Prayers of Paul - The KFC Prayer (Colossians 1:9-14) — A Christian Growth Message - Hope 103.2

Prayers of Paul – The KFC Prayer (Colossians 1:9-14) — A Christian Growth Message

A series untangling some of the Prayers of the Apostle Paul by Simon Manchester of Hope 103.2's Christian Growth and pastor at All Saints in Woollahra.

By Simon ManchesterSunday 2 Jun 2024Christian Growth with Simon ManchesterFaithReading Time: 1 minute

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Father, we thank you for this precious word that you’ve given in the scriptures. We thank you for these few minutes that we have to sit under your word and to learn from you and we pray that what we know not you would teach us, what we have not you would give to us, what we are not you would make us. We ask it in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Now, friends, we’re looking at some of the great prayers in the New Testament prayers prayed by the apostle Paul. And we’re looking at these prayers for a number of reasons. One is that we want to escape sad empty prayers that we ourselves might pray.

We uh want to know how to pray wise things and that’s why we’re looking at what Paul prayed. And today we come to a very practical prayer. If ever you’ve come to church in the past and you’ve said to yourself at the end. Well, what possible use was that for my life, for my problems. Let me assure you that today the passage is incredibly useful. I don’t think it’s possible to go out saying those verses are a waste of time.

I remember hearing a story of a family driving home from church and the father was particularly grumpy about the church. He thought the service was dreadful. He thought the sermon was dreadful. He thought the minister was dreadful and he was whinging and complaining all the way home. And his young son who’d obviously been watching the offertory plate come round, said to his dad in from the backseat. but dad not bad for a dollar. Was it not bad for a dollar? And um so that’s a little joke linked to the offer tree announcement of the last minute.

So if you’re thinking this particular word of scripture that we’ve been given is not practical today, you’ll see it’s very practical. And if you’re ever praying for a missionary or a friend or a family member or people of this church or leaders or people like yourself. Colossians, 19-14 is an excellent prayer.

This is a prayer where Paul asks God to help his people do three things. One know his will what to do. Second, not give up the faith. And thirdly to be joyful, I can’t think of anything more useful to pray for you or you for me than that. I would know what God wants me to do that I would not give up the faith and that I would be joyful and not miserable. Now, before we look at the prayer, I need to say something to you about the letter, why the letter was written because all the letters of the New Testament have a special purpose.

I’m not a golf player, but all the letters are like clubs in a golf bag. They’ve all got a particular usefulness. They’re all to do one particular thing. And the Colossians church that Paul was writing to was not a church that he had found it, but it was going well and he had heard that the church was going well. And so he’s very glad to hear that, but it’s also a church. If you read carefully, that’s being contaminated by error. And the error that he is sneaking into the church is what people have called spiritual one upmanship.

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That is, there’s a group in the church who are just a little bit more spiritual boastful and are making a big deal of it. And uh part of the reason is they say, well, we’ve had experiences that you’ve never had and we’ve got secret information that you’ve never had. And Paul says that’s rubbish in the Church of God, in the family of God. You don’t have an A class or a B class or AC class.

Everything that Christ gives to a believer, he gives to every believer when you come to Christ with empty hands, no secret sins, and you take hold of Christ’s hands. Everything he has is for every believer.

Christ is like a resort that you’ve turned up to for your holiday. The people say it’s all yours. Christ is like a supermarket that you’ve walked into. Everything is available. Christ is like a library that you’ve walked into.

Everything is to be learned. It’s all available to all his people. So Paul is very happy for their faith. He’s not so happy about the false teaching and now he prays for their faith to grow and not fail. How does he know that they are real believers? Well, it’s obvious that a real Christian life is bursting out of these Colossians. Christians, I want to say again, you cannot begin a relationship with Christ.

If you want to bargain with him, you cannot begin a relationship with Christ. If you want to pick and choose, he is the king. But when we surrender completely, he transforms completely.

