Colossians 1:9-14 – Lessons from Paul’s prayer for the Colossians



Colossians 1:9-14




If we went around the church and asked each one how he/she learned to pray – privately and esp. out loud in a small group or in church – we would probably discover that most of us learned by listening to others and then praying in a similar way.

This is true not only of the style of praying i.e. the language used, but also the content of our prayers.


This in itself is not necessarily a bad thing – in fact it can be a good thing provided that the model followed is a good one!


What we know about God has a profound influence on our prayers – we learn about God from the scriptures and this affects our praying – the deeper our grasp of the scriptures the greater influence it will have on our praying.


Something that is of great benefit is to study the prayers of scripture – Moses argued with God; David sang praises in pray; Solomon’s wonderful broad-visionary prayer at the dedication of the temple; Nehemiah…; Jeremiah …; Mary …; Jesus himself …; and then Paul… .


Let’s look at Paul’s prayer for the Colossians!

What requests and petitions does Paul make for these Colossian Christians?

Are the petitions that we present to God in line with what Paul prays for?


What do we most ask God for? – good health, recovery from illness, a good job, safety on the roads, success for our children/grandchildren, help with studies,…?

Is the central focus of our prayers similar to that of the Apostle’s? Or has the secularisation of our lives made our prayers parochial, self-centred and earth-bound?


What are some of the lesson we can learn from Paul?




Colossians 1:9

9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you ..


Paul is writing to a Church that he has never visited – the church was probably planted by Epaphras – it is likely that Epaphras came to know Christ through the ministry of Paul at Ephesus.

BUT having never visited them Paul assures the Christians at Colossae that he is praying for them. He has added them to his prayer list and is interested in their spiritual well-being!


How extensive is our praying?

Are our petitions about our families, our Church, our needs and our circle of friends? — of course we need to pray for these things!! BUT if that is the extent of our praying we become parochial and turned in. Our world is then very small and very selfish!!


Of course we can’t pray for everyone in the world – specifically – by name! BUT we need to focus on and pray for parts of the world that we have never visited!

As a Church we do – I know that some do privately – we each need to evaluate this area of our prayer life! Are we doing this? and if we are how can we do better?


This kind of praying is a crucial element of our expression of the Church at large – it helps to enlarge our horizons, increase our ministry and help us become world Christians. {D A Carson}




Colossians 1:9

9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you


Does this mean that Paul is permanatly on his knees in prayer? Is this some exaggarated boast? NO! Paul is simply saying that he prays for them on a regular basis – He says a similar thing in —

Romans 1:9-10 9 God, whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you 10 in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you. (NIV)


Paul is saying that in his regular, disciplined times of prayer he makes it his business to bring them to God in prayer.


There are things that we need to ask God for again and again and again!

There are some blessings from God that we need constantly and as we ask constantly so he provides constantly!


ILLUS. We give thanks for our food at meals. Jesus also taught us to ask daily for our food.


Is it not equally true therefore that we should constantly be asking God to mature us spiritually as well as our fellow Christians.

This constant, unceasing prayer of Paul for the Colossians and others serves as an encouragement to us to learn to be persisitent in our prayers.




Colossians 1:9

9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.


What does Paul mean by – the knowledge of his [GOD’S] will – frequently we use this term “The Will of God” with reference to my life, my future, my career, …. We seek the Lord’s will with regard to who we should marry, what job we should take, which town to live in…… This is not a bad thing!!! It is good – we need God’s guidance in these matters!


However, this focus can be misleading – if it encourages us to think of the Lord’s will primarily in term of my needs, my future, my career, and so on. It can ofetn end up as another form of self-centredness>> . Not only that BUT it distorts the dominant way in which the Bible speaks about the will of God.



Psalm 143:10    10 Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level                  ground. (NIV)


The Psalmist here makes obeying God’s commands almost the same as knowing God’s will. What God has decreed is his will and it is our responsibility to do it.


NB the psalmist does not say – Teach me your will – BUT – Teach me to do your will – He assumes that God’s will is already known.


Romans 12:2 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will. (NIV)

The more our minds grasp the truth of God’s Word, the more our character and behaviour is molded by what God thinks, the more we will know and practise God’s will.


Ephesians 5:15-17

15 Be very careful, then, how you live — not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. (NIV)


God’s will can never be reduce to merely intellectual pursuit. The days in which Paul lived were evil – and nothing has changed – society at large is not concerned about doing what God wants. The majority of people don’t think twice about what God’s will is they simply do as they please!

If we are to be true to the name “Christian” then we had better –       15 Be very careful, then, how you live –…, 16 making the most of every opportunity… understand[ing] what the Lord’s will is. (NIV)


1 Thessalonians 5:15-18 15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.

16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (NIV)


When Christians are always moaning, negative, critical, whinging about this or that – THEN you need to ask yourself “Am I doing God’s will?”

I am not talking about always having a grin on your face like a Cheshire cat!

I am not saying we need to praise God for bad things — but God is always worthy of praise and thanks because of what he has done for us in Christ!


It is absolute foolishness to pretend to be seeking God’s will for your life in terms of a marriage partner, career, role in the Church, etc. when then in no deep desire to pursue the will of God which he has already revealed in his infinite kindness in the Bible.


The next part of the verse needs to be carefully looked at – through all spiritual wisdom and understanding – “Through” is one of those little words in Gk. which can be translated in a number of ways – here it would better be translated “Which consists of” – asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will [which consists of] all spiritual wisdom and understanding.


Remeber from Proverbs – wisdom in scripture is never merely intellectual – wisdom is knowing HOW to live.


