By Dr. Brian Bailey
The Apostle Paul has handed to us several prayers preserved in the Holy Scriptures, not only that we might read them, but that we might pray them. They are examples of prayers which should mould our own prayer life and desires. One of these prayers is found in Colossians 1:9.
1:9 - “For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.” What does Paul pray and desire for this church which he has never even seen? First, it is that they be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. I want to look at this thought of the knowledge of His will. Have you ever been asked by someone, “What is the will of God?” Sometimes it might be difficult for us to know how to reply. However, Scripture answers Scripture. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 states:
“For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God.”
If we walk in the Spirit, and we are willing to wait for the one of His choosing, then the Lord will join us in His time with the one of His appointment.
In the progression from faith to love in 2 Peter chapter one (see pgs. 103-106), the step after faith is virtue, which is moral purity. We must be clear and certain that God wants us to be virtuous. He wants us to have moral purity, and 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 shows us how to obtain it. One should abstain from fornication.
What are some other aspects of the will of God for us as Christians? Romans 8:4 tells us, “That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” The will of God is that we walk in the Spirit. It is not enough just to be filled with the Spirit. We must walk in the Spirit so that we can completely fulfil the will of God, and not fulfil the lusts of the flesh (Gal. 5:16, 25).
The will of God can even go deeper, touching such issues as whom we should marry. The Scriptures are very clear on marriage. It is the Lord’s responsibility to join two people together (Mt. 19:6). Therefore, if it is the Lord who joins a couple in marriage, then that marriage has been preordained before the foundation of the world.
Thus, we should enter into rest concerning marriage. We should trust the Lord to make it clear to us whom He has chosen to be our spouse.
Another guideline for marriage that the Scriptures give us is that we are not to be unequally yoked with an unbeliever (2 Cor. 6:14). Not only should we marry a Christian, but we should marry a Christian who has the same vision and calling as we do. I have seen people marry in haste, and then regret it for the rest of their lives. We must know whom the Lord wants us to marry. Also, you should naturally be attracted to the person God has chosen for you, for God works in us through desire. It sounds very spiritual to say, “I did not like my spouse when I got married, but I married her anyway because I thought it was the Lord’s will.”
Wisdom is knowing how to make the right choice, but understanding is knowing why a choice is the right one.
However, I do not agree with this rationale. If we walk in the Spirit, and we are willing to wait for the one of His choosing, then the Lord will join us in His time with the one of His appointment. Furthermore, we will be glad and rejoice over His choice; for His choice will be ours.
All things are comprehended in the knowledge of His will for us. In this, there are two basic areas of need:
that we keep our bodily sanctification, and
that we walk in the Spirit. If we walk in the Spirit, all the other things we need will be added unto us.
Paul continues in his prayer in verse nine, “In all wisdom and spiritual understanding.” Wisdom is consistently emphasised throughout the Word of God. Proverbs 4:7 says, “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” This was the advice given to Solomon throughout his formative years by his parents, David and Bathsheba. Wisdom is emphasised again and again in Proverbs. When God spoke to Solomon and asked him, “What do you want Me to give you?” Solomon answered, “Give Your servant wisdom.” Solomon asked for this priceless commodity, rather than riches and honour as many other people would have asked for; and that was because his father David had constantly emphasised to him the importance of wisdom.
It is important to know the will of God, but knowledge alone is not sufficient. We must also have wisdom along with knowledge. Wisdom teaches us how to act in any given circumstance. It also enables us to make the right choices. Ecclesiastes 2:26 says, “God giveth to a man that is good in his sight wisdom, and knowledge, and joy: but to the sinner he giveth travail, to gather and to heap up, that he may give to him that is good before God. This also is vanity and vexation of spirit.” Receiving the favour and blessing of God is very much dependent upon our walk. If we please God, He gives us wisdom, knowledge, and joy. Wisdom is a gift of God, and nothing else compares with it; but God deprives the rebellious of this treasure.
Receiving the favour and blessing of God is very much dependent upon our walk. If we please God, He gives us wisdom, knowledge, and joy.
We return now to Paul's prayer in Colossians 1:9, "That ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding." There is a difference between wisdom and understanding. Wisdom is knowing how to make the right choice; but understanding is knowing why a choice is the right one. Therefore, we need to cry out, “Lord, please give me understanding of Your purposes for my life!”
One aspect of understanding is seen in Daniel 1:17. Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. Nebuchadnezzar had a dream that came from God. However, of what benefit is a dream if you cannot understand it? When a dream or vision comes from God, human interpretation is not sufficient. God-given dreams, visions, and prophecies require God-given interpretations as well. We have known many tragic examples of people who have genuinely received a vision, a prophecy, or a dream from God, but because of a lack of spiritual understanding, they made a shipwreck of their life by misinterpreting what they received. Thus, spiritual understanding is of utmost importance.
Throughout Scripture there is much said about the subject of understanding. In Proverbs 3:5 we are exhorted, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” In Hebrews 11:3 we are told, “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” Therefore, we see that faith and understanding are linked together—“through faith we understand.”