During the quieter summer months I have been trying to spend a bit more time think about what I need to pray for, for us a church as after the summer we try and regroup as a church after COVID. One of the ways I have been doing that has been to think about and then pray Paul’s prayers for the churches he was responsible for.
Here is Paul’s prayer for the Colossians.
Col 1: 9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 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, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 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. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1
A bit of background. Paul is writing to a new church, one which he didn’t plant and whose people he didn’t know personally. It was new in more ways than one way, not only was it new in the sense of being recent, but the church itself was “new.” The Church called together by Jesus and brought alive by the Holy Spirit to be God’s family, was a new, fresh expression of God’s People, in continuity with Israel but also different in significant ways. The church was a new community of humanity not seen or experienced before, created by the Gospel, empowered by the Spirit.
Paul says in this passage that he has not stopped praying for this church and we should think about that. He doesn’t mean that he has been in some sort of non stop prayer trance for them neither is Paul just wildly exaggerating for effect, to make himself sound more spiritual than he is. What he is saying is that there are some things he keeps praying for them over and over again, he never stops praying for these things.
I find that fascinating, because it reveals that Paul believed that there were some things that are so important about who we are and what do as church and Christians that we should never stop praying for them.
In other words, from Paul’s prayer here we can distil some of what he thought were the vital ingredients of this new community called Church, of this new way of life that God had made possible through Jesus Christ and the coming of the Holy Spirit.
If we break down this prayer we can begin to see what these indispensable priorities were for Paul.
Here is a summary of what he prayers for continually:
That you will be filled
With the knowledge of God’s Will
by means of the Spirit’s wisdom
you may walk worthily of the Lord
SO AS TO
please Him in every way
Bearing fruit in every way
increasing knowledge of God
being empowered to endure and
giving thanks with joy to the father
Basically what Paul is praying for is that the Church would be a community that understands God’s will and embody and express it collectively and individually in every aspect of their everyday lives. What is important to see is that living this way, being this kind of community, living this kind of life, is not a natural ability, we won’t understand God’s Will just because we are smart, or live it out because we are energetic or enthusiastic or just hard working. Paul prays for these things because the only way we can understand and live by God’s Will is through the Holy Spirit who will enlighten us and empower us. We can’t live as the Church of God or as children of God without the presence and work of the Spirit of God.
We make church about so many things, we make so many things important in church. However, if we take Paul seriously we can see what should be important in every church, church should be about helping people understand God’s will and live out God’s will. If its not about that, if its not doing that, its doubtful if its the church
So just how do we do we translate Paul’s prayer into our experience?
The Church needs to inspire and help people to be committed to
Understanding God’s Word
Being Open To God’s Spirit.
We need God’s Word to have clarity about God’s Will and we need God’s Spirit to help us understand how to apply it in our lives and have the power to live it .
As someone has said
The lesson I am learning from Paul’s prayers is that what we most need as a church is what we need to pray for as a church.
Would you join me in praying for us as a church that we would understand God’s Will and be empowered by God’s Spirit to obey and embody it as a church?