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3. Spirit–Led Prayer: Part Two (Colossians 1:9-14)

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“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. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:9–14).

How do we develop our prayer life? How do we pray God’s will in every situation?

In this text, we see Paul praying God’s will for the church. We can be sure this is God’s will and Spirit–led because God chose to include his prayer in the Holy Scripture as an example for us.

Paul is praying for the Colossian church whom he had never met before (cf. Col. 2:1). He is in prison and one of his disciples, Epaphras, who founded this church, informed him about a dangerous heresy that was troubling the saints in the church.

In the last lesson, we looked at a few characteristics of Spirit–led prayer, and in this lesson we will continue by focusing on the requests in Paul’s prayer. But first, let’s remind ourselves of the previous study:

What are characteristics of Spirit–led prayer?

  1. Spirit–led prayer is informed. Epaphras informed Paul about the struggle in Colosse and this prompted him to prayer. We also must be informed to pray.
  2. Spirit–led prayer is constant. After hearing about their struggle, Paul could not stop praying for them. Our prayers must also be constant (cf. 1 Thess. 5:17). We must learn how to live in a state of prayer, bringing all our requests before God.
  3. Spirit–led prayer asks for God–sized requests. All of Paul’s requests are large. Paul prayed that they may be filled with “all” spiritual wisdom and strengthened with “all power” that they may bear fruit in “every good work.” His prayers stayed in the superlatives and our prayers should be great as well.

In this lesson, we will consider two more characteristics of Spirit–led prayer. We will see that Spirit–led prayer is consumed with God’s will, that it be known and done. And also, we will see that Spirit–led prayer is filled with the benefits of knowing God’s will.

As we look at this prayer, let us ask ourselves this question: “Are we being filled with the knowledge of God’s will and therefore bearing the fruits of it?” Lord, let us be filled with the knowledge of your will.

Big Question: What is the content of Spirit–led prayer?

Spirit–Led Prayer Is Consumed With God’s Will

“Asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Col. 1:9b).

Here we see the content of Spirit–led prayer. Spirit–led prayer is always asking for God’s will to be done. When Paul prays for believers to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will, it essentially means two things:

  1. to know God’s will and
  2. to do God’s will.

The word “filled” has to do with being controlled. Paul is not just asking for head knowledge, but an intimate knowledge that controls the believer’s life. We see this in how Ephesians 5:18–19 talks about being “filled” with the Spirit. Look at what it says:

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord.

To be filled with the Spirit means to be controlled by the Spirit in the same way someone drunk is controlled by wine. It means to submit to the will of the Spirit of God in our lives. Similarly, Paul prays this for the Colossians. He prays for this church to know God’s will, probably specifically in confronting the heresy attacking the church. But, he also prays that this church be controlled by God’s will as they obey it.

Most Prayer Is The Opposite

Now it should be mentioned that much of Christian prayer is not Spirit–led. Much of Christian prayer is often about getting our will done on earth. When Christ prayed, he prayed, “Lord, not my will but your will be done” (Luke 22:42). In fact, it is through prayer that many times our wills are conformed to God’s will. This means that in the midst of prayer, we often start to be able to accept a trial we are going through, a difficult person we continually have conflict with, or any other event that has come our way. Prayer, ultimately, is to get God’s will done on the earth as seen in the Lord’s Prayer. “This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven’” (Matt. 6:9–10).

When Paul talks about being filled “through all wisdom and understanding,” wisdom is simply the application of knowledge. It means to know what God’s Word says and how to apply it. Understanding may mean how to apply this wisdom in various and different circumstances, maybe as we counsel others or make decisions about life.

Paul prays that the church would know God’s will and have wisdom to apply it, and to have the understanding on when and where to appropriate it in different circumstances.

Warnings About Not Knowing

The knowledge of God’s will is very important in the life of a believer. Scripture warns against not having this knowledge. Hosea 4:6 says this:

My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. ‘Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children.’

