9 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. 10 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, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:9-14, NIV)
Okay, vacation's over. Let’s get back to Colossians.
If your memory is good enough, you’ll remember that I said that Paul always had an ulterior motive with the Thanksgiving Section, using it to prepare people for what was coming. Well, the next section in many letters, the prayer section, also has a function or two.
For one thing, he’s going to use it to finish what he started in the Thanksgiving Section, helping them have an accepting attitude toward what he’s about to write. That’s what he’s gunning for in verse nine:
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.
Paul is letting them know that what he’s about to say is not just one man’s opinion, but is instead a word from God that expresses God’s will and which provides spiritual wisdom and understanding. (Slick, eh?)
Then, Paul’s going to use the prayer to tell them exactly what he hopes the letter will accomplish (verses 10-12). (More on that in a minute.)
Finally, in the conclusion of the prayer section, right before he starts the letter proper, he’s going to remind them what it’s all about, who’s really in control and who they really should serve—and why they should seriously consider what Paul is going to tell them (13-14).
Since the first part of the prayer is pretty self-explanatory, let’s move on to that purpose statement in 10-11. And what I’d like for you to notice first is how practical Paul’s purpose is.
We sometimes think God’s goal is for us to know lots of things. Nope. God only wants us to know the right things so we’ll live the right way. In every one of Paul’s letters, there is a little bit of knowledge, followed by a whole lot of practical application. We’ll get to the specifics later, but for now let me ask a simple question. When you come to a Bible study (even if it’s a blog one), what’s your goal? More knowledge or more Christ-like-ness? More information or finding ways your life can be more pleasing to God? And what difference should that make in the way you read the Bible, listen to sermons—or participate in an online Bible Blog?