Prayer Cycle: Col 1:9-14

So in my spare time as a father of five and working full time, I manage to squeeze in some time for a Masters Degree program.  I have just started and really enjoying diving deep into God’s word and finding understanding that brings a closer connection to Christ.  It has been hard this past few weeks trying to not treat the Bible as a reference source only.  I didn’t think it would be this hard, but at times it did feel rather dry trying to research for a paper covering Collossians 1:9-14.

To tell the truth I felt more stressed than ever trying to read and understand God’s word.  It was one day in my studies that the heart of this passage hit me though.  When we pray to God we are praying for understanding as well.  Through what we read in the Bible, God reveals to us through prayer and supplication, on how it shapes and affects life as a Christ follower.  This concept was not foreign to me per se, but it was a fresh revealing of the need to search after God’s understanding, and not my own.

Through understanding God’s word we then bear good fruit out of our lives.  This cycle then feeds back into itself to start again: Read, Pray, Live out and repeat. Christ is continually redeeming us through this process and it draws us ever close to Him.

If you are up for it, below is my paper on the passage, enjoy.


Paul’s letter to the church of Colossae was written after hearing accounts of their status and growth.  These accounts lead Paul to address Colossae about the supremacy of Christ and what that looks like lived out. It is the scope of this paper to focus on how Paul, in Chapter 1 verses 9-14, presents the heart and focus, shaping the rest of his letter. This passage shows that prayer reveals knowledge of God and through that understanding changes how followers should live. This concept is not static but cyclical and creates a system of understanding that feeds into itself to form a life more perfectly lived.

Letter to Colossae

Context of the letter

This letter to the Church of Colossae was written around 62 A.D.[1] This letter focused on key elements to help the followers focus on helping believers to grow deeper and broader in their faith.  There is some discrepancy as to the exact reason behind the issues that were surrounding this early church.  Despite this there is a common theme to return and focus on the supremacy and sufficiency of Christ.  This leads to the belief that there were extra biblical teachings being spread in this body of early followers.[2] Although the reasons for the letter were written in the time of the early Church, the message is still applicable today and serves as a lesson and warning to stay focused on Christ’s message and to continually grow in Him.

It has been discussed by many scholars that Paul was imprisoned at the time of the letters writing, though there are disagreements of exactly where.[3] There are several implications that come from this that help to give a clearer understanding of the heart of the writings.   Despite the issue of where Paul was in chains the voice of the letter comes out as one praising Christ and His supremacy.  Paul is lifting up praises out of his current situation to not only give God glory over any circumstance, but also as an example to encourage others.[4] If it was not for this bondage, the main themes of prayer, Christ’s sufficiency and how better understanding brings a deeper relationship with Christ may not be seen as genuine to those who are suffering.  Paul is physically bound and without any way to reach others physically, but through this letter he is able to build Christ’s body beyond any obstacle.  It is by this, Paul is given authority to speak on Christ’s sufficiency and spread the message of how that looks lived out.  Out of suffering and bondage Paul gives the example of how knowing Christ brings peace even in the harshest circumstances.

Addressing the needs of the church of Colossae is just as important as the circumstances under which the letter was written.  This letter was written in response to reports Paul was receiving regarding what was happening in the church of Colossae.[5]  The exact circumstances that caused the writing of the letter have been disputed, but overall there were teachings and practices being performed to that were focusing on manmade spirituality.[6]  The main concerns that were addressed follow throughout Paul’s writing, supremacy of Christ, sufficiency of Christ, growing in Christ and what a life lived for Christ looks like in action, not an action given beforehand to reach Christ.  By addressing these topics Paul is able to overcome the false teachers and their teachings that express a need to enhance a Christian’s life, leaving the work of salvation to the believer rather than Christ.

Meaning of the Letter

The meaning of Colossians 1:9-14 is found in the initial addressing in the first two verses.  Verse nine states he was praying for the Colossians to be “filled with the knowledge of his will in spiritual wisdom and understanding.” [7]  Then in verse 10 Paul was expressing that in all things he desired for the followers in Colossae to “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord” (Col. 1:10 ESV).  These two verses complement each other by expressing what he unfolds in the following verses.  Paul’s desire was for the Colossians to be knowledgeable and then use that knowledge to walk in a way that is pleasing to the Lord.  This knowledge does not come out of mans understanding but through understanding of what God is teaching, then through application we display that understanding.[8] This process that Paul writes about in these two verses is one that is continual and reciprocating, the more knowledge gained through understanding the more closely a life is lived to God’s will.