Hosea said the nation of Israel was rejected for a lack of knowledge. Similarly, Isaiah said they were kicked out of Canaan for a lack of knowledge of God. Listen to what he says: “Therefore my people will go into exile for lack of understanding; their men of rank will die of hunger and their masses will be parched with thirst” (Isa. 5:13).

In the same way, many Christians miss God’s best because of this. They miss God’s grace on their lives and find themselves in bondage to sin, in bondage to an addictive relationship, and in bondage to the world and its things because of a lack of knowledge.

The primary way we know the knowledge of the will of God is through his Word. A large aspect of our prayers should be for people to know the Word of God and have wisdom and understanding on how to apply it. Jesus prayed this similarly in John 17:17 as he prayed for all the church. He said, “Sanctify them by your truth, your word is truth.”

Essentially, he prayed, “Make them holy through the Word of God.” We should pray this as well, and we certainly should live it.

The great prayer of the church should be for people to know the will of God and for the government and our leaders to know the will of God. For lack of knowledge our churches perish, and for lack of knowledge our government comes under the judgment of God. We must pray not only that people would know God’s will, but also that they would be filled and controlled by God’s will. This is the content of Spirit–led prayer. “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Application Question: How can we be filled with the knowledge of God’s will, both to know it and do it?

1. In Order To Be Filled With The Knowledge Of God’s Will, We Must First Desire God’s Word.

Everything starts with the right desire. The reason most Christians are not filled with the knowledge of God’s will is not for a lack of access to it. We have the Bible; we have Bible-preaching churches; we have access to much spiritual food through the Internet. The major problem with Christians is not access. It is desire. Listen to how the Psalmist talks about the blessings on a man who delights in the Word of God.

But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers (Ps. 1:2–3).

David says God blesses the man who delights in the law of the LORD. This delight draws them to the Scripture all day long. We all know what it means to “delight” in something. It’s like students on campus all day long looking at their smartphones, liking every comment that comes up on Facebook. Whatever you delight in, you will do all the time.

Peter says something similar: “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation” (1 Peter 2:2).

This inner desire is so important Peter commands it. “Crave pure spiritual milk”; crave it like a newborn baby does. A newborn essentially eats all day long, and that’s the type of desire a Christian should develop in his life for God’s will—his Word.

Application Question: What should a person do if they don’t desire the Word of God?

A wise man once said, “Make it your discipline until it becomes your delight.” Make it the first thing you do in the morning. Make it your snack throughout the day. Make it the last thing you do before bed. Cultivate a desire for the Word of God; cultivate a desire to always be seeking God’s will.

Paul prayed for them to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will and that starts off with having a healthy desire.

2. In Order To Be Filled With God’s Will, One Must Depend On The Lord.

Scripture teaches that man in his natural state has a faculty problem. He cannot understand the things of God and they are foolishness to him if the Holy Spirit doesn’t enable him. First Corinthians 2:14 says, “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

The unregenerate man reads the Bible and gets nothing from it. He cannot understand it, since he does not have the Holy Spirit. However, we do have the Holy Spirit, as he indwells every true believer. But, this does not change our dependence upon him. The Holy Spirit’s job is to teach us the Word of God. Remember what Christ said: “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26).

The Holy Spirit is the believer’s resident professor. It is his job to teach the man of God the Word of God. In fact, we see David was aware of this principle as he prays for God to open his eyes so he could understand the law of God. Psalm 119:18 says, “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.”

David understood that in order to understand the Word of God—God’s will—he needed grace. He needed the Spirit’s illuminating work. It is entirely possible for a person to rely solely on his intellect and his research ability and not depend on the Holy Spirit. However, James 4:6 says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

We must humble ourselves by coming to God in prayer and asking for his grace. That is how we learn God’s will through his Word. We come to him dependently because we realize our incapability.

3. In Order To Be Filled By God’s Will, We Must Be Dependent Upon Mature Believers.

This is a God–given resource to help each one of us know his Word. However, it is often neglected. Look at what Paul taught in Ephesians 4:11–13:

It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

God gives pastors and teachers to help us reach a unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God. Godly pastors and teachers are gifts to the church and we must take advantage of them. We do that by sitting under the local pastors and small group leaders God has given us and also through reading literature from gifted Bible teachers. Often God will use them to lead us into the knowledge of his will.

