Prayer for Spiritual Growth and Living a Life Pleasing to the Lord

In our devotional from Colossians last week we saw how Paul gave thanks for (1) the faith of the saints that operated in their personal relationship with Jesus and (2) the love that they expressed to all the saints.  In vv. 9-14 Paul intercedes for those in the church specifically for their spiritual growth.

Colossians 1:9-14:

9 For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. 13 For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Paul prays that they would understand God’s Will

Spiritual wisdom and discernment is always necessary to understand God’s will.  Of course, there are many times in the Bible where God simply tells you his will (possess our body in sanctification and honor instead of immorality for example) and our only prayer needs to be one of asking God for the strength to obey.  However, Col 1:9 reminds us that there are times when  God’s will is discerned through spiritual wisdom and understanding.  This was a challenge not only in the first century, but in ours today.  Our churches do have people that struggle with spiritual wisdom and discernment in their homes relating to their spouse or children, in their workplace, and with their friends.  We see it all the time, a husband responds in harsh and sinful anger toward his wife (how is that God’s will?), or a wife stuck in bitterness refuses sexual relations with her husband (how is that God’s will?) or a parent cruelly criticizes his or her children because they “just could not take it anymore” (how is that God’s will?).  The need is clear:  God’s people today are in desperate need of the wisdom and understanding that Paul prays for in this passage.

There are two applications to our lives based on Col 1:9 alone.

  1. First, do we pray for those in our circle of influence that they would have spiritual wisdom and understanding? That they would grow spiritually?  While we are praying for their physical needs let’s apply this text to our own lives by praying for spiritual growth as well.
  2. Second, is spiritual wisdom and understanding something you value? Is that one of your prayer requests for yourself?  Would you agree with Paul that of all the things that he could have prayed for, spiritual wisdom should be at the top of the list?

Beginning in v. 10 it becomes really clear why Paul prays for their spiritual growth.  Without discerning God’s will they cannot please God or live in a manner pleasing to the Lord! Paul does not simply want these folks to know God’s will for the sake of knowledge, but rather for the purpose of pleasing and glorifying God in Christ.  This prayer request is very freeing.  It sets the purpose of your life in clear focus – Please God and live in a worthy manner.

Obedience to God’s Will results in 4 Characteristics in the Believers’ Life

With this new reorientation to life, Paul explains what becomes true of people with genuine spiritual wisdom and knowledge (that is, the ability to properly discern God’s will in all things).

  1. Fruit bearing … Is that awesome or what?  A person who pleases God and lives in a worthy manner bears fruit.  If you are looking at your own life and asking where the fruit is, maybe the issue is that you are not nearly as able to discern the will of God in your life.
  2. Growth in the knowledge of God … People who are able to discern God’s will get something else … greater knowledge of God.  Lest we think this is problematic, lets remember that sad tale of Judges 2:10 which reminds us that one of the colossal failures of the Israelites during the judges period was the failure to teach the next generation about the Lord or what he had done.  Discerning God’s will brings one an even better understanding of the almighty.
  3. Strength for any task ahead … I love this, don’t you?  Don’t you want the strength that God can provide (with all power!!!, v. 11) in order to respond with faithfulness and patience to all that you face this week?  Again, yet another benefit of spiritual growth.
  4. Joyously giving thanks to God for all the blessings made available in Christ … There is more in vv. 12-14 than we can cover in this little blog post, but please notice the emphasis on giving thanks.  The more spiritual discernment we have the more we see the “rescuing” (v. 13) and the “transferring” (v. 13) that God has done through Christ.  The benefits of this rescuing and transferring are practically endless and these endless blessings encourage those who are spiritually mature to joyously return thanks to the one who provided them!

Where does that leave us?

Let us encourage you to do three things this week based on our short study of Col 1:9-14.

  1. Commit to praying for the spiritual growth of those around you (your spouse, your children, your friends, your co-workers) so that they can be more pleasing to Christ and live in a worthy manner.
  2. Take an inventory. Go through those 4 characteristics of those who live worthy lives and look for evidence that they are present in your life.  This will help you see just how much YOU need this prayer.  You will see how much you need spiritual wisdom and understanding.
  3. If you are doing really well, praise the Father. Take this opportunity to joyously give thanks for all that God has done for you to free you from the domain of darkness and put you into the kingdom of Jesus where there is freedom from all your sins.

Next week we will consider the great truths of Col 1:15-20.

Rob Green
Pastor Rob Green oversees Faith Biblical Counseling Ministries. A seasoned counselor, Rob also teaches others how to counsel--through FBCM's training conferences and Faith Bible Seminary's MABC program.