A hallmark of the redeemed Christian life is that the Christian is compelled to pray. It is their delight and desire to align their heart with the will and purpose of God. They take what they know and see of God’s will and launch those intentions into the throne room of God, for Christ has paved the way as our Great High Priest who gives us immediate access to him. Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:16–18, “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
It is God’s will that the redeemed Christian be fully engaged, looking to God to accomplish his mighty work in our and others’ lives. And what a delight it is. Paul says to rejoice always. Why? Because of the nature and character of God. God has revealed his character in his Word, and he will not be deterred from that. His divine character, as seen in scripture, is the conduit through which he acts. Our experiences are checked by his truth to ensure that they are in line with his character. The things God allows us to go through never go outside his revealed character and will. We don’t live in the realm of mysticism. We experience God through his Word and through the power of the Holy Spirit, which work together to bring joy and encouragement to the Christian.So if we know that God is going to do things according to his divine character as revealed in his Word, then how do we align ourselves and our prayers with his truth? For that matter, what is the reason for and purpose of our prayers? These are great questions that take our hearts through many aspects of purposeful prayer, and it is important to mine the depths of scripture for their answers.
But there is one aspect of this truth that I want you to see in Colossians 1, verses nine and 10. Paul gives his reason for purposeful praying when he says, “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, 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.” The reason that Paul goes to prayer for the Colossians is because of what he has already heard about God working in their lives. But notice the purpose of his prayer: “. . . that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.”
Paul wants the Colossians to increase in the knowledge of God, but he wants their knowledge of God to be consistent with the gospel that has already been preached, which has saved them and in which they are living. He wants them to have a knowledge of God that is based on his Word. He wants them to have a knowledge of God that is not merely abstract or speculative but has practical content that is divine and bears fruit.
Now, the word “filled” (pleroo, in the Greek) is simply the word for filling something up to completeness. It is a word that signifies the absence of anything else.
If I fill a glass of water up to the top, that means there couldn’t be anything else added to the glass without spilling the water. The glass is totally dominated by that water. It is totally consumed by the water. The verb here is also an active passive verb in the Greek, which means that someone else is doing the filling and the person is the recipient of the one filling them up. So you get the sense of what Paul is praying for here. He wants the Christian to be filled with Christ in such a way that our own inadequacies and self-sufficiency go away, and all we are left with is Christ. His desire is that we would be seen in Christ, leading in turn to living in Christ. Paul refers in Colossians 2:3 to Christ, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” In other words, the knowledge that Paul prays for is that of who the Colossians (and all Christians) are in Christ, which will then lead them to live by that truth.
That is the purposeful direction of Paul’s prayer, which causes us to rethink how we pray and to apply what we have learned here. Christian, are you purposefully praying for each other to live in the fullness of Christ, which the Gospel has supplied?
Do you pray for fellow believers’ earthly wisdom to be supplanted with Christ’s wisdom? Do you pray for Christ to be sufficient in their lives, knowing that he does everything according to his truth and character? That is what Paul modeled for us. May we follow his example and pray for each other in such a way that Christ is glorified in all we say and do. Pray, my friends, pray on!