Colossians 1:9 9For this reason we also, since the day we heard, have not stopped praying for you and asking in order that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 

Verse 9 begins another long sentence that continues through verse 12. Paul now states more of the contents of his prayer. Verses 3-8 express why he gives thanks, namely the faith, love, and hope the Colossians had shown since they first became believers. Verses 9-12 move more into petitionary prayer. This is what Paul asks God to do in their lives. From thanksgiving comes intercession. This is suggested by the opening transition for this reason. This has been a corporate prayer shown by we also. This likely included Paul, Timothy, Epaphras, and others

Paul had constant prayer for the Colossians since the day we heard. There is no object given of what they heard, but the context suggests that this refers to when they first became believers under the ministry of Epaphras. Paul’s prayer for them had been constant since that time. They were part of his petitionary prayer list. Since he writes similar statements to other churches, he must have had a long prayer list as he went through the list of the places he had been, the people he had met, and the believers about whom he knew.

What Paul prayed for is given in a purpose clause (hina) that has several noteworthy parts to it. The basic goal of Paul’s prayer was for the Colossians to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will. The passive voice of this verb indicates that this is God’s work in answer to Paul’s prayer. Experiencing this filling should be the primary goal for all believers. There are many things we would like to know about God’s plan for us, especially related to our future or what we should do about certain situations. We want God to lay out our lives for us so we can go our merry way. But that is not what Paul was asking in behalf of the Colossians. This type of prayer is selfish and nearsighted.

Rather, Paul focuses in on God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding. The word spiritual (pneumatikē) describes both wisdom and understanding. Spiritual wisdom is awareness of how God wants his people to act in this world in conformity to his will. Wisdom is experiential knowledge that is combined with worship. It leads to thinking and acting in ways that glorify God. Spiritual understanding (synesei) is deep insight into spiritual matters. It involves looking at the facts and data and knowing what to do with these. Its focus is on learning about God in order to grow closer to God in dependent faith and commitment. Both of these come through study of God’s word, time in prayer, and mentoring under godly teachers. The work of the Holy Spirit is in the background, using all of these to grow believers into the likeness of Jesus Christ, which is God’s will for us.

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