is that for Paul, knowledge has a point or a goal. He does not pray that they gain knowledge simply to gain knowledge. Throughout the Bible, knowledge is not enough and is never the goal. It is ALWAYS intended to lead to a changed life.
What are a few of the dangers if we make knowledge the goal, rather than a changed attitude and lifestyle? See James 1:22 and 1 Corinthians 8:1 for examples.
Why is it so easy to make knowledge the goal rather than a changed life?
What are a couple of things we can do to combat this tendency?
Paul intends that the knowledge of God’s will and the instruction in the Bible always leads to practical changes in our lives. Consider the way he summarizes his ministry in 1 Timothy 1:5:
“But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience and from a sincere faith.” (New American Standard Bible 2020)
His instruction as an apostle always had this goal of loving God and loving others. This is the lifestyle that Christ said was the summary of all teachings (Matt 22:37-40) and this is the aim of apostolic teaching.
(1:9) Being “filled with the knowledge of His will” is Paul asking that God gives them a deeper and richer grasp of His truths, not that God supplies them with some secret or previously unknown truths. Remember, they already heard the truths and the will of God from Epaphras (1:5-7). He is asking that by God’s Spirit, they really “get” the truths of His word. He is praying that believers get a fuller grasp and application of those truths to our lives. In other words, he is asking God to help us see how the truths of God work their way out in our lives and in ours situation—that we grasp the connection between His will and my marriage, and my career, etc.
How does having a richer grasp of God’s teachings help us live a godly lifestyle as described in 1:10b-14?
While Paul is asking that God gives help to us so that we may understand His will deeply and apply it, we certainly know that we must first have exposure to the truths of God. After all they already had been exposed to His truths (see 1:5-7). What are some ways that you can increase your exposure to the truths of God?
Paul is giving us a model prayer to pray for our growth and other Christians’ growth. Take this model prayer and in your own words write out a prayer to God. (I have written out my own prayer at the bottom of this devotional in case you need a little help. But please, try to put it into your own words first. It is a fruitful exercise and will help you understand the passage better and you will likely pray it more sincerely if it's yours!)
Now make this prayer a regular weekly prayer for yourself and for the believers in your sphere of influence.
The 4 aspects of a godly lifestyle Paul lists are (1) bearing fruit (1:10b), (2) a greater knowledge of God [that is personally] (1:10c), (3) divine power evidenced in continuing to endure in the faith and being patient (1:11), and (4) joyfully giving thanks to God for our salvation (1:11-14).
My sample prayer: “God, I ask that you fill me to overflowing with a rich and deep understanding of your will and desires. Grant me wisdom and insight to understand how to apply your will in my life because I am often blind to see and naïve to understand how it fits in my situation. I ask this so I can connect the dots between your truths and my life and live a godly life. I want to live for you, always bearing fruit like love, joy, peace, patience and so many other things. I want to know you better and draw close to you. I want to have your strength to help me stay trusting in you and being patient when times get tough. And I want to be filled with joy and be constantly grateful for all that you have done to save and transform my life. So, fill me with an understanding of our will so I can be changed like this. In Christ’s name, Amen.”