A Powerful Prayer For A Young Church
Col. 1:9-14
By Paul Robison

 Notice how the following people prayed for others.  Job would rise early to pray for his children's forgiveness (1:5).  Moses prayed that God would spare the Israelites after they had forsaken Him and worshipped a golden calf (Exodus 32:11-14).  David prayed that God would spare the sick child which Bathsheba had begotten (2 Samuel 12:15-18).  Daniel prayed for the Jews in captivity that God would forgive them and keep His promise to allow them to return to Palestine (Daniel 9:1-7).  Jesus prayed that Peter's faith would not fail (Luke 22:31-34).  Peter's prayer helped bring Dorcus back to life (Acts 9:40-41).  Paul prayed for the salvation of his fellow Jews (Romans 10:1).  James said that elders' prayers for sick brethren could help to bring about their healing (James 5:14-15).  All of these examples show us the power of prayer made on behalf of other people.  When we call upon God to intervene in another's life, we are doing something that has real significance.  You see, we are imitating our Master when we pray for others: "Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them" (Hebrews 7:25).
Do you pray for others?  Did you know that our bulletins and prayer sheets mention specific people for which you can pray?  Doesn't praying for others show unselfishness, faith in God, hope for the situation, and love for the individual?  Do you pray for congregations?  Have you ever prayed for one where you had never met anybody?  Have you ever prayed for a congregation that is less than ten years old?
Now let's look at a series of Scriptures that have an interesting expression.  In Romans 15:13, we find a prayer of Paul: "Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."  Notice how Paul is praying that God will fill all members of the church at Rome with joy and peace.  Paul has just written admonitions to help this congregation have more joy and peace despite their racial differences, and now he asks God to bless them by filling them with joy and peace.  Now let's look at Ephesians 3:19 where we find Paul praying again for the church at Ephesus: "to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God."  What is this "fullness of God" all about?  One version had "being flooded with the richest measure of the divine Presence", another had "being full of all of God's gifts", and another said "being indwelt to the fullest with God's Spirit".  Whatever "fullness of God" means, it sounds like it is being offered generously.  Now let's look at Philippians 1:11 where Paul is praying yet again: "... being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God."  The fruits of righteousness would be those godly attributes that flow from a life devoted to following Jesus.  Now, did you notice in all these cases that Paul is praying that all the members in a congregation will be filled?  To be filled also means that God is the subject that is causing the members to be filled, and the members aren't filling themselves.  He prays that God will fill the congregation at Rome with joy and peace, and the congregation at Ephesus with God's fullness, and the congregation at Philippi with godly attributes.  Have you asked God to fill our congregation with any of the concepts mentioned in these passages or with some other needed blessing?  Now there is another blessing with which a congregation can be filled, and we'll discover it in just a moment.
Now let's look at another series of passages which is tied together by the word "worthily" or "suitably".  In 1 Corinthians 11:27, Paul is explaining the seriousness involved in eating the Lord's Supper, and he states: "Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord."  Paul wanted these Christians as they partook of the Lord's Supper to do it worthily or suitably or in keeping with the commemoration, and equality, and the promises that this memorial meal should bring to mind.  Now look at Romans 16:1-2: "I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea, that you may receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and assist her in whatever business she has need of you; for indeed she has been a helper of many and of myself also."  Since Phoebe was going to Rome, she was probably the person who delivered Paul's letter to them.  Notice how Paul tells the members there to accept her worthily or suitably or in keeping with her status as one of saints in Christ.  She has been a great help to many Christians, and these Christians are to welcome her worthily.  Now look at 3 John 6-7 where John writes to Gaius: "... who have borne witness of your love before the church.  If you send them forward on their journey in a manner worthy of God, you will do well, because they went forth for His name's sake, taking nothing from the Gentiles."  John is talking about some traveling missionaries who will be coming to the congregation where Gaius is a member.  After their visit, John wants Gaius and the church members to send them on their journey worthily or suitably or in keeping with what God would desire.  This could mean that the church would provide them with food, water, or maybe even a financial contribution to help them with their travels.  Now look at 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12: "... as you know, how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children, that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory."  To walk worthy of God means to live worthily or suitably or in keeping with what God expects from those who are in His kingdom and share His glory.  Live worthily according to God's standards; now there's a challenge that can take us a lifetime to fulfill!  "Worthily, suitably, in keeping with" Keep this interesting concept in mind because there will be another application in a few minutes.
Now let's notice some passages that highlight the verb "to please".  Jesus said in John 8:29: "And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him."  I always do those things that please God.  Is that your aim in life?  How much do you do to try to please yourself?  Those who live carnally cannot please God. That truth is stated in Romans 8:7-8: "Because the carnal mind [it starts in the mind] is enmity against God; for it is not subject to law of God, nor indeed can be.  So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God."  So to please God we have to have spiritual minds and live according to the teachings and guidance of God's Holy Spirit.  Our world wants to keep us in the gutter, but God wants us to focus on spiritual and heavenly matters!  We don't please God if we try to please people.  That truth is seen in Galatians 1:10 where Paul states: "For do I now persuade men or God? Or do I seek to please men?  For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ."  Just as Jesus lived to please His heavenly Father, we should live to please our Lord, Jesus Christ.  In fact, Paul affirms in 2 Corinthians 5:9: "Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him [to Jesus]." If I were to ask our children, "What do you do to please your parents?"  They'd probably give a reply like this: "Well, we obey what they say and we give them things that we know they like."  This would be a great answer, and isn't it how we should act towards Jesus, not pleasing our flesh, not pleasing people, but pleasing God and Jesus?
