For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. (Colossians 1:9, NIV)
I wouldn’t consider myself a gifted “intercessor”, but if I tell you I’ll pray for you, you can count on it. So when I ask folks “What can I pray with you about?” the answer I get most often is something like: “Pray that I can find God’s will in this or that…”
God’s mysterious will… Jesus taught us to pray for it to happen on “earth as it is in heaven.” But many of us feel like it is unknowable…or that it is a carrot on a stick…leading us forward but just out of reach. Interestingly, along with Paul’s prayers of thanksgiving for the church in Colossae, this was the main subject of his prayer for them. He says he continuously prayed about this.
As mysterious as God’s will may be, Paul tells us that knowing God’s will for us involves two essential aspects: spiritual wisdom and spiritual understanding (literally wisdom and understanding that comes from the Holy Spirit).
Wisdom (sofia) has a long Old Testament tradition associated with it. It isn’t the mental capacity to comprehend something, but the ability to put that knowledge into practice. The Hebrew equivalent means “skill”. In other words, it is application.
Understanding (sunesis) describes putting together facts and information and drawing correct conclusions and relationships. For example, you can take a survey and have statistics. You can put them in charts and graphs. But these aren’t very helpful until you interpret them and you discover what they mean.
So, let’s look at a test case as an example. Because of the teaching of the Bible, we know these facts: 1) God wants to forgive us our sins; 2) We also know that we can’t be forgiven when we refuse to forgive others. The Holy Spirit links these two truths together for us that we should live our lives forgiving others as Jesus has forgiven us. Then it happens. Someone fails us. Someone betrays us. Someone is mean. Wisdom is taking the Spirit’s understanding and putting into practice.
Easy? Nope. Necessary? Yep. And because it is difficult, it is worth praying about – continuously.