Verse 11 continues the above message, changing however from how the Colossians should live to how they are to live it out with the help of God.  Paul states “may you be strengthened with all power” (Col. 1:11 ESV), showing that not only does the reader need God’s understanding but they need His power to live it out.[9]  This is extremely important as Paul is identifying that while we are to study and try to live out what we are learning, without God’s help it will never happen.  The life lived by learning apart from God’s living power is dry and disconnected from how it was designed to be.

The following verses, 12-14, frame up the importance for thanksgiving to God and the all sufficiency of His Son, Jesus.  In verse 12 Paul discusses the inheritance that as followers of Christ, we have in God.  What once was reserved for people of Jewish heritage is now common among all peoples who believe in Christ.[10]  This belief and life in Christ draws us out of what is referred to as the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of light in verse 13.  The importance of both verse 12 and 13 is that not only are we all now God’s people, but we are saved together and together we are to give thanks back to God for our common salvation.[11]

Finally, in the end of verse 13 and verse 14 we see the focus on the supremacy of Christ.  Verse 13 says “we are transferred to the kingdom of His Beloved Son,” and in 14, “in whom we have redemption” (Colossians 1:13-14, ESV).  These two verses bring into focus the reason why we have salvation and the reason we should be offering up thanksgiving to God.  This knowledge is the ultimate knowledge that feeds into itself in continual growth as well.  The more that is understood about salvation, the closer a Christ-like life is lived out, finally lifting in praise to God for His redeeming followers through Christ.[12]

Significance of the Letter

Paul’s letter to the Colossians has great significance to not only the Church he was addressing then, but across time to the present as well.  Never has there been a time when false teachers weren’t present, or extra-biblical ideas weren’t prevalent.  Since the times of the early Church, Colossae being no exception, a continual reminder is needed to help focus followers on the true meaning behind following Christ.  It was not so much that the Colossians were grossly out of sync with what Christ taught, but that they needed some loving reminder of what it means to follow Christ, and what that looks like.

From verse 9 through 14 we see a deep heart for the Colossians.  Paul is praying for them through the entirety of this passage. He wanted them to know his heart and why he was addressing them.  Paul was expressing for understanding for the Colossians and that the Spirit would modify their wisdom and understanding.  This modification is a change of their inner understanding of the knowledge of Christ.[13]  It is out of this inner understanding that the out pouring of God’s love bears fruit in a follower’s life.

Out of understanding a follower is being sanctified more and more.  The more a person prays for understanding, the more understanding takes place, and the more that followers bear spiritual fruit in their lives.[14] This is a continual process again that feeds back providing growth and sanctification through a follower’s whole life.  This is the significance and heart of Paul’s letter, that focusing on God’s word through prayer brings understanding that will shape and change their lives continually.  This idea is made plain by Matthew Henry in his commentary on this passage, “All who are ready for heaven, are prepared for heaven now.”[15] Followers must be living out their understanding and showing, through the fruit in their lives, what they truly believe.

In the last half, verses 12-14, Paul discusses the supremacy of Christ and His sufficiency.  The only reason followers are made sufficient in God’s eyes is because of Christ’s sacrifice.  Without this all mankind would only qualify for God’s wrath, rather than the salvation that all have in Christ.[16] Christ saved all of humanity and we should see it as a favor that we were taken from Satan’s kingdom of darkness and adopted into Christ’s kingdom of light.[17]  It is this last point that brings us back to the first point of Paul asking the followers in Colossae to be giving thanks to God.  Without His great plan, none would be able to be saved.

Application of the letter

Through this essay, the idea of sanctification through the circular practice of praying for understanding of God’s word, bringing forth knowledge of God that in turn bears fruit in a follower’s life.  As a person grows and keeps following this principle they are continually sanctified in Christ.  Putting this into practice should not be a great burden but a natural outpouring of a believer’s faith.

