Praying out of Dead-End Alleys and Dark Dungeons

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Be assured that from the first day we heard of you, we haven’t stopped praying for you, asking God to give you wise minds and spirits attuned to his will, and so acquire a thorough understanding of the ways in which God works. We pray that you’ll live well for the Master, making him proud of you as you work hard in his orchard. As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.

 God rescued us from dead-end alleys and dark dungeons. He’s set us up in the kingdom of the Son he loves so much, the Son who got us out of the pit we were in, got rid of the sins we were doomed to keep repeating.”  (Col 1: 9-14 MSG )

Such a  mighty passage, outlining the task of prayer.

Perhaps “task” is the wrong word, however. It sounds onerous and dutiful. Paul always prayed like an explosion of joy, like a children’s birthday party, full of laughter and grace.

So how did Paul pray? What did he pray for? And how does that information shape our own praying?

He began by ensuring them of his loyalty to them.”You are always on my mind.”

And, like a proud and doting parent, he insists: “I only want the very best for you.”

And what is that? It’s that you’re  “filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual intelligence.” Filled. Crammed. Satiated. Not just getting by with as little as possible, but filled with “the knowledge of his will.

The Greek word for “knowledge” in this passage is epignosis; It means knowledge which is the result of practical and personal experience, and not just academic or intellectual ability.

That is to say, our knowledge of God’s will is to be something we have come by through working it out by the way we live. It comes by keeping your testimony bang up to date. It comes through praying. It comes through reading God’s book “in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.”

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5)

Paul prays for them what he found for himself, “...that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets.” (Eph  3-5)

It’s important to get the facts straight. It’s important to know and relate to the Fact-giver because God’s people have always been destroyed by a lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6).  But once you know something, you can act upon it.As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work.

Paul prays out of the long story of his walk with Jesus. It’s as if he’s saying:

“It hasn’t been an easy road,but it’s been wonderful. Humanly speaking, many things have gone wrong, but I’m still here, still standing, still praising God. And I can tough it out to the very end, just because I know the one who has called me, and that knowledge is enough to keep me steady.

In fact, more than that, my knowledge of the way He has worked in my life (and in the history of the world) turns my praying not into a sad head-shaking litany of woes  (Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen! I could tell you a few stories…) but into a praise-song bursting with gratitude for everything bright and beautiful that God has brought my way.”

” God rescued us from dead-end alleys and dark dungeons. He’s set us up in the kingdom of the Son he loves so much, the Son who got us out of the pit we were in, got rid of the sins we were doomed to keep repeating.”

It’s all good. It’s all God.

Pray like that.

 

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