Bible Reading: Colossians 1:9-14

“And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing him; bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” (Colossians 1:9-10)

Paul and Timothy base their prayers for the Colossians on the roots of this one truth: Apart from God who works through His Spirit to illuminate God’s Word, there is no way that the church may grow to please God. 

This is the reality within our church, also. Unless God actively works, there is no spiritual growth for our church. If God does not work, our strife and efforts to know Him and serve Him are in vain. Paul and Timothy knew this foundational truth full well; hence they prayed without ceasing. Do we know that unless God works amongst us, we will not be able to come to know Him? Do we know that unless He reveals Himself to us, we will not change? Our ministries and fellowship are all in vain if God is not pleased to work amongst us. Just like Paul and Timothy, pray for your church without ceasing!

How Paul and Timothy prays is most likely very different from how we pray. Sure we pray for our church and uplift our requests to God. But, do we pray with the same desperation that they had? 

Imagine being a criminal in a law of court. You are sentenced to life in prison on account of murder. You beg and plead for your life. “Please, shorten my sentence. I have my wife and kids. I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” You are desperate, very desperate, because if you receive that sentence, your whole life will be taken away from you. 

How many of us realise this life-death reality in our spiritual lives? We are sinners before a Holy and wrathful God. Unless He gives us mercy, we are dead spiritual beings. The church is a gathering of sinners. We do not deserve any special treatment from God, let alone, His wondrous working to flourish streams of life in our dead and hardened souls. We ought to be desperate. We ought to pray in tears because this is life or death. 

If God never reveals “the knowledge of his will”, i.e. His Word, we will never be able to please God. If the Spirit does not illuminate spiritual wisdom and understanding found in the Bible, we will never walk in a manner worthy of the Lord. 

We really have nothing. We really are nothing. God’s Word and spiritual working is His to give or take. By default, He has no obligation to give. Rather, He deserves to punish us for our sins. However, because of His love, we have a hope to which we can cling in prayer. 

“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13-14).

Because Christ has defeated sin and has forgiven our debts, we can hope with confidence in God’s working. He promises that those who are justified are also glorified (Romans 8:30). Yet, we are not to just go about easy thinking that all is good and we don’t have to do anything to be changed. How arrogant of us to receive the gift of life and to take it for granted!

Philippians 2:12b-13 says, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” 

Notice fear and trembling. Learn to pray in humility and desperation that God will work in His church through His Word to give spiritual growth. Pray that the true Word of God may be proclaimed boldly in the church and that God may work through His Spirit to change hearts and to give life. 

It is a glorious thing to see God alone work amongst us. To such an end, we were created; to behold God’s glory and praise Him for it. 

Young men and women, strengthen your knees!

Lord, teach us to pray. Open our eyes to the truth of Your Word. Spirit, work within us and illuminate Your will to us through Your Word. Apart from You who works, we cannot understand. Apart from You who works, there is no change and spiritual growth in Your Church. Please have mercy on us. Do not forsake us but remember us in Your promises and in You Son who has died for us. Teach us to pray. In Jesus’ name, amen.