Being fruitful will however allow a follower to see the active growth they are both partaking in as well as desiring.  Being steadfast in the knowledge of God’s will, will take hold of them.  This does take effort and requires a believer to bear their cross for a lifetime.[18]  The principle is simple but takes discipline and continual prayer focusing on God.  This is not a prayer that is one time and at length, but steady and over time.  This is what continual sanctification means, a process that followers take part in for the entirety of their time in this life.

Putting this to action Paul lines out what to do throughout verses 9-14.  First Paul calls to followers to “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord,” living a life that is for God, not against.  Developing an understanding by Prayer and study of God’s word. Finally giving thanks to God and focusing on what He has done for us.  Paul give a great example in how he joyously gives thanks for the blessing in eternal life, inheritance, with all saints.[19] There are no boundaries in who follows Christ, but be strengthened by the knowledge that believers live in a community.


In the end as a follower practices what Paul explains in verses 9-14, understanding of God should be continually feeding into a follower’s life producing Christ like attributes.  This is the heart of what Paul is trying to express in this passage.  Seeking knowledge of God in prayer and supplication for His power to help in bringing forth that understanding.  This is a two-step process that requires both halves to function properly.  There can be great knowledge of God’s word but little to no understanding of what that means if a person is not seeking His power to help them gain wisdom.  Just as important to growing in understanding is offering up thanksgiving to God for revealing His knowledge and saving His followers from the kingdom of Satan.

Paul is addressing the idea that God’s word and God’s spirit are needed to bring forth a complete understanding.  As John Calvin stated:

“the Gospel is the only message that is accompanied by the power of the Holy Spirit to convert the sinful individual and make him or her capable of pleasing God”[20]

This idea that one cannot happen without the other is what upholds the thesis of this paper in that a believer grows through a process that feeds back into itself.  Through this a follower continually grows through understanding only brought on by God’s power, resulting in good fruit coming out of that understanding.  By this then we also see that not only are we partaking in this process, but God interjected Himself into our lives to give us the strength to do so.


[1] The Holy Bible English Standard Version: the ESV study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 2290.

[2] Ibid

[3] Christopher R. Sietz, Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible: Colossians. (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos 2014), 29.

[4] Christopher R. Sietz, Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible: Colossians. (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos 2014), 31.

[5] 8.essedrove, US: IVP Academi Lucas, R. C. The Bible Speaks Today Series: The Message of Colossians & Philemon. (Downers Grove, US: IVP Academic.) 8. 8.essedrove, US: IVP Academi

[6] The Holy Bible English Standard Version: the ESV study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 2290.

[7] The Holy Bible English Standard Version: the ESV study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 2294.

[8] Heil, John Paul. 2010. Colossians: Encouragement to Walk in All Wisdom As Holy Ones in Christ. (Atlanta, GA: Society of Biblical Literature, 2010), 56.

[9] Ibid.

[10] The Holy Bible English Standard Version: the ESV study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 2294.

[11] Heil, John Paul. 2010. Colossians: Encouragement to Walk in All Wisdom As Holy Ones in Christ. (Atlanta, GA: Society of Biblical Literature, 2010), 58.

[12] Lucas, R. C. The Bible Speaks Today Series: The Message of Colossians & Philemon. (Downers Grove, US: IVP Academic.) 15.

[13] MacArthur, John.  The MacArthur Bible commentary: unleashing God’s truth, one verse at a time. (Nashville, TN: 2005) 1732.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Henry, Matthew.  Matthew Henry’s concise commentary on the whole Bible. (Nashville, TN: 1997) Kindle.

[16] Ibid MacArthur, John.

[17] Henry, Matthew.  Matthew Henry’s concise commentary on the whole Bible. (Nashville, TN: 1997) Kindle.

[18] Melanchthon, Philipp. Bloomsbury Academic Collections: Biblical Studies: Paul’s letter to the Colossians.  (London: GB, 2015) 35.

[19] Rydelnik, Michael and Michael G Vanlaningham.  The Moody Bible Commentary. (Chicago, IL: 2014) Kindle.

[20] Thornton, Dilion T. “Colossians 1:1-14 .” The Expository Times 124, no. 9 (May 15, 2013): 438.


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