Earlier in our discussion of Colossians 1:9-14, we found the content of Paul’s prayer for the church in Colosse. In short, we realize that Paul’s prayers were not simply about physical health, but more importantly, were about spiritual health.
In Colossians 2:1-3 we find the heart behind those prayers. Paul was not praying out of duty. He was expressing a grieving heart toward those he genuinely loved and cared about. I think we could all be challenged to adopt the same kind of heart attitude so that we want the same kind of results from our praying. In this text, we find four results that Paul hoped would be accomplished through his prayers.
Result #1: His friends would be encouraged in their hearts
Paul’s letters were often written to people struggling. Discouragement can come from many different sources. In the case of Colossians, there appears to be some confusion about what to properly believe, and this state of confusion was discouraging. I have been involved with people who don’t believe the Bible, and they struggle making decisions. This is not terribly surprising; confusion is discouraging. So, Paul prays that his friends would be encouraged in their hearts.
Do you want this for your friends? Do you wake up genuinely hoping that your friends are encouraged in their hearts? Or is your attitude ambivalent toward your friends?
Result #2: His friends would be unified in their love
In verse 2, Paul continues expressing his desire that his friends would be unified in love. The church at Ephesus was encouraged to keep the “unity of the spirit in the bond of peace” (4:3). The New Testament is clear that unity was as fleeting in the days after the ascension of Christ as it is today. Believers struggle to maintain unity because love is not exactly the key characteristic of our relationship with one another. Instead, our relationship with other believers revolves around social status, power in the church, and financial barriers. Paul’s heart for his friends was that they would learn to love first and, in the context of a loving relationship, they would have unity.
Do you model this for your friends? Do you show that when push comes to shove, love rules? Or are you more likely to “love” someone who can “love” you back? Are you more likely to “love” someone who agrees with you? At some point, the cycle needs to be broken by real love. Will you be that person?
Result #3: His friends would have full assurance
We might ask, “Full assurance of what?” In the book of Colossians, it appears that the truth of God’s Word – and particularly the supremacy of Christ – is what is at stake. In other words, the truth of the gospel is what is at stake. Paul prays that his friends would have full assurance of their faith. Once again, this is a subject that faces all too many believers. Are the claims of Christ really true? Is Jesus really returning? After death, are we ushered into his presence, or is that simply all there is? These questions are questions people have. Paul’s prayers result in, he hopes, their having a full assurance.
Do you think about that? Do you want your friends to really be assured of the gospel? Do you want the single mom who is tempted in all kinds of ways to do wrong to be assured of the gospel? Do you want the teens, of which 3 out of every 5 leave the church, to be assured?
Result #4: His friends would see the significance of Christ
There are some exegetical decisions that have to be made to determine whether this is really Result #4 or a summary of the other three results. For the purposes of this post, we will simply leave it as a fourth result. The point is that Paul’s friends would see that in Christ is wisdom and knowledge. Thus, the more that Paul and his friends know Christ, the more they will live consistent with his wisdom and knowledge. This is one of the many reasons that Paul explained in Colossians 1:18 that Christ is to have first place in everything.
Don’t you want your friends to see the significance of Christ? Don’t you want the college students to see the significance of Christ?
Colossians 2:1-3 is a passage that challenges the very desires of our hearts. Are we distracted by the various cares of this world, or are we genuinely hoping that our friends have these four results from our prayers?
In order to accomplish these results, we need to pray for our friend’s spiritual health just as fervently, if not more so, than we pray for their physical concerns. May God help us to pray for our friends and see results like this happen in their lives.