Colossians 1:9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.
This is a beautiful, involved pastoral prayer, but with the conflict of languages, translations, and traditions, it’s very hard to pull out a section to write about! Even in English, traditional verse divisions often don’t match up to the sentence divisions in modern translations, and then with Japanese grammar it can become completely different still. However, this verse is reasonably self-contained, and it certainly has plenty of truth in it. In the first place, Paul didn’t stop praying for this group of believers after he heard about them through Epaphras. We tend to pray about something or someone once and then forget about it. That can sometimes be an expression of faith, but it is more often an expression of spiritual laziness. The movie, The War Room, is very good on that point. That said, what we pray for is very important. Paul knew how vital it is to know God and His will for us, so that is what he prays for these people, and by extension, for us. I like the turn of expression in the Japanese, where “understanding” is expanded to “strength (ability) to understand.” As the Bible makes clear in several places, and as our own experience will tell us, there are quite a few truths about God that we can’t really grasp without the help of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, it’s always appropriate to pray for that help to be granted to our brothers and sisters in Christ. Doing so will improve our own ability to understand! God doesn’t want or intend for His will to be a mystery to any of us, so if we ask sincerely, He will answer.
As a pastor I should go back to do a study of Paul’s various pastoral prayers, and of course Jesus’ great pastoral prayer before His crucifixion. (John 17) I delight in prayer and don’t hesitate to pray, but I still have plenty of room to grow. It has been pointed out to me recently that I have responded to the stresses and pressures I feel by becoming less patient with those around me, and that’s not good at all. The more, and more accurately, I pray for people the more patient I will be with them, because I will be trusting God with them. If I fail to pray for them, my efforts at feeding them God’s truth will be less and less effective. I am to speak the truth in love, but such love will certainly express itself in prayer for them. Likewise, I need to be careful that my prayers don’t center on people’s relationship to me, but rather to God. Since ordaining an assistant pastor I’m not preaching every Sunday, and that feels strange. I’m to pray that people would receive God’s truth just as well through what he says as I pray that they will through what I say. From this evening I’ll be attending a three-day conference. I need to pray that everyone present would receive what God says to them through each person who speaks. I’m the MC for tonight’s session. My words and my bearing need to point people to God in worship, praise, and expectation, so that their hearts may be open to receive all that God wants to do in them.
Father, thank You for all You’re doing in me these days. Sometimes things come out about me that aren’t pretty. Thank You for exposing them so that I may repent and receive Your cleansing. May Your presence in the service here and in each session of the conference be clear and strong, touching each life and transforming us more and more into the likeness of Christ, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!