I’ll bet you pray too small.
Colossians 1:9–14 (NIV)
9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and 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, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people 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.
Paul, in prison in Ephesus, must often have felt like a mother duck. Here was he in a little church, just starting up, full of energy and enthusiasm but hardly yet aware of the great dangers and problems that were to be faced. He can’t even be with them in person to guide them and teach them. The mother duck has to rely on instinct—her own, and that of her recently born babies—to see them through. But ordinary human instinct alone won’t get the young church through to maturity. Human instincts are important, but they remain earthbound. When people become Christians, God implants into them a new sense of his presence and love, his guiding and strengthening. This sense needs nurturing and developing. New Christians need to understand what’s happening to them, and how they must co-operate with the divine life that’s gently begun to work in them.
Paul, in prison, can help this process in two ways: by writing, as he is doing, but supremely by prayer. He may not be with the Colossians in person. But the God who is with them is also with him, and in the mystery (and hard work) of prayer he can help their progress towards Christian maturity. That is what he’s been doing; so, it appears later, has Epaphras (4:12–13). And in this paragraph he tells them what they have been praying for as they think of Colossae. Whether you’re a new Christian yourself, needing to grow in the faith, or a Christian leader, wanting to nurture those in your care, Paul’s prayer for the new church in Colossae provides a wonderful pattern. – N.T. Wright
This long sentence begins with “for this reason” (v. 9a), which connects it with the previous section. The main clause points to Paul’s incessant prayer on behalf of the Colossians (v. 9c-d). He prays that they might be filled with the proper knowledge (v. 9e) in order to live properly in the Lord (v. 10a). The four participial clauses introduced by four adverbial participles (“bearing fruit,” v. 10b; “growing,” v. 10c; “being strengthened,” v. 11a; “giving thanks,” v. 12a) modify the verb “walk” in 10a, but the exact relationship between the participles and the verb is not clear. They might characterize ways to “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord,” but they might also specify the means through which such a “walk” is possible. The parallelism among these four clauses is further reinforced by the presence of an adverbial modifier within each of these clauses. In the lengthier, fourth participial clause (v. 12a), Paul discusses the work of God in the relative clause (v. 13a-b). This clause in turn leads to the introduction of “his beloved Son” (v. 13b) and the redemptive work accomplished through him (v. 14). This “Son,” who appears here only in a subordinate clause, will become the main subject of the following section (1:15–20), which extols his supremacy both in status and in his work in and beyond history. David W. Pao
Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you…. When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble. Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life. Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evildoers. (Prov 4:5–6, 12–14).