“And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,…” – Colossians 1:9 (ESV)
Paul the Apostle was a man of prayer and filled with love for those who had come to know the saving faith of Jesus through his ministry. One of the servant messengers had brought to Paul a good report. This is Epaphras (Epaphroditus), Likely the same one who carried messages and support to Paul from the believers in Philippi (Philippians 4:18). Because of this good report of them from Epaphras, he continued to pray for them. Paul’s ceaseless prayer does not mean that he prayed without ever stopping but that he never forgot to pray for them when he regularly prayed each day. Paul’s primary petition was that God would fill them with the knowledge of His will. There are two key words, “fill” and “knowledge” which Paul used. The first suggests a filling out to entirety, and the latter is a full, deep understanding. Knowledge of this kind, and of God’s will, does not come from a natural or fleshly mind, but from the Word of God through the Holy Spirit who, dwelling in us enlightens our spirit. That is our promise ⸺spiritual wisdom from the Holy Spirit.
“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:13-14 (ESV)
Let’s take a look at a promise we find in a Scripture verse that has been quoted, sung and used in many ways. Most times it is used like a call for HELP! From folks in our country. When circumstances are not the best this verse is turned to as if it is a direct promise to all who call on God. It can be but it also might not apply. The context is Israel at the time of the dedication of the Temple built by Solomon. God give a prophetic warning because He knows His people will fall into disobedience to His Word. “Then,” says God, “I’ll stop the rain and send spoil your crops.” But for them and for us God gave a recourse, five steps to the blessing. First our standing – “called by my name.” Second, our posture – “humbled.” Third our action – “pray”. Fourth next action – “seek God’s face.” Fifth another action – “turn (repent) of our wickedness.” If we claim to have no wickedness, we lie. (1 John 1:6) When we want to use this promise as a means to restore our nations, we are obligated to first to the Five Steps.
“And Hannah prayed and said, “My heart exults in the LORD; my horn is exalted in the LORD. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in your salvation.”” 1 Samuel 2:1 (ESV )
Hannah was a godly woman and one we learn from her faith and her life story. The verse we have today is the beginning of her song and prayer of thanksgiving after she had placed Samuel with the priests in the temple. Hanna says “I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives he is lent to the Lord.” This was an offering of her son to God’s service. It was also the plan of God for Samuel. Hannah had long prayed for a son and once God answered that prayer, she wanted to give him back. This prayer is one of the earliest poems in the Old Testament. It was well known in the days of Jesus. Mary, incorporated Hanna’s prayer into her own song of triumph, the Magnificat. God indeed hears our earnest prayers and answers them according to His will. For Hannah, who pleads with God and receives her request. It was the most natural thing for her to do. She received God’s promise of a positive answer to Her prayer. She rejoiced in the salvation God provided to her and gave back her gift. Let’s rejoice in His salvation today.
“See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people. Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:15-18 (NASB)
If we include the last instruction in verse 14 of this chapter, we learn to “be patient with everyone.” And so, the next instruction teaches us that retaliation is not an option for a Christ believer. Paul the Apostle, writing this letter to the Church in Thessalonica is keenly, from personal experience, aware of the normal reaction we have when others do us wrong. It does not matter who does the wrong, believer or non-believer, we do not repay a wrong with a wrong. This is so very different than what we learn from the world. “If someone hits you, you hit back, harder.” That is the normal way most of us might have thought. But our promise today can be found in the next three instructions. Let’s look at them in the reverse order given in the verses. Give thanks for everything and in everything – God wills that to be our pattern. We give thanks for everything by praying on a regular basis. Make prayers a practice and that is where we can honestly give thanks all the time. What will be the result in our lives, in our attitude, in our perspective on life? We will rejoice always.