Grace Family Bible Church
Paul Prays for the Saints
By: Scott Morton
For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;  That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;  Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;  Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:  Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
Here we have the Apostle Paul speaking about the issue of prayer. He is specifically dealing with the prayer he is offering up for the members of the local assembly in Colossae. This prayer gives the members of the Body of Christ some information about what our prayers should look like.
As Paul starts to speak about this, he is going back to the things which he had heard about them and their faith. Paul understood they had put their trust in the gospel for today (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) and had been functioning properly according to the doctrine which he was giving to them. This showed their ability to rightly divide the Word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15), understanding there is doctrinal information which has been given to Israel which does not apply to the Body of Christ.
Since Paul could not always be in these places, or sometimes had never even met people he was writing to, he had to rely on information which was being given to him by faithful men. Some examples of passages dealing with this are below:
Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,  Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;
I thank my God, making mention of thee always in my prayers,  Hearing of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints;
As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ;  Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit.
These three examples show how Paul was given information about individuals. He had this information communicated to him, including this assembly. Epaphras came and told him of the things which were going on there. It is clear of his faithfulness based on the words used to describe him. This information would lead Paul to pray for these saints so they could continue in this manner.
Prayer is an important aspect of the life of a believer. This is true no matter what dispensation we are looking at. The first mention of prayer is found in Genesis 20:6-7, showing Abraham praying. The issue of prayer is important because this is communication with God from the believer. This always has to be looked at in the dispensational context. The believer today cannot try to pull promises from passages such as 2 Chronicles 7:14 and think this is going to occur today. The only things about prayer which will happen for us are related to what we find in Romans through Philemon. We are speaking to Him and the Apostle Paul speaks about this issue, giving commands on how this should occur:
Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.  Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;  Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;  Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;
In this passage Paul is speaking about being instant in prayer. This speaks of the urgency which our prayer life is to have. We should have an importance of prayer in our life and wanting to have this communication with God. This is something Paul also speaks about the assembly in Thessalonica:
1 Thessalonians 5:17-18
Pray without ceasing.  In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
Here Paul tells them to pray without ceasing. This means prayer should be at the forefront of what we are doing. It is more than just having a designated time at the beginning or end of the day to pray. We should be looking to communicate with God throughout the day.
As part of this, we see the thanksgiving that is tied in with prayer. Paul does this over and over again as he speaks on this issue. We should be thankful for everything which has been done for us, which starts at the Cross and what was accomplished to take care of the issue of sin and give us the gift of eternal life. Even when things are going badly for us here on earth, these are things which we can be thankful for.
Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.  And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.  And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Paul speaks here about something related to our prayer life which many individuals struggle with. He tells us that he we don't know what we should be praying for. This is hard to think about, as we are told we should be praying for all things (Philippians 4:6-7). The issue is we have a misguided thought process of how prayer should work. We look at it as almost a demand system, as Israel had been told 'Ask and ye shall receive' (Matthew 21:22). We don't always get these things, so people think God is not answering their prayers.
God does listen and answer the prayers of the believers. However, He is answering what the Spirit is making in the intercession for us. The prayers we offer up are changed to match up with the things which match up with the Will of God for us. This is why the answer does not seem to match up with what we think it should be.
This passage shows the prayer Paul is offering up for these saints. Because he is inspired as these words are being recorded, this gives us an example of how we should be praying for other individuals. The starting point of the Apostle Paul is that they would be filled with the knowledge of His will. He starts with this type of growth, which is typically not where we would start. Paul starts here because of where the focus of things in this dispensation is:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:  According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
The blessings which have been promised to us are spiritual blessings in heavenly places. This lines up with the place where we will be for all of eternity. Everything which is discussed with the Body of Christ has to do with heaven, as we will reign with the Lord Jesus Christ there for all of eternity.
In order to be able to function there properly, we have to prepare ourselves during our life here on earth. This means we have to grow in the knowledge which has been given to us. This growth impacts who we are and the life which we live now. Paul speaks over and over about the information which was committed to him:
For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,  If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:  How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,  Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)  Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;  That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:  Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.  Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;  And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:  To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,  According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:
The Apostle Paul was given the responsibility to make all men see what the fellowship of the mystery is. This can only be accomplished by the preaching of the gospel message and the teaching of the doctrine for today, which is found in Romans through Philemon. This is the information that has an impact on an individual and can accomplish what Paul is praying for with the individuals in Colossae.
This is the only way the Word of God can have an impact on a believer and allow for the individual to be filled with the knowledge of His will. It also is important for us to know what the will of God is so that we can be functioning in this manner. Paul tells us exactly what it is:
1 Timothy 2:3-5
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;  Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.  For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
The will of God comes in two parts. The first of these is that all men would be saved. The gospel which provides salvation is the gospel message which has been committed to the Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). This is the only thing which can save someone today. Many people try to use a different gospel or add something to this message. By doing either of these things, the gospel message no longer can have the impact it is supposed to have and would not save anyone.
This is a message which all of mankind has access to (Titus 2:11). Many people do not realize this, but everyone can receive the salvation which is being offered today. The responsibility we have is to preach this message to others so they have the opportunity to receive salvation.
The second part involves coming onto the knowledge of the truth. This is what Paul is praying for with these saints. This growth of knowledge comes from the study of the believer (2 Timothy 2:15) in order to be where God intends for us to be.
The problem so many individuals have is they do not understand what the will of God is. They do not realize what Paul had explained to the saints in Ephesus:
See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,  Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.  Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.