Some people will say that all we need is the Holy Spirit. Yes, that’s true. But, the Holy Spirit commonly speaks through gifted teachers to help us better understand God’s Word and his will for our life. That’s essentially what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:21: “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!”‘

Yes, there is a dependence we should have upon one another. We should avail ourselves by asking questions and doing research because these mature believers have been given to us for that reason. If we ignore our relationship with mature believers, we may find that we lack the knowledge of God’s will in our lives, which undoubtedly at some point will reap consequences on our lives or the lives of others.

4. In Order To Be Filled By God’s Will, We Must Study The Word Of God.

Certainly, there is no substitute for one’s individual study of Scripture. We must work hard in studying the Word of God. Listen to what Paul said to Timothy: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15).

“Do your best” can be translated as “be diligent,” and the KJV translates it as “study.” How does a person receive the approval of God? He does his best; he is diligent in studying the Word of God so he can correctly handle it.

I think when we go before the judgment seat of Christ, many will not be approved (cf. 2 Cor. 5:10). They won’t be approved because they weren’t diligent. They didn’t do their best. They didn’t study to know God’s will for their marriage, for their career, or for their children. For most Christians, the word “study” in conjunction with the Word of God isn’t even in their vocabulary.

To read alone isn’t to study. If you showed up for a test and all you did was listen to the lecture and read through the notes, you probably would not do well. To study means to wrestle with the Scripture, to ask it questions, to memorize it.

When most people see something in the Scripture that they don’t understand, they just say, “Oh, God understands,” or “My pastor probably understands.” No, God has individually given you the Scripture and he wants you to understand it. It is important for your life. I talk to people all the time who say, “Oh, that doesn’t really matter. All that matters is that we love.” If that was all God wanted for you, he would have shortened the Bible by simply saying, “Love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself.” However, that’s not the only thing in the Scripture.

In order to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will, we must desire to know God’s Word, which is where most of us fail. In addition, we must depend upon God and mature believers, and we must diligently study. There are no shortcuts to being filled with the knowledge of God’s will. We should constantly pray for this.

5. To Be Filled With The Knowledge Of God’s Will, We Must Submit To God’s Word.

As I mentioned before, to be “filled” means to be controlled by it (cf. Eph. 5:18). In order to be controlled by it, we must both have the knowledge and we must be willing to submit to it.

Listen to what Christ said about God’s will: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).

Jesus willingly submitted to God’s will even when it meant pain and suffering. Abraham willingly submitted to God’s will even when it meant losing his son. Job willingly submitted to God’s will even in the midst of the trial. He declared in Job 1:21: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.”

Many Christians only want to submit to God’s will when things are good or when things make sense to them. But true submission means submitting even when we don’t understand or when it conflicts with our desires.

So many Christians find themselves angry with God when things don’t go their way or when he allows trials to happen in their lives. They shake their fist at God. True submission to God’s will means yielding under the sovereign hand of God in the midst of our trials (cf. 1 Peter 5:6).

An Avenue To Know God’s Will

Let it also be known that submission to God’s will is also the avenue to knowing God’s will. Many Christians are praying for what’s next or for what God wants them to do. Sometimes God doesn’t reveal those things because even if he revealed it, we wouldn’t choose to go that path.

A submissive heart is the secret to revelation—a secret to knowing his will. Let me show you a verse that teaches this reality. John 7:17 says, “If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.”

Jesus, in speaking to all the onlookers, said if you want to know if I am the messiah, if you want to know if I am the only way to God, if you want to know that I was from the beginning of time, you must want to do God’s will.

If you want to do God’s will, then he will let you know if it’s true. This is the reason so many people get stuck in doctrinal strongholds. They were raised in a certain teaching, or they think a certain teaching is right, because of their denomination or culture, and ultimately they really don’t want to do God’s will. They only want to support what they already believe. Therefore, they don’t have the submissive heart needed to truly discern what is true or false. Knowledge comes from wanting to do God’s will.

