There are many wonderful prayers in the Bible, but one of my favourites has to be Paul’s prayer in Colossians 1:9-12.
As always, Paul’s persistence in prayer for his friends and spiritual children is inspiring and humbling (v9). But it is the content of the prayer which is both breathtaking and utterly realistic at the same time which I really appreciate.
First, he prays that God might fill them “with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives.” (v9) What a thought! That by the work of the Spirit we have access to the knowledge of God Almighty’s will. What lofty topics might be encompassed by the will of God? The rising and falling of governments? The eradication of global poverty? Look at verse 10 and see the answer for yourself.
Paul prays for this knowledge for the Colossian Christians “so that [they] may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.”
Do you see the link? Paul prays that they might have access to God Almighty’s will – so that they may live worthy lives and get to know Him better. Those things are linked by the way –our love and knowledge of God and our lives of obedient service are tied together.
But my favourite part of the prayer is still to come. He continues, “being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may…” (v11). I wonder how you would end the sentence? I’ll be honest, I would love it to end something like “… see many people saved and see great Gospel progress in your area” or “… see victory over areas of sin in your life and the lives of those you love” or some other similarly glorious end.
But the prayer actually continues, “so that you may have great endurance and patience,”. It’s not glamorous. It doesn’t feel ‘powerful’ – is that really the best thing you can do with your might, Lord?
And yet it is just about the best description of the Christian life I know of. The Christian life is full of ups and downs, of times of joy and times of sorrow, of times of struggle and times of great progress. What we need, above all else, is a sustaining vision of Jesus which strengthens us and gives us the power to keep going. To endure with patience.
Verse 12 adds the wonderful rider about ‘giving joyful thanks to the Father who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.” Though we need endurance and patience this is no joyless slog. Because we know where we’re going and we know what has been done for us.
I love the way this prayer brings together the mysteries and glory of God the Father and His plans and purposes, and the mundane but necessary ‘endurance and patience with joy’.
It seems fitting, in a way, that I am writing this on my 15th wedding anniversary.
I am so thankful for the 15 years that God has kept us and our marriage. I suspect that in God’s kindness our experience of marriage has been easier than that of many, we have been so blessed in so many ways, but there have been seasons where life has been harder and we have needed a little of the ‘endurance and patience’. But in all this, the sustaining joy of loving and being loved, and the resources of a Heavenly Father who strengthens us with all power according to his glorious might, have kept us going.
Praise God for His Faithfulness!
Why not turn Paul’s prayer into a prayer for yourself, or for someone you love right now:
I pray that God will fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit 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 giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.