It’s like joining the hose of your garden. If there’s a, a rock or a stick or a snail in the connection, you’re just not going to be able to get the water to flow through the hose. But when you clear what’s in the connection onto the tap and out comes the water. So you might be listening to me this morning and you might be thinking, look, I think there’s something missing, something missing in my Christian life. You know, I’ve come to church, I’ve come to the talk and I’ve come to the morning tea eventually, but I’m just not sure that I’ve really come to Christ.

Well, these Colossians had come to Christ and uh our hope of course is that everybody who hears the good news will come to Christ. It’s one of the reasons we run the Christianity explored. So you’ve got the passage in front of you. Page um, 1753, a prayer that has three points this morning first, that we might know and do the very excellent will of God.

That’s the 1st second that we might press on with the power and the might that he gives us. And the third thing is that we might be thankful for very, very real Christian benefits.

So first of all, to know and do the very excellent will of God verses nine and 10, you see verse nine, we’ve not stopped praying for you says Paul, meaning we’ve not given up praying for you. And we’re asking God to help you to know His will. In other words, we’re asking God to help you to know what he is doing in his world and therefore what you should be doing.

Can you see that it’s very important for us to know what God is doing in his world. Very important. Just before we think this prayer is all about me and my guidance and who I should marry and what work I should have and where I should live and what shirt I should wear and what should I do with my day.

Now, Paul wants us to know what God is doing. And the thing that God is doing is he is getting out the gospel message of Christ around the world. God is getting out the gospel message of Christ which brings people back to himself.

So God’s will you see for the world is more than that, we would just enjoy ourselves and have some sunshine and some food and some coffee and watch Netflix and watch sport, all of which is a gift from God.

But his will for the world is bigger. It’s eternal, his will for the world is that people would come to have eternal life and enter into his family and his kingdom forever. So it’s very important to know what God’s big will is to know what God is doing in his world. Otherwise we’re going to be like people who are walking onto a stage in a theater and don’t really know what the play is and we have no script.

That’s what it’ll be like that. God has told us what he’s doing in his world. We’ve got the script. The script is scripture. Graham Goldsworthy says in one of his books, you don’t need to be a Christian to be a technical genius. You don’t need to be a Christian to be the best motor mechanic. So you don’t need to be a Christian to be a clever person, but you do need to be a Christian to know where the world is going. So no wonder Paul prays.

You see that God’s people will see God’s plan more clearly who they are, who they belong to, why they’re here in the world and where the world is going. He wants people to know God’s plan, but he also wants Christians to know what God’s will for us is what are we to do in his world day by day? That’s worth knowing, isn’t it?

And you’ll see in verse 10, he says, I want you to know the will of God so that you can live worthily of God, pleasing Him bearing fruit in every good work growing in the knowledge of God. I want you to know, says Paul, so that you’ll live so that you’ll know Him better.

I want you to know what He wants you to do so that you’ll live wisely and know Him better. One writer says, this is delightfully circular because we get to know the big plan of God, how we fit into it. And as we walk in his way, we get to know Him better.

So there’s lots of things we could be doing today, aren’t there? God has given us wonderful freedoms. He’s not dictating to us where we should sit what we should eat when we should go for a walk. He’s given us absolutely wonderful freedoms. But Paul is praying that we’ll be wise as we think about the life that we have in this world. So when we’re praying for our missionaries, like Michael and Ronnie missionaries in Belgium.

We can be praying something like this heavenly father. Please help them to believe the great plan you have for the world. We don’t want them to stop believing that.

But we also want them to know how to live their life well, because they’re in a foreign country and they don’t know the country very well and the language very well and the people very well. But we’re praying that you will help them to know how to take steps in your service. Such a practical prayer.

We don’t live in church, do we? We’re only here for an hour. We’re mostly out in the real world and we need to know, don’t we how to live in the world in a way that pleases God bears fruit and grows in the knowledge of God. And God is able to hear this prayer and wonderfully answer it last night. When I was putting some notes on a piece of paper for this morning, I rang up John Anderson and he said, um he said, I’ve had a wonderful day today. He said, I’ve been interviewing John Cleese, you know who I’m talking about Monty Python, etcetera. He said, I’ve just spent a couple of hours interviewing John Cleese. And he said, uh we walked into the street and I’m standing there with him and a man recognizes, of course, John Cleese and comes running over and says, could I have a photo with the three of you.

