Study 2 PRAYING AND GIVING THANKS
(Scripture Portion: Colossians 1: 9-14)
Paul was a man of prayer. He was a great Christian, an outstanding scholar, a model missionary, a giant among men, spiritually, morally and intellectually, but above all he was a man of prayer. His Christian life began in prayer (Acts 9:10-11); he prayed for himself (2 Corinthians 12:7-9), he asked others to pray for him (Ephesians 6:18-20), and he practised the holy art of intercession, praying for others, like his Lord (John 17:9).
It is significant to notice that Paul’s prayers were full of praises. In this study we are to notice his praises in Colossians 1:3 and 12; his prayers in Colossians 1:3 and 9; then in Colossians 1:9-14 we are told for what he prayed.
1. THE CHARACTERISTICS OF PAUL’S PRAYER
Verse 9 tells us that:-
- It was marked by PERSISTENCY. “ …we have not stopped praying for you… ” Paul knew something about unceasing prayer - look up 1 Thessalonians 5:17, and compare Luke 18:1! Prayer is a warfare - look up Ephesians 6:12, and if we give up when we are praying the battle goes to the enemy - look up Acts 2:42 and 46.
- It was marked by INTENSITY. Notice the word “asking” in this verse. The KJV has the word “desire”. It indicates that Paul was passionate in his praying; his prayers were filled with a deep longing. There was an intensity about them - compare Matthew 17:21.
- It was marked by UNITY. Paul says, “We have not stopped praying for you …” We may pray alone (Matthew 6:6; James 5:17), but there is special power in united, corporate prayer - look up Acts 16:25, and compare Matthew 18:19.
2. THE CONTENT OF PAUL’S PRAYER
In Colossians 1:9-14 we are told that Paul prayed for seven things:-
- That they might be given PERCEPTION. We have this in verse 9. He prayed that these Colossians might be filled “with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding… ” We need spiritual enlightenment in order that we might know the will of God and do it. By nature we cannot understand the things of the Spirit of God - look up 1 Corinthians 2:14, and compare John 3:2-7.
- That they might lead lives PLEASING to the Lord. This is mentioned in verse 10 - “that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way” - look up and compare Romans 15:3 and Galatians 1:10.
- That they might engage in PROFITABLE service. Verse 10 says – “bearing fruit in every good work… ” Until we become Christians our lives are unprofitable, and it is only when we are converted that they are made profitable - look up Philemon 10-11. The will of God is that our lives should manifest the fruit of the Spirit – look up Galatians 5:22-23, and compare 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 and 2 Peter 1:5-7
- That they might PROGRESS in the Christian life. Verse 10 continues - “ …growing in the knowledge of God”, and the operative word is the word “growing”. Paul longed that these Christians should grow. See the beautiful picture in Hosea 14:5-7. The Christian life is in three stages: “dear children”, “young men” and “fathers” - 1 John 2:12-14.
- That they might be endued with POWER. Verse 11 goes on - “strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might… ” Paul is praying that they might have the experience of Pentecost (Acts 2:4), for none of the things of which we have been thinking are possible in our own strength - look up and compare Ephesians 3:16 and Philippians 2:13. Potentially, the power of the Holy Spirit has been given to us; but what about experimentally? - look up Acts 1:8, and compare Luke 11:13.
- That they might have PATIENCE. Notice how Paul continues in verse 11 – “so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks .” Notice the words “patience” and “endurance” and compare with James 5:11. The apostle prays that these Christians might endure in the face of fierce testing, that they might do so with a gentle and loving spirit, and that they might be filled with joy, even though called upon to suffer for their Lord - look up Acts 5:41, and compare 1 Peter 4:13.
- That they might be filled with PRAISE. It is important to notice the difference between praise and prayer. There are some things for which we are to pray; but there are blessings for which we are to thank God because He has already given them to us – notice the word “has” twice in verses 12 and 13, and the word “have” in verse 14. We do not need to pray, nor should we pray for these things which we have. What are they?
- His PROVISION (verse 12). He has given us an “inheritance” - look up and compare Romans 8:16-17. Thank God!
- His POWER (verse 13). See what He has delivered us from and translated us to! - and compare Exodus 14:13-31! Thank God!
- His PARDON (verse 14). How we should thank God that all our sins have been removed from us (Psalm 103:12); blotted out (Isaiah 44:22); cast into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19); and that God will remember them against us no more (Hebrews 10:17). Thank God!