Colossians 1:9 (NIV)
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….
This is one of my favorite verses … contained in a larger passage that captures a model prayer of Paul. I have found this prayer quite useful because it contains intercessory petitions and supplications that always align with the will of God. And as the Apostle John affirms: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. (Cf. 1 John 5:14) So let’s look at the overall prayer in context.
Colossians 1:3-14 (NIV)
3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people— 5 the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel 6 that has come to you. In the same way, the Gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. 7 You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf, 8 and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.
9For 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 spiritual wisdom and understanding, 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 us 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.
Note that Verse 9 states “we have not stopped praying for you all.” And then it emphasizes, “we continually ask God….” To me, the context urges us to pray often for the people of God … for believers everywhere … because of their faith and love in Christ Jesus. It is a prayer of encouragement, and this is what we ask or petition of God: “To fill His people with the knowledge of HIS WILL through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.” Indeed, this is a powerful request because it presses for revelation, and it activates the faith of believers to accomplish the purposes (works) of God that He has ordained for the Body of Christ to fulfill.
Note that Verse 10 provides the reason that we should ask God to fill believers with the knowledge of His will: So that we may live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way:
a. By bearing fruit in every good work
b. By growing in the knowledge of God
c. By being strengthened with all power according to HIS glorious might
d. By exercising great endurance and patience in your faith
e. By giving joyful thanks to the Father
Note that the overall prayer is for the knowledge of God to fill believers in order for them to accomplish specific outcomes that will please the Lord. And Paul gives us some practical instruction on HOW to please God:
Romans 8:5-8 (NIV)
5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.
17 For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval. 19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification (support).
A Final Thought:
1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 (NIV)
1 As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. 3 It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, 5 not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; 6 and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. 7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 8 Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you His Holy Spirit.