And then uh John Cleese moves off into his car or taxi or whatever. And John Anderson’s left with this young man and he starts talking to the young man about his life and the young man says, actually my life is a big vacuum and John Anderson said I spent an hour talking to him about the Christian faith.

Just an amazing thing, isn’t it? You’re not planning it, you’re not expecting it. But perhaps you’ve asked in the morning, uh Lord, how could I be useful today? And suddenly this door opens wide. This is the prayer that we’re talking about that. We would not only know what God is doing in his world, but somehow we would know how to live well as well. We don’t want to be those people who live unworthily for Christ. We don’t want to be those people whose life is a contradiction of the Gospel.

Sometimes, you know, I have uh bumped into a person who works at a particular company and in the course of the conversation I’ve said, I actually know a friend of mine who goes to the local church who works in your company.

And then there’s a long pause and the person says something like this. I would never have picked them for a Christian. That’s a dreadful comment. It’s a dreadful comment. Now, we need to be living worthily reflecting the grace that God has given to us pleasing him bearing fruit.

You notice when it talks about bearing fruit, this is an echo of Genesis. Do you remember in Genesis? God said to the first couple be fruitful and then they walked out the exit door and all fruitfulness came to an end. And now through Christ, he brings people back into his family, back into his service with the ability to be fruitful.

So what a great thing to pray. That’s the first thing to know what God is doing, to know what we could be doing. Second thing briefly is to press on with his power and might not give up verse 11 to have great endurance and patience because God’s power is at work, enabling his people to do what he wants and not give up great power from God.

When I first became a Christian, I uh had a job as a Sunday school teacher. And I remember I was asked if I and my class would put a little drama on in the church and it was going to be the drama of David and Goliath. And so I asked the class if there were any volunteers and one boy put his hand up and said, he’d like to be Goliath, but he was absolutely tiny. He was tiny, tiny. I mean, anyway, we asked him to be David in David and Goliath and I ended up being Goliath wandering around like a crazy man. And uh we gave him a stocking to swing and we tied a knot at the end of the stocking. So the stocking would swing. And, um, anyway, he swung the stocking and hit me right in the fore.

It with incredible force. And I realized that he decided the stocking didn’t swing that well. So he’d gone and put a rock into the toe and I got it right in the forehead and had to carry on just in the drama. So this boy had found a way of getting secret power.

God himself. We read in this passage, Colossians 111 gives to his people secret power. But it’s not the power to knock your enemies over. It’s not the power to be a great success. Look at what it says in verse 11, it’s the power to stick.

It’s the power to keep going. It’s the power to endure. And there are two words, endurance and patience and they think that the word endurance has to do with difficult circumstances. In other words, to keep going when you have real setbacks and to keep going when you have major disappointments and to keep going, when you have real difficulties to put up with God will give you power to keep going.

And then the patience is mostly with people, people who failed you. People who wounded you. People who test you. Pastors have to put up with a lot of disappointments. People have to put up with a lot of disappointments. A member, one of Bill Clinton’s chaplains said to him once most famously, what’s it like to have the most difficult job in the world? And the president said to the chaplain, you’ve got the most difficult job in the world. You work with volunteers, disappointments. And Paul says, I’m praying that God’s power will keep you going forward.

One commentator says these and I think this is very helpful if you want to know how to please God that you are under the false impression that you have to be successful to please God or to be somebody, you’re not Dick Lucas says in his commentary, it’s through great endurance that the servant of God commends himself or herself learning to hold one’s position and quietly persist in the path of righteousness and truth when so much could make you give up or despair and to find the secret of steadiness, even when divine promises and hopes are deferred.

What a great comment Paul says, I’m praying that you will have endurance and patience by the power of God. This is a miraculous work of God that despite all the obstacles, the believer keeps going. It seems to me as I think about my own Christian life that I would go out like a candle in the wind. If it were not for the power of God, it’s the power of God that turns us into lights or lamps with fuel because He he enables that to happen. And when you look around at church members who are real believers who’ve been following Christ for decades.

