Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Knowing and Doing

How can I pray for you? So often we say that we'll pray for someone, but it's knowing what to pray for them that is normally the issue. In some of his letters, the apostle Paul gives us an insight into his prayer life, and shares some of the things he is praying for the churches and individuals who are receiving his letters. As we continue through Colossians, he has been thanking God for the Colossian Christians' faith, love and hope, before now moving on to reveal how he is praying for them:

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 to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God... (Colossians 1:9-10)

Paul is praying regularly for them so that they will be filled with the knowledge of God's will. God's will can sometimes sound mysterious, difficult to know, spoken of in hushed tones, especially when we reserve talk of God's will for the 'big' decisions of life - where to live, who (or if) to marry, what career to pursue, how to use our gifts etc. But as we see, it's simply how God wants us to live in daily life - God's will has as much to do with how we spend our time or money as it does with who we will marry. Sometimes in focusing on the big things we neglect the little things.

So how can we know God's will? How can we know what God wants us to do? Paul mentions 'in all spiritual wisdom and understanding' - which means that we need to see things from God's perspective. And how can we do that? By listening to God as he speaks in his word. I've heard it said that 95% of God's will for our lives is straightforward laid down in Scripture - things like don't steal (so if you have the opportunity to take something that isn't yours, then it's not God's will for you to do it - easy!), don't kill and so on; with the other 5% made up of things like who exactly to marry - it's up to your discretion, with advice from godly Christians, following the basic principles God has laid down in his word (a Christian of the opposite sex in lifelong faithfulness).
Bible Study

So are you listening to God in his word? As you read the Bible, you'll discover God's will for your life, as the Spirit illuminates the word and applies it to your life and circumstances. But it's not enough just to have a head filled with knowledge. It's not enough to know what God wants you to do, if you never do it!

Paul prays that the Colossians will be filled with the knowledge of God's will 'so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord.' Knowing what God wants must lead to do what God wants. There's no point listening if you're not going to obey. Paul gives us three ways in which we can walk in a manner worthy of the Lord:

1. Fully pleasing to him - as we see the choices lying before us, we can do what pleases the Lord, or we can grieve him. Ask yourself - will how I am living my life please the Lord, as I obey him, or am I disobeying what God has said in his word?

2. Bearing fruit in every good work - will this decision/action help me to bear fruit for God (particularly the fruit of the Spirit), or will it cause me to be ashamed of the Lord?

3. Increasing in the knowledge of God - will this action help me know God better, perhaps as I step out in faith and obedience to his word, or will it turn me away from the Lord?

It can be very easy to know what God wants. It's another thing to do it. It's why Paul prays for the Colossians in this way, and it's why we continue to need to pray this for others, and for ourselves.

1 comment :

  1. Gary, thankyou for continuing to blog inspite of all your new responsibilities. I continue to listen. MrsMcF