How do we know that God wants Christians to be fruitful?  You might recall Jesus' parable in Luke 13:6-9 where there was a certain fig tree that wasn't being fruitful.  The owner wanted to cut it down, but the steward asked him to be patient.  The owner did, but warned if there was still no fruit, it should be cut down.  Some of you might think of John 15:8 where Jesus affirmed: "By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples." Romans 7:4 says that "we should bear fruit to God."  Being fruitful means being more than just pew-warmers doesn't it?  It is good to see everyone who is here, but doesn't productivity as a Christians include more than just church attendance?
Christians are also to be known for their good works.  Jesus admonished us in Matthew 5:16: "Let you light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."  Jesus practiced what He preached for in John 10:32, we hear Him say these words: "Many good works I have shown you from My Father.  For which of these do you stone Me?"  The Christian sister named Dorcus was described by Luke as a woman “full of good works” (Acts 9:36).  Ephesians 2:10 declares: "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."  In Titus 3:14, Paul admonishes: "And let our people learn to maintain good works, to meet urgent needs, and they may not be unfruitful."  By the way, did you notice how doing good works and meeting urgent needs is called being fruitful as well?
Now let's notice one more phrase, and then, hopefully, all the loose ends can be tied together.  Look now at 2 Corinthians 10:4: "For the weapons of our warfare are no carnal but might in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God ..."  Notice, in our spiritual warfare, conflict often occurs between the knowledge of God and false concepts. Now look at Peter's introduction to his second letter where he states in verse 2: "Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, ..."  The knowledge of God includes all aspects about Him: His actions, His qualities, His words, His truths, His plans, His promises.  God is certainly a grand Being to try and wrap our minds around!  Paul exclaims in Romans 11:33: "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!"
Paul prayed for congregations.  Lately, we have been looking at the book of Colossians.  Paul prayed for this congregation too.  Interestingly, this was a relatively young congregation, and Paul didn't know any of the members personally.  He had never visited Colosse (Col. 2:1), and he learned about the situation there from their evangelist named Epaphras. Now let's look at 1:9-10: "For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God."  Paul prayed for these Christians regularly.  Paul wants this congregation to be filled with the knowledge of God's will.  Since this congregation was probably composed of many converts from paganism, this was an appropriate request.  Knowing God's will would safeguard these members from being led astray by false teaching.  Of course, what Paul is about to write in the rest of this letter will be God's will too.  Knowing God's will is to result in the manifestation of all wisdom and all spiritual understanding.  Wisdom is God's mentality and understanding is the ability to discern between truth and falsehood, good and evil (Weed).  Today, we gain understanding of God's will by studying the Bible.  Searching the Scriptures helps us to see more clearly God's desires.  "I pray that you all will be filled with a knowledge of God's will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord."  That you may live worthily, suitably, and in keeping with Jesus' teachings and expectations. Now notice, knowing God's will..... Will result in changed behavior.  One commentator observed: "Understanding will fuel holiness, and holiness will deepen understanding" (Wright).  What a challenge!  Now Paul gives three ways that will help these brethren at Colosse to live worthily.  "I pray that you may walk worthy of the Lord, and here's the first way--fully pleasing Him."  I pray that you do what Jesus desires, that you will give Him what He likes, that you will follow His teachings and Spirit's guidance.  "I pray that you will walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, and here's the second way --being fruitful in every good work.  Jesus is at work, therefore, His people are at work too.  One brother observed: "Nothing could be plainer in the word of God than the fact of good works being required of those who hope to enter heaven" (Coffman).  Paul's reference to bearing fruit ... and increasing brings to mind the parable of the sower.  The seed sown on the good soil bore fruit 30, 60 and 100 fold (Arnold).  Doing good works, meeting urgent needs, and serving others makes Christians fruitful.  "I pray that you will walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work, and here's the third way--increasing in the knowledge of God.  We try to wrap our minds around all aspects of God.  Increasing in the knowledge of God means better understanding His character, His justice, His grace, His forgiveness and His eternal purpose to save the whole world through Jesus and unite all people in His church.  A commentator states: "Paul is asking that the Colossians may understand themselves more and more to be God's new, true humanity, and that they may increasingly live in a manner appropriate to that vocation" (Wright).
Why don't we pray this prayer of Paul for our congregation?  First of all, pray that each member here will be filled with a greater knowledge of God's will so that we can manifest God's mentality and discernment. Next, pray that we will live worthily, suitably, in keeping with Jesus' expectations.  We sing: "Oh, how I love Jesus", but Jesus wants our songs only if we are conducting our behavior according to His teachings.  Next, pray that we will all strive to please Jesus in all that we do and to give Him the things that He desires.  Next, pray that we will be a fruitful congregation which is full of good works, and that others will see that we are truly Jesus' disciples and God will be glorified.  Lastly, pray that we will increase in our knowledge of God Himself, in all aspects of His Being. If these five things are too hard to remember, just write out Colossians 1:9-10 and tape this verse to a mirror, a refrigerator, a window or a dashboard, and it will remind you about what to pray.  Someone has rightly observed: "Faith sees man redeemed and in union with Christ, abiding in Him, identified with Him, and clothed with His power [by means of our] intercession, [our prayers for others]" (Murry)!  Brothers and sisters, let's commit ourselves to this fervent prayer of Paul for each other (Hughes)!  When we call upon God to intervene in another's life, we are doing something that has real significance.  "For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God."  This prayer shows us how the Christian life is a noble and useful life.  Living according to God's standards causes our lives to be transformed for the better.  Don't live to please yourself or others!  Live to please Jesus and show others that you want to do this by being immersed in His name.  Maybe you haven't been praying for others or living worthily according to Jesus' expectations.  Confess these weaknesses, and prayers can be made asking God Himself to strengthen you in the days ahead.  Crown Jesus as the King of your life now!