During the men’s retreat, Bob Allums invited all who were there to write down a prayer for our church. I thought about it for a while, and here’s what I wrote: I pray that God would bring our church into a season of unusual fruitfulness.
Churches inevitably will experience different kinds of growth in its life. Sometimes they will experience a winter, when the vitality is there, but hidden. The church is getting stronger within, albeit without any visible evidence. Other periods will be like an early spring—even though there might not be noticeable fruit, signs of life and energy are everywhere.
But sometimes God will bless a church with something even more exciting—a period when the powerful work of Jesus is tangibly evident. Sleepy Christians wake up, and unbelievers come to faith. People within the congregation find themselves becoming more deeply aware of the love of Christ and being freed to take meaningful steps of repentance. A deeper enthusiasm is felt during corporate worship, both as a real sorrow for sin and also an incredible joy in Christ and salvation. Love within the congregation overflows, both in sacrificial care for each other and real mercy towards the world. This is what I mean by a “season of unusual fruitfulness,” and this is what I am (perhaps audaciously) praying for our church.
This Sunday I’ll start my preaching series of Paul’s letter to the Colossians. As I’ve been studying it, it’s occurred to me that this letter is quite relevant to my prayer, because Colossians is really written to answer a simple question. How can Christians grow? How can we become the people we were created in Christ to be?
I’ve been struck by the simplicity of the answer: it’s all about the gospel. We will grow in faith and love and godliness in every aspect of life only as we become more deeply convinced of God’s grace toward us and the hope we have in Christ. This is the key to everything.
At the beginning of this letter, Paul prays that God might fill the Colossians with a knowledge of his will. And in this context, will doesn’t mean what God wants from the Colossians, but what God wants for the Colossians. It’s referring to his grace, his loving desire to save them.
Would you join with me in praying that prayer or our church? Would you pray with me, throughout the coming days, “Father, fill us with the knowledge of your will”? Our God is able to do immeasurably more than we ask, or even imagine.