… we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will … (Colossians 1:9)
Paul continually prayed that God would fill the church at Colossae with the knowledge of his will. In this context, Paul was not praying that the Colossians would know what God wants them to do with their lives, but rather that they would know the person and work of Jesus Christ:
The ‘knowledge of God’s will’ is more than simply an insight into how God wants his people to behave: it is an understanding of God’s whole saving purpose in Christ, and hence a knowledge of God himself. (N. T. Wright)
What Paul has in mind is not some particular or special direction for one’s life (as we often use the phrase “God’s will”), but a deep and abiding understanding of the revelation of Christ and all that he means for the universe and for the Colossians. (Douglas J. Moo)
As we’ll see over the next several days as we continue looking at the prayer Paul begins in Colossians 1:9, our growth as Christians and as a church will be directly related to the depth of our knowledge of Christ. The knowledge Paul has in mind is not merely intellectual; he is not praying that the Colossians would memorize facts about Jesus. His use of the “divine passive” (a passive tense verb with God as the implied acting agent) shows that it is not even something the Colossians could do themselves; God is the one who would fill them with this knowledge. Rather, Paul likely has in mind something like what he wrote in Philippians 3:10-11, where he expressed a desire to
know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Pray, therefore, that God would fill us with the knowledge of his will. Pray that we would have “a deep and abiding understanding of the revelation of Christ and all that he means for the universe and for [us]”. Pray that the gospel message would not be something that we vaguely know and keep tucked away in the back of our minds, but that it would impact everything that we do and overflow into every aspect of our lives.