As Paul prayed this for the Colossian church, we must pray this for one another. “Lord, help our sister to know your will as she is looking at her future. Let her be filled with your knowledge on a daily basis at work. Lord, don’t let her just know what your will says, but give her grace to submit to it.” This is God’s will for the church.

Identification Of Believers

The church should be identified as people who are consumed with the will of God. They pray for it; they seek it; they study it; they practice it. Look at what Christ said about his disciples: “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples’” (John 8:31).

True believers hold to Christ’s teaching. They hold on to God’s will. When Christ spoke of turning false professors away from him in the end times, it was because they were not consumed with God’s will as all true believers are. Look what he said: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21).

These are the only ones who are truly saved: the ones who do the will of God. True believers are consumed with it and it is demonstrated in their prayers. This is how the Spirit of God leads believers to pray.

Application Question: What steps to knowing God’s will stood out to you most and why? How is God calling you to seek to know his will more through his Word?

Spirit–Led Prayer Seeks The Benefits Of Knowing And Doing God’s Will

And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God” (Col. 1:10).

What results will you see in a congregation that is being filled with the knowledge of God’s will? When Paul uses the phrase “in order,” he is giving us a result clause. He is telling us why we pray for people to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will. He is giving the benefits of knowing and doing God’s will.

As we look at these benefits, it should also tell us if we are being filled with God’s will. If we are being filled with God’s will, these benefits will be in our lives. If not, then certainly this must not only be our prayer for others, but it also must be our endeavor and prayer for ourselves. Are we being filled with the knowledge of God’s will, and can we see the fruits of this knowledge?

Observation Question: What are the results of being filled with the knowledge of God’s will?

Worthy Walk

“And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord” (Col. 1:10).

A result of being filled with the knowledge of God’s will is that believers will walk “worthy of the Lord.” The word “worthy” comes from the root word “worth,” how much something costs or should be valued. When Christians walk “worthy” of the Lord, they demonstrate the Lord’s incredible worth in their lives. Their lives show how much God really means to them.

Sadly, the lives of many Christians do not demonstrate how meaningful God is to them. Their relationship with the Lord doesn’t change their language; it doesn’t change how they respond when people hurt them or when a job situation is unpleasant. Paul realizes that a full understanding of the Word of God—God’s will—changes the way a person lives.

Please God In Every Way

“And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way” (Col. 1:10).

Paul also says that knowledge of God’s will, will enable the believer to please God in every way. This is very significant. I think we get a good picture of this when we study the book of Kings.

There was a common phrase used for the kings who pleased God. It would say, “they walked in the ways of David” (cf. 2 Kings 22:2). God was so pleased with David that he compared other kings to him. The evil kings were compared to Jeroboam of the northern kingdom, who set up a false worship system (cf. 2 Kings 13:2).

Some kings fully pleased God; some did not please him at all, and others were compromisers. The compromisers were those who followed the ways of David except in that they kept the high places. Listen to what Scripture said about Solomon: “Solomon showed his love for the LORD by walking according to the statutes of his father David, except that he offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places” (1 Kings 3:3).

King Solomon was just like his father, except that he kept the high places. God had called for Israel to not worship like the pagan nations. Pagans often had high places where they sacrificed children and cried out to other gods. The God of Israel had called the nation to worship at the tabernacle, and later the temple, and gave them specific requirements about what worship should look like.

King Solomon pleased God, except for worshipping at the high places. This was true of many kings. Many kings truly loved God but were compromisers. Their lives displeased God because they looked just like the world.

In the same way, many Christians love God and follow God like David but have areas in their lives off-limits to God. It may be their entertainment (what they watch, listen to, or the way they get it), or it may be cheating on tests or taxes. It may be saying curse words here or there. They try to follow God in every other way except for a few high places where they are just like the world.

Many churches are like this as well. Overall, they are good, but in a few ways they displease God. If they don’t repent, God will ultimately judge them (cf. Revelation Chapters 2 and 3). See, God doesn’t want any of our ways to displease him. He desires us to be filled with the Word of God and controlled by it. He desires a life that seeks to please him in every way.

