I have dug out my notes for my study through Paul’s prayers in his New Testament writings, prayers that focus on God’s intervention in the church’s spiritual life. I see these types of prayers -prayers about eternal, spiritual things- as “Prime Rib Prayers.” It’s okay, and quite encouraged to lay before the Lord all of our needs. But let’s not stop at asking God for physical healing or financial provision. Let’s pray and ask God to grow us more and more into the men and women He desires for us to be, and pray the same for those around us.
Paul’s prayer in Colossians 1:9-12 starts off with, “We are asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, so that you may walk worthy of the Lord….”
The first phrase I looked at was “filled with the knowledge of His will.” Check my previous posts for the first two installments. Now I turn our attention toward the phrase, “walk worthy of the Lord…”
The six or so items in the “Prime Rib Prayer” in Colossians 1 are not separate, unrelated topics; they describe a progression. Paul prays for a filling of the knowledge of God’s will “SO THAT” you may walk worthy of the Lord…
So, once we are filled with the knowledge of what makes the Father happy, we then have the capacity to “walk worthy of the Lord.”
In Romans 6:5 Paul describes how believers have a new way of “walking,” a different way of living once we come to an understanding of our need for a Savior, “Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the Glory of the Father, so we too may walk in a new way of life.” Notice the Father’s glory is what raised Christ from the dead.
As believers in Jesus Christ, we don’t raise ourselves from a life of sin. We are raised up to walk in this new pattern of living by the power of the Father.
Elsewhere, in Galatians 2:20, Paul further explains how this new way of walking, of living, works: “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Jesus Christ is the only one who can live the Christian life. WE have a moment-by-moment decision to either cooperate with the Holy Spirit and let Christ live through us or walk in the failing power of the flesh.
To “walk worthy of the Lord” means that we are aware of our shortcomings, of our constant need for grace, and that we humbly agree to yield to the indwelling power of Christ to live and move through us.
In and of ourselves, we cannot walk in a manner worthy of the Lord. What is pleasing to the Father is for Him to see us fully dependent on Him, trusting Him to live, speak, and move through us.
The prophet Isaiah makes the quality of our good deeds quite clear: “All of us have become something unclean, and all our righteous acts are like a polluted garment; all of us wither like a leaf and our iniquities carry us away like the wind.” (Isaiah 64:6) It cannot be us who generate the ability for ourselves to walk, to live, in a way that pleases God.
So, then, doesn’t this progression leave us high and dry? Set us up for failure? Why should we be filled with an understanding of what pleases God if we don’t have the ability to carry out these things?
So that we can know God’s heart, and so we can ask him for strength and ability to walk obediently in specific ways. In and of myself I know I can’t muster up the ability to forgive people who have deeply wounded me. But God is clear in the Bible that we are to forgive one another as many times as the person offends us.
So, when I read the passages in Scripture about forgiveness, it becomes easy to see that forgiveness pleases the Father, that relational reconciliation matters to Him in His carefully crafted system of living.
Therefore, I am compelled to humbly pray and ask God to soften my heart toward the person who has wounded me, and ask for the supernatural ability to genuinely forgive this person.
This progression in Paul’s prayer has a built-in means of making us see our absolute need, our utter reliance on God to do anything remotely pleasing to Him.
As we “walk worthy of the Lord” by relying on Him to live the Christian life through us, a special spiritual intimacy cannot help but develop before our very eyes!
Next post: “Fully Pleasing To Him…”