They’re a miracle. It’s a miracle when you look at church leaders who’ve been serving for decades. It is the work of God. It’s a miracle.

Now, we know of course that uh a non-christian can have great endurance as well. I was reading that at the battle of Waterloo or after the battle of Waterloo, the Duke of Wellington said these famous words. our men were not braver than the enemy, but they were braver for five minutes longer.

Our men were not braver than the enemy. They were, they were braver for five minutes longer. That’s a great word of human endurance, but divine endurance means that you go on believing, you go on with your hope and you go on with your love and that is a miracle.

Now the third and the last thing this morning is Paul prays that the believers will not just be knowing God’s will and doing it, not just pressing on with his power, but also will be thankful for real. Christian benefits. Verses 12 and 13, God, you see doesn’t want me or you to know stuff and then to be knowledgeable full stop.

We all know there are lots of people who know a lot of stuff but they’re not very attractive people. Nor does he want us to keep going but be miserable, gritted teeth complaining all the time. No, you see verse 12 and 13, he wants people to go forward with joyful thanks. Now, how are we going to be filled with? Thanks. If the Christian life is all decision making and all disappointments, the answer is it isn’t. Verses 12 and 13. Paul lists about seven benefits of being a Christian and these benefits outweigh everything the world could give to us or throw at us.

And if you’re the sort of person who’s always looking on the bad thing that’s not happening, you should try and learn off by heart Colossians 112 and 13 to see all the good things that have happened. This is what he says. First of all, verse 12, you’ve got a heavenly father. If you belong to Christ, you’ve got a heavenly father, somebody who runs the universe who’s perfect in love and in power. He’s your father.

You’ve also verse 12, you’ve been transferred from darkness to light. The lights have come on. You’re not blind to the spiritual realities anymore. Thirdly, you’ve got an inheritance says Paul, something that he’s waiting around the corner. Solid, forever imperishable. Breathtaking.

Number four, verse 12 or 13, you have escaped from judgment. There is no condemnation hanging on you and there never will be because it fell on Christ at the cross. Number five, you’ve got a place in God’s kingdom. You’re no longer on the sand about to disappear. You’re on the rock and you will be forever. Number six, you belong to God’s son. You’ve got a friendship with the Son of God. Uh a spotless no barrier, friendship with the Son of God, which is forever.

And number seven, you’ve got forgiveness, not just a clean slate, but he’s going to help you every step of the way. So that when you fall over, he will help you up and when you fail, he will forgive you again.

These are the riches that Paul lists in just two verses in Colossians chapter one. And he models for us this joyful thanks because he is in prison. And yet he’s joyfully thankful, just like my friend Bronson who rings me every week, 36 years down the track in maximum security about to turn 50 this year went in at 14. Never complains.

Just focuses on the things that are good things he’s received from Christ opportunities that he has for Christ, tiny, tiny little cell, very difficult circumstances, but he’s fixed his mind on the things that are wonderful from Christ. So these are seven or eight privileges listed at the end of the prayer which are really worth the absorbing I don’t want you. However, as I come to the end to think that my sermon this morning is telling you go and do great things.

It’s a sermon that says, here’s something to pray that God would help you, that He would help you to know his will, that He would help you to keep going, that He would help you to be joyfully thankful. We have looked at this prayer before a couple of years ago in a series in Colossians. And my small brain forgets the prayers.

And so you may remember that I reduced this to what I called KFC.

No, to be faithful, to celebrate, to know the will of God in order to be faithful and to celebrate. And maybe as you go past the KFC business, you’ll look up and you’ll say to yourself that reminds me of a prayer in Colossians chapter one, that God will help me to know His will to be faithful and to celebrate all that he’s done for me and will do.

Let’s pray. Let’s bow heads. Father. Thank you for this prayer which you’ve given to us. Thank you that you’re the sort of God who is able and willing to help us know what you are doing and what we might do. Thank you that you’re the sort of God who is able to help us to be faithful when we would easily be unfaithful.

And thank you that you’re the sort of God who is calling us to celebrate the many blessings that have come to us through Christ. We pray that you would help us as we lift this prayer to you. In Jesus name. Amen.