That time between Christmas and the New Year gives us a moment of reflection. We think about what has happened over 2017 yet also look forward to what 2018 has in store. So much of how our lives have changed in the past year greatly affect how we move forward in the year ahead. The Christian life is lived in the same way. To move forward in the Christian faith, we often need to spend more time looking back at what God has already accomplished for our sake in the past. With that in mind, I offer three areas of prayer we should all desire for 2018.
Pray for the Knowledge of God
Our culture has shifted where we only care about how much we store in our heads. There has been less focus on how what we know should change how we live. We often approach spiritual living in the same way. We wonder if there's more to the good news of the gospel, as if there's some greater spiritual plane we need to ascend to, some secret knowledge we still need to attain in order to have real breakthrough with Jesus. Yet when Paul prays in v.9 that believers would be "filled with the knowledge of his will," he's not asking God to give the Colossians more enlightenment than what they already know. He's praying they would root themselves deeper in what God has already revealed to them in His Word, the gospel of Jesus Christ. To know God better, know Christ more. To go deeper in faith, know the gospel well.
Pray for the Power of God
The hope of the gospel is that we would be transformed and changed to be more like Christ. This isn't easy but God has empowered us so this change might be possible. Paul prays in v.11 that believers would "be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might." This is the same language used in Isaiah 11:2, where it is the Holy Spirit that empowers God's people. The reality is that the person who finds the Christian life boring or passionless simply does not understand the power at work in them by the Spirit. We need to cede control, surrender to Christ, submit to His rule and let God's power work in us by His Word, His people, and prayer.
Pray in Thanksgiving to God
Paul gives us ample reason to be thankful to God. He specifies three things in v.12-13: we are qualified for a spiritual inheritance, transferred from darkness to light, and redeemed and forgiven of our sins. It's hard to be thankful when we don't know what we're being thankful for. The truth is a lack of thankfulness to God in our faith often is connected with living out of a perceived spiritual poverty instead of apprehending the riches of our spiritual treasure in Christ. When we live as if God still owes us something or that the gospel is missing something, we will not praise but complain. True thankfulness rises only when we've taken hold of all that Jesus has won for us at the cross and in His resurrection.
1. As you look back at 2017, what did you learn or experience that you plan on carrying with you into 2018?
2. How do you want to know God better this year?What do you think it looks like to go deeper into the gospel this year?
3. Have there been seasons in your faith where you've felt apathetic, passionless, or bored? Why do you think that is?
4. What does it look like to be empowered by the Spirit? How would that change the way you currently live and think? What are the ways in which the Spirit is already at work in your life?
5. Are there ways in which you feel a spiritual poverty in your faith, as if God hasn't provided enough in the gospel? Why?
6. How does reflecting, meditating, and trusting in the promises of what Christ has won for us at the cross make us more thankful to God? How might you grow in thankfulness to God in this year?