Let us pray that our church and our lives would please him in every way. Let us get rid of everything that is not acceptable to God.

Bearing Fruit In Every Good Work

“And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God” (Col. 1:10).

The next benefit of a life that is filled with the will of God is bearing fruit in every good work. What does it mean to bear fruit?

Interpretation Question: What are some examples of fruit that should be in the life of a believer?

Fruit can include many things.

  • Fruit includes winning souls to Christ.

Look at how Paul spoke about the house of Stephanas. First Corinthians 16:15 says, “You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints.”

The phrase “first converts” is translated “firstfruits” in the KJV. Leading people to Christ is a fruit that comes from being filled with the Word of God.

  • Fruit includes praise and worship to God.

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praisethe fruit of lips that confess his name” (Heb. 13:15).

Worshiping God and giving thanks in all situations instead of complaining and arguing is a fruit of being filled with the Word of God.

  • Fruit includes giving to build the kingdom of God.

Paul talked about the churches giving money to the suffering church in Jerusalem as fruit. Look at Romans 15:26, 28:

For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. . . . So after I have completed this task and have made sure that they have received this fruit, I will go to Spain and visit you on the way.

  • Fruit includes the inner heart attitudes.

We see this in the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22–23. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self–control. Against such things there is no law.”

  • Fruit includes acts of righteousness.

The writer of Hebrews talks about righteousness as fruit in the life of a believer. Hebrews 12:11 says, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Harvest of righteousness can also be translated “fruits of righteousness” as in the KJV.

What’s another result of being filled with his will?

Increasing In The Knowledge Of God

“And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God” (Col. 1:10).

One of the benefits of being filled with the knowledge of God’s will is that it enables us to increase in the knowledge of God or get to know God better. It’s very interesting that Paul includes this after bearing the fruits of righteousness.

This is true because when a person bears fruit, God will give him more of himself. We see this taught by Christ in Mark 4:24–25. Look at what he says:

‘Consider carefully what you hear,’ he continued. With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.

When a person uses the Word God has taught him and bears fruit, God blesses him by giving him more. God gives more understanding of the Word of God; he gives more intimacy with him. “Whoever has will be given more.” This is a promise to those who obey God’s will and don’t simply listen to it every Sunday. James 1:25 says the same thing: “But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.”

The person who looks at the Word of God and does what it says will be blessed by God. He receives more of who God is. But the person who is just a hearer and not a doer starts to have what he has learned taken away.

It has often been said that the reason nothing can live in the Dead Sea is because there is “inflow” but no “outflow.” When a fish swims into the Dead Sea, it automatically dies.

Many Christians always hear but never do what the Word of God says. They never bear fruit, and, therefore, instead of growing and increasing in the knowledge of God, to them God feels farther away than before.

One of the reasons we should pray in accordance with the Spirit is for the benefit of “increasing in the knowledge of God” and growing in intimacy with him.

Spiritual Power Demonstrated In Moral Excellence

Being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light” (Col. 1:11–12).

Observation Question: What types of moral excellence are demonstrated as a result of the power given by God in response to Paul’s prayer in the verses cited above?

The final benefit of being filled with the knowledge of God’s will is growing in the power of God. One might think that this power would be used for healings, prophecy, resurrections from the dead, or some other charismatic work, but it’s not. A person who is filled with the knowledge of God’s will has all power to endure, to be patient, to be joyful, and to give thanks.

Scripture would say that these are actually greater works than many miracles. When David controlled his anger while being mocked by Shimei, that was a greater victory than the miracle of defeating Goliath (2 Sam. 16:5–13). Listen to what Solomon said: “Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city” (Prov. 16:32).

Scripture says to control or rule one’s own temper is greater than any military victory. As a result of Paul’s prayer, God would give power to these believers to grow in these characteristics. Let’s look a little closer at them.

Endurance

Endurance means to bear up under a heavy weight. Through prayer God gives us power to endure a tough work situation, a difficult relationship, or a trial. This power comes through prayer.