We are to have an understanding of the will of God. This is the only way we will be able to stand in His will (Colossians 4:12). The believer needs to have this growth in understanding so we can be functioning properly. This is what allows for us to be able to know Him (Philippians 3:10) and be able to help other to be in the position they are to be as well. This is what allows for the spiritual growth which is to occur:
That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;  That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,  May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;  And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
This description given by Paul shows how much understanding we are to have of the things of the will of God. We are to have a complete understanding, which means we need to equip ourselves in a manner to where we would be able to state this is the case for us. This equipping comes from our intake of the Word of God. The Apostle Paul speaks about the importance of the Word, showing how it is important for our growth (2 Timothy 3:16-17). In this description he does state all Scripture, which does mean the entire Word of God. In this, there is to be the understanding of using the principle given on how to study, which means we are to rightly divide the Word (2 Timothy 2:15). We have to understand the doctrine which is given directly to us in order to understand and apply what is for us and what is to have the impact on our life.
1 Corinthians 4:17
For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.
The local assembly has a role in this. This is where teaching occurs which helps to equip the individual. We are to come together to hear the teaching, have the equipping occur, and be able to go out into the world to apply the things which have been taught to us. This is one of the reasons why we are to come together as a local assembly. No one individual is able to gain the knowledge they need from the Word of God on their own. We all need to be around each other in order to learn from each other and get insight into passages which we would not be able to on our own.
There is a process by which an individual gains the knowledge which they are to understand from the Word of God. Paul explains to us exactly how this process works:
1 Corinthians 2:6-16
Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought:  But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:  Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.  But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.  But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.  For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.  Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.  Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.  But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.  But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.  For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.
It is the Spirit which communicates with an individual and gives the insight into what the Word of God says. This means only a saved individual is able to get the necessary insight into what is being said. It becomes very easy to understand why those who have not put their trust in the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) are not able to see what it is that is written in the Bible. There is confusion with them, because they do not have the Spirit to give this insight.
In order for this to happen for us, we need to take in the Word of God. This is why we are told to study (2 Timothy 2:15) and are given the instructions on how to study in this same verse. It is only through the proper study of the Word of God we are able to take in information which the Spirit is going to be able to use to give us the knowledge of what is being said in the Word of God. The Spirit is able then to take the information which we have been studying and use it to teach us. Paul tells us the Spirit compares spiritual things with spiritual. The Spirit takes the passages we have been reading and compares them to each other so we can have the insight that is needed. This is how we are able to learn and understand the Word, so we know exactly what God intends for us to do during this dispensation.
The Apostle Paul gives a little more information about what is going on during this process:
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
The description of this here is called the renewing of the mind, which is accomplished through the process of transformation. The mind is transformed as the Word of God is being taken in and the Spirit is giving us the insight into what the doctrine says. This is what Paul is praying for related to the saints in Colossae.
Paul also contrasts this whole thing with the things of this world. These are the things which are designed to keep us away from the Word of God and keep us from taking the next step we are to take in our Christian life. God has a plan for us, which can only be accomplished through the study and application of His Word.
The next step in this is the issue of walking worthy. The believer is to have the Word have an impact on the things which we do in our life. While the good works are not necessary for our salvation, we will see this is what God intends for us to do as we go about our lives here on earth. This can be seen in all of Paul's epistles and we will start looking here:
This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.  For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.  But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.  Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,  Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,  Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,  Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.  And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
The Apostle Paul contrasts the ideas of walking in the Spirit and fulfilling the lust of the flesh. He does not say an individual can walk in the flesh. This is something which is impossible for a believer to do. The flesh is considered to be dead in the eyes of God (Galatians 2:20) and has been cut away from who we are (Colossians 2:11-12). Individuals who are in the flesh cannot please God (Romans 8:7); which would mean a member of the Body of Christ would be in this position if it were possible. We would also be facing condemnation (Romans 8:1, 4), which is something we cannot face because of who we are in Christ.
We can fulfill the lust of the flesh, which means we can do the things which are not pleasing to God. This is why the Apostle Paul is making the contrast in the above verses. He is giving us an idea of the things which we should not do. This is only a partial list of the things which would be part of this lust of the flesh. These are the things which we are to avoid in our lives.
Instead, we are to do the things which are the fruit of the spirit. These are the things Paul also lists in this passage. He tells us also how we should live, as this is important for us to be making sure we are doing these things.
An objection often comes up around the fact of stating good works are not important. This is being said because our salvation is not based on good works. However, this does not mean we are not to be doing these things. The Apostle Paul makes it very clear in several passages:
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,  Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;  Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;  Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.  These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.
These two passages are just examples of what we are told with this. It is clear the Word of God is giving us the information we need to be able to figure out the right things. Paul did tell believers they could look at him as an example (1 Thessalonians 2:10-12) in this. This is a big part of this walk, as we are going to have an influence on others and why we need to abstain from all appearance of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22) if we are going to have this influence on others as well.
As the Word is working in the life of the believer, it is going to produce some other things as well. The first of these is the strengthening of the individual:
For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,  Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,  That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;  That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,  May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;  And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
This strengthening allows us to be able to get through things in our lives. The Lord Jesus Christ is the source of this strength (Philippians 4:13). He does things for us above what we can possibly think (Ephesians 3:20-21). This is why the Apostle Paul can say the following about what is given to us:
2 Corinthians 1:3-7
Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;  Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.  For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.  And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.  And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.
A big part of this strengthening is the comfort which we have. God provides the comfort which we need and this is the only source of comfort which can get us through the things which we deal with in our lives. This can be seen in the fruit of the Spirit which Paul identifies as well (Galatians 5:22-23). We are given all of the things we need and need to study the Word rightly divided in order to fully understand what has been given to us.