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. (The Message)
When I was younger, I played a lot of ping-pong. I got good at it. In fact, during a several months stretch back-in-the-day I had a record of 156-2. Not bad, Tim. That kind of record was only possible because of the two reasons that make any skill an accomplishment: knowledge and experience. I learned the game of ping-pong and eventually knew it inside and out; and, I had hundreds (if not thousands) of hours playing and developing my technique.
When it comes to prayer, there isn’t a need to invent a new game; we just need to learn the one we’ve got. Today’s New Testament reading is a prayer from the Apostle Paul to the Colossian Church. His prayer for them was singular: To have wise minds and spirits, that is, to have knowledge of God – an understanding of his ways and how he operates.
Paul prayed this for a reason: so that we might live our lives in a way which pleases God and enables us to sustain a lifetime of spiritual growth. As people created in God’s image and likeness, we are hard-wired with a spirit which needs strengthening and exercise. That happens as we put in the constant repetitions of connecting with the divine and putting in the time on our knees – praying daily for ourselves and others to mature in faith so that we might all together act wisely and justly in this world, for the life of the world.
A good place to start is to use Paul’s prayer as our own. Never has there been such a need than now for us to know how to apply wisdom in places and circumstances we’ve never been before. For wisdom to happen, we must grow in our knowledge and put in the hours of prayer. The skill of wisdom doesn’t magically happen; it is the culmination of acquired understanding and much practice putting knowledge into loving use.
Direct me, O Lord, in all my doings with your most gracious will and wisdom. Further in me your continual help – that in all my work and in all I do and say, I may glorify your holy name; and, by your mercy, obtain the life that is truly life; through Jesus Christ, my Lord. Amen.