I belong to a Bible Study class at my church and during the school year we meet each Thursday to study God’s Word and share life together. But we take a break from Thanksgiving through New Year’s, which is nice in so many ways. It takes a little of the stress of doing homework and meeting for class off during a busy time of the year. However, I really miss having a purpose to be in the Word. So I pick a theme or a book to study. The last couple of years I’ve spent December focusing on “emptying my manger” so that I would have room in my heart for Jesus. This year I thought I would read the book of Colossians.
I started today with chapter 1 and read Paul’s words of thanksgiving for the hearts of the Colossians and his prayer for their wisdom and endurance in Christ. And I thought to myself, “this is more Scripture to pray over my kids.” I already pray Paul’s prayer to the Philippians over my children often, but this adds some new petitions and I love it!
That lead me to the plan I now have for my December study…The Prayers of Paul. God placed these prayers in Scripture to show us His desires for His people, not for a pain-free life of ease but of a life reliant on Him and His Holy Spirit in us. I want to study the prayers so that I can truly understand what God wants for me. And because I’m already there, I’ll begin in Colossians, chapter 1, verses 9-14 with these words:
“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 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 joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
When Paul heard from Epaphras about these new believers in Colosse, Paul immediately began praying for them, and did not cease. This is a huge wake-up call for me. When I’m honest with myself and God, I know that I don’t have the prayer life I should. Yes, I pray for requests on our church’s prayer chain. Yes, I pray with my Bible Study group. Yes, I pray for things and situations when they arise. But I don’t always pray for my husband, my kids or even myself, like Paul prays…that we would be “strengthened with all power according to His glorious might”. These were people Paul had never even met, and yet he prayed unceasingly for them, why do I not even pray such powerful prayers for the people I love so dearly?
Taking the prayer apart, we see that Paul prayed that they would be filled with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. One thing I have struggled with much of my life is knowing what God wants me do with my life. I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for over 14 years (and loved it), but at times I’ve wondered what else I should be doing. And I don’t want my children to follow in these footsteps. I want them to clearly sense God’s will for them, for the direction they should go, the attitudes they should have, the decisions they should make. And my husband could use a clear sense of God’s will in his life right now as well. I want to pray…with faith…this petition for my family.
We see Paul’s ever-guiding heart in verse 10 as he tells them why he prays this…so that “you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way; bearing fruit in every good work…” We shouldn’t pray for knowledge and wisdom for selfish reasons. But that we would please the Lord, having a heart for what’s on His heart. That we would bear fruit, whether through sharing the gospel, providing relief for those in need or having a heart of gratitude in the midst of struggles. It’s important, especially in our me-centered world today to remind ourselves and our kids…and to pray for this posture of humility and servitude before God.
The “why” continues at the end of verse ten, that we would be ever “growing in the knowledge of God…” The more we know God and His heart, His might, His love, His creativity, His favor, His plan, His peace, His story, His glory…the more we want to know. I pray that my husband, my children and I would all come to know Him more and then hunger to know more and more.
Verse 11 continues, “being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience…” The might of God which shut the mouths of the lions, sustained Jonah in the belly of the whale, caused a stone to topple a giant, raised Jesus from the dead, that power is at work in us. It strengthens us for the trials of life giving us great endurance (emphasis mine) and patience to wait for God’s perfect timing. For the times when we, like Daniel, find our beliefs persecuted, or like Jonah find ourselves in a dark place. Or when we face a giant as David did, only perhaps ours is a medical diagnosis, a job situation or a straying child and it just seems too big to handle. Maybe we need some resurrecting in a relationship that seems dead, or a life that seems worthless. I want to pray for God’s power to handle all of these kinds of trials, not relying on my own strength, but on His.
Finally, what would my life look like if I joyfully prayed in thanksgiving that I have been “qualified…to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light”? That through Jesus’ work on the cross I have a place in the kingdom of light. What if I gave thanks continually for being rescued from the dominion of darkness, from the rule of evil, from the baseness of this world?
And what if I not only gave thanks for this rescue, but also lived like I had a place in the light? What if my children understood what it means to be children of light? What if I truly felt free of the darkness of this world? What if? What if I remembered each day that I have citizenship in the kingdom of God’s own Son? What if redemption, forgiveness, and salvation were the first thoughts I had each day? What if?
I want to pray this prayer, asking God for these spiritual blessings He has promised to us, and find out what life will look like!