Paul understands the world in which he lives – it is the same world in which the Colossian Christians live – it is a world filled with all kinds of human philosophies and tradition. A world not dissimilar to ours, filled with syncreticism and pluralism -{hope to deal w. this in our series on being a witness staring next week} – these are subtle philosophies that want to put Christ on a smorgasbord of religious choice – Paul won’t have it — thus in the next section he goes on to expound the supremacy of Christ who is head over every power and authority.


What we all need is the knowledge of his will [which consists of] all spiritual wisdom and understanding. – Some run after every new apparently exciting gimmick that is going to be the “answer to all our problems”. Others are so bound by tradition that want as little change as possible. BUT what we need are Christians whose knowledge of God is not simply intellectual but who know God in a fresh and profound way.

–and who are prepared TO DO his will whether or not it upsets the politically correct philosopies of the day or the cherished traditions of the past!


Within the churches today there is a lack of basic biblical knowledge – not theological dogma – not being able to simply parrot verses of scripture without understanding what they mean – [I am in favour of memorizing scripture – with understanding] – what I mean is a knowledge of the Bible that begins to understand the mind of God with all spiritual wisdom and understanding.

You will never hope to mature to this level unless you read and study the scriptures yourself – read books – listen to tapes of good teaching – engage in discussion with other Christians – AND pray for spiritual wisdom and understanding.

We don’t expect Children to grow without food – we don’t expect to live without food so then why do we expect to survive spiritually without spiritual nourishment.


Why is this so important — because this is what pleases God!!





Colossians 1:10 10 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: ….


We saw this last week – 2 Thess. 1:5 … you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, …

Here Paul’s call is stronger and more personal – worthy of the Lord – and just so that we get the point that this includes practical living he adds – and may please him in every way: –




ILLUS. Those who were in Church last Sunday Evening will have heard Ant Greenham telling about honour killing in Jordan – when one member of a family does something to dishonour the family name another family member may, if the offence is serious, kill the offender.


In such cultures shame is a very powerful deterrent/ motivation. People will go to great lengths at great personal cost to avoid bringing shame on the family name. Even in our Western Culture sensitive individuals don’t want to disappoint a loved one BUT this is nothing like a shame culture. {Our radical individualism often applauds stubborn independence}


Most cultures in the first Century were shame culture but Paul doesn’t tell them to live up to the expectations of the Family or even the Church BUT to THE LORD. To adopt an approach to life that would please Jesus in every way!!


Certainly, shame culture can be very cruel and manipulate and destroy individuals in the name of community!

The church can be guilty of a similar attitude by manipulating people by guilt without pardon, power without mercy and conformity without grace!

However, a greater problem in the Western Church with its radical individualism is that some think they can sin with impunity – an indifference to sin.


What we need to do is to watch our action and reactions, our conduct and our speaking so that we avoid bringing shame on the name of our Lord but rather live worthy of him.


How can we begin to live lives that are pleaseing to the Lord unless we know what God’s will is? However, knowledge of God’s will is not an end in itself rather pleasing him is the goal.


How do we do that? Paul never allows us to be abstract.




Colossians 1:10-12 10 …. bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, …


These flesh out what it means to live a life worthy of the Lord!



~ bearing fruit in every good work.


It is true that we are saved by grace through faith BUT for a purpose …

Ephesians 2:10 10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (NIV)


We are not made acceptable to God by doing good works BUT Paul can’t imagine a Christian not doing good works – good works are the fruit of our spiritual life — ARE YOU bearing fruit????


~ growing in the knowledge of God


There is no concept in the NT of the normal Christian life being static!!

We are not spiritual robot that do mechanical tasks, we are living spiritual organism who are to be growing. Growing in what?? — our knowledge of God!! He has already prayed that they will be filled with the knowledge of his will.

Knowing God depends in part upon us obeying God – the more we know of God’s will the more we need to obey – the more we obey the more we will understand what God’s will is and the more we will obey and so on & on …


How often do we want God to tell us what he wants us to do! We want some new revelation of God! YET we are not obeying what we already do know!


As we obey what we do know, in that we get to know God better and his will…


Are you growing in your knowledge of God? Head and heart!!


~ showing great endurance and patience


This is a tough one! Endurance and patience are not popular virtues today! We want “windfalls”, fast-foods, quick results, jackpots, pleasure not pain, …

This is not stoical “grin-and-bear-it” stamina – nor it it simply physical stamina ~

BUT it is the kind of virtue that enables a believer to survive with joy when persecuted ~ like Job, to maintain a trust in God when suffering!

This is the kind of life that pleases the Lord and is worthy of Him.


~ giving joyful thanks to the Father


To neglect thankfulness to God is like slapping him in the face – consider this One to whom we are to offer thanks!

Colossians 1:12-14 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (NIV)


In the light of this salvation which God has given us the only appropraite response is JOYFUL THANKS!




~ prays constantly that they will be filled with the knowledge of God’s                        will.

~ the purpose

– to live a life worthy of the Lord

– utterly pleasing to him – [which is impossible …]

~ impossible unless they are growing and have a

spiritual grasp of what God’s will is.

IF this is true then there must be concrete evidence

– bearing fruit in every good work

– growing in the knowledge of God

– empowered by God to show great patience and endurance

– joyfully thanking God for the amazing salvation given them

through his beloved Son, Jesus Christ!


When last did we pray like this for each other or for ourselves?






Colossians 1:9-14.


 He prays for those he has not personally   met  [v9]


‚ He prays for them unceasingly  [v9]


ƒ He prays for their filling with the      knowledge of God’s will [v9]


„ He prays that they might be utterly pleasing to the Lord [v10]


… He portrays 4 characteristics of a life that   is pleasing to the Lord:- [v10-12]

         – bearing fruit in every good work

         – growing in the knowledge of God

         – showing great endurance and patience

         – giving joyful thanks to the Father


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