It is often said you are either in a trial or about to enter one. Christianity does not exempt a person from the trials of life; it actually may cause more trials. However, God gives us the precious fruit of the Spirit to endure.

Patience

It has been said that the difference between patience and endurance is that patience primarily has to do with people. God gives us power to endure hard situations without complaining or giving up, and he gives us power to endure difficult people without retaliation.

Joy

Joy is an inward attitude that has nothing to do with circumstances but is based on one’s relationship with God. A person controlled by the will of God can go through a difficult situation with joy. Paul said this: “Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything” (2 Cor. 6:10).

God can give power to have joy, even in the midst of suffering. Let that be our prayer.

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving has to do with the outward expression of this internal joy in all circumstances. We saw this perfectly modeled by Job as he thanked God even in the midst of his trials. This was a man “filled with the knowledge of God’s will.” Listen again to what he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised” (Job 1:21).

For many Christians, we are not only guilty of not giving God thanks or praise when things are bad, but we often forget to give thanks when things are good or when God answers our prayers. We saw this with the ten lepers who approached Christ in Luke 17. He told them to go to the temple and show themselves to the priest. On the way there, all of them were healed. One of them was so happy and grateful he ran back to tell Christ, “Thank you.” Consider how Jesus responded: “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” (Luke 17:17–18).

Everybody went their own way and only one returned to give God thanks. Giving thanks to God in trial and in blessing is a result of being filled with the knowledge of God’s will. We should pray for this.

It seems the primary avenue of thanksgiving that remains in the life of a person who is being filled with the knowledge of God’s will is thankfulness for his or her salvation. That seems to be what Paul is referring to when he says “with thanksgiving.” Look at what he says:

Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Col. 1:12–14).

A never-ending thanksgiving for salvation should be happening in the life of a believer. Sadly, for many of us, including myself, we often lose thanksgiving for the greatest thing that happened in our lives—our salvation. This should be a constant source of joy even in suffering.

David prayed this: “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me” (Ps. 51:12). Thanksgiving should be a constant in the believer’s life. “Give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:18).

Have you lost the joy of your salvation?

When a person fails a test on the same day he won a million dollar lottery, do you think he would still be walking around discouraged and depressed? Absolutely not! Why? It’s because his success is so much greater than his loss. He could take care of his future if he is wise with that money. Saint, your future has already been taken care of. God has qualified you to be part of the kingdom of his Son. He has delivered you from darkness into the kingdom of light.

A person who is filled with the knowledge of God’s will, will never forget this. It’s constantly inside of them—on their heart and mind. Let’s look at how Peter comforts a church being persecuted for the faith in 1 Peter. They had lost land, family members, jobs, and their dignity for Christ. How do you think he would start a letter to people in such an unfortunate situation? Watch.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you (1 Peter 1:3–4).

Praise God for his great mercy in saving us! Praise God that even though we lost our inheritance on earth, we have an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for us! Many of us have lost this. It is God’s will for us to always give thanks and to never lose thanksgiving for the greatest event that ever happened in our lives—our salvation.

The benefits of being filled with the knowledge of God’s will are walking worthy of him, pleasing him in every way, bearing fruits for the kingdom, having power that enables us to endure, be patient, joyful, and thankful. We should pray for these characteristics in our lives and the lives of other believers.

Are you filled with the knowledge of God’s will? And are you seeing these wonderful benefits in your life?

Application Question: Which one of these characteristics of being filled with God’s will were most challenging to you and why?

Conclusion

When we look at Paul in this passage, we learn something about Spirit–led prayer. His prayer was so in tune with the Spirit of God that God chose to place it in the Holy Scripture so we can learn from it and put it into practice in our prayer life.

What are characteristics of Spirit–led prayer?

  1. Spirit–led prayer is informed.
  2. Spirit–led prayer is constant.
  3. Spirit–led prayer asks for God–sized requests.
  4. Spirit–led prayer is consumed with knowing the will of God and getting it done on the earth.
  5. Spirit–led prayer seeks the benefits of being filled with God’s will.

Application Question: In what ways is God challenging you to grow in your prayer life?

Copyright © 2015 Gregory Brown

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