Colossians 1:9-11 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. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joy.
Basically this prayer asks for the discernment of God’s will and then the power to perform that will. The great object of prayer is to know the will of God. Ever growing knowledge. It’s not so much making God listen to us, but making ourselves listen to Him. Not trying to persuade God to do what we want Him to do, but trying to find out what He wants us to do. Remember Jesus said, “pray Thy will be done” not “Thy will be changed.”
Paul is not only praying for their knowledge and understanding, but that they be able to apply it to their lives. We shouldn’t just know about Christianity, but apply it and live it daily. Paul prays that Christians conduct themselves in such ways that please God. Prayer is practical. Prayer and action go hand in hand. We don’t go into a room to pray and escape life; we pray to be better able to meet life. And we need God’s power to live this way. A commentator wrote, “The great problem in life is not to know what to do, but to do it.” Through prayer, God not only tells us His will, but He enables us to do His will.
In verse 11 Paul prays for their endurance, patience and joy. In some Bibles endurance is fortitude. And the Greek word Paul used for this was hupomone. It didn’t mean just the ability to bear what was happening to them and turn it into glory. It was a spirit no circumstance in life could ever defeat. It meant to deal triumphantly with anything life could do to them.
The Greek word he used for patience was Makrothumia and it meant never to lose patience with man or hope in man. To not let whatever happened to him cause bitterness in him. That another person’s unloveliness wouldn’t change your ability to love them.
So, fortitude – no situation could defeat his strength. Patience – no person could defeat his love. Paul prays for a spirit that would never despair or grow hopeless about any situation or person. A Christian’s fortitude and patience must be indestructible. And finally – joy – it’s not a grim struggle, we should have a sunny attitude towards life, and joy in all circumstances.
So this is a great format for praying for ourselves or someone else. We can pray:
1. That God’s will be understood
2. That spiritual wisdom is gained
3. That God is pleased and honored with our actions
4. That we bear good fruit
5. That we are filled with God’s strength
6. That we have great endurance and patience
7. That we are full of Christian joy
And we’ll see in the next section, that we give thanks always.