For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. (NASB) (verses 9-12)
This is one of my favourite New Testament prayers, guiding so much of my own praying down the years. I preached on this passage years ago and noticed that the prayer itself is built around six key verbs. Pictures came to mind for each of them. They’ve stuck with me ever since, helping me remember the prayer’s sequence. I admit they’re slightly corny – but they’re memorable!
· Balloon “Be filled,” Paul prays. When a balloon is filled full with air there’s no room for anything else. Wouldn’t it be amazing to be filled in the same way, full to capacity, with “the knowledge of his will”? Oh, to have mind and imagination and attitudes and perspectives infused with God’s word, no part left untouched.
· Sandals “Walk.” Having traveled so many miles of his missionary journeys on foot, Paul knew something about placing one in front of the other. It’s not heroic activity. In fact, it’s just plain ordinary. But it implies movement, no holding back. Rather, constantly striding forward, step by step. And the lilt and gait is such that it is “worthy of the Lord, (pleasing) him in all respects.” This is the kind of walking the Lord smiles upon.
· Fruit “Bearing fruit.” A healthy tree brings forth good fruit, fragrant and sweet. The tree doesn’t grit teeth and exert energy – no, it simply draws nutrients from the soil, drinks deeply of its moisture and soaks up the sun’s rays. For us, the Spirit and the Word are the environment, yielding good fruit – like people coming to faith, or lives touched and mended, or justice upheld, or salt and light lived-out, or forgiveness extended. And so much more.
· Plant “Increasing.” “Growing.” This word pulses with upward momentum, like a plant reaching ever closer to the sun, then exploding into bloom. This is the ongoing trajectory of the Christian life, stretching ever further into the reality of knowing God. To really know him – that’s what we’re reaching for.
· Lightbulb “Strengthened.” “Empowered.” A lightbulb has everything necessary to produce light – except power. That can only come from outside itself. So, too, for us. We need the power of the Spirit, giving us connection with the glorious might of Almighty God himself. That’s quite a bit of power. Power enough to produce the steadfast endurance and patience God requires (qualities which demand more power than we ever would have realized).
· Gift “Giving thanks.” Joyful gratitude is meant to characterize our lives. Continually giving thanks – that’s how we’re meant to interact with the Father. We look back in wonder at all he has provided. We look ahead in joyful confidence, thanking him in advance for open doors of goodness and grace. We look around, and how can we but thank him for the greatest of all possible gifts, Jesus himself. We have been forever rescued into his kingdom of Light. Thanks be to God!
What an amazing prayer. What a rich treasure to pray for ourselves and others. If it was good enough for the Apostle Paul, it’s good enough for me.
O Lord, work all of this in me. To your glory. Amen.
Reflect: If you could only have one of these six elements in your life this day, which would you request? What’s your need at the moment? Pray for it, knowing God hears.
Photo by Deeana Arts: https://www.pexels.com/photo/yellow-balloon-on-blue-background-2418645/