“For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” Colossians 1:9–10

Who does not want to know God’s will? We all desire to know the future, if for no other reason than to simply plan, be successful, and please God. We want to know what God wants us to do with our lives: who we should marry, what occupation, what location, and what duration. But is this the knowledge for which Paul is praying? Is it merely factual in content and self-satisfying in purpose?

There is a very profitable, topical Bible study you ought to pursue. Have you ever investigated Paul’s prayer lists? His prayer lists were forged in the fires of ministry and conflict. He had a father’s love for each of his church plants and for the imperfect saints who peopled them. Paul had a great heart for discipleship, mentoring, and imparting wisdom. Our passage contains one of his prayer lists; this one is for the Colossian believers and concerns their knowledge of God’s will.

To “be filled with the knowledge of His will” certainly pertains to the big issues of life, especially since it is the day-to-day that leads to accomplishments of a lifetime. Major choices are always built out of small decisions. Therefore everything, both big and small, must be planted firmly in devotion to God and watered with prayer.

The verb translated “may be filled” is in the present tense and passive voice, meaning that Paul is not requesting a once-for-all filling with knowledge. He does not ask for God’s revealing of the big facts of your life. Being filled with once-for-all knowledge is not the real blessing that you need. His prayer contains a much bigger benefit, and something much more sufficient for you. Paul’s prayer amounts to a continual filling of knowledge.

Paul uses the word fill elsewhere in Colossians. He uses it in 1:19 speaking of Jesus Christ: “For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell.” The mind-boggling thought that the fullness of the Godhead was pleased to dwell (at home, permanently) in the body of Jesus Christ is revealed. This was an inconceivable idea in the pagan world, but true only in the Son of God!

The apostle continues this thought in Colossians 2:9f, “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the Head of all principality and power.” The incarnate Jesus Christ contains all the fullness of divinity, attributes and nature, through and through. Jesus’ divine nature pervades His entire being. The believer, then, is certainly complete in Him! Christ’s Person is the worthy substitute for all worldly views and He is the norm and test of truth!

Once we see where Paul’s train of thought leads, then it allows us to fully form the thought that Paul is introducing concerning the “fullness of knowledge of His will” in Colossians 1:9. We do not need a once-for-all filling with factual knowledge only of interest to us, we need continual filling with divinely revealed knowledge that pervades our thinking, affections, desires, and plans. Unlike Christ, we must learn and grow in our knowledge and be brought into conformity with His will!

Paul refers to the content of the filling as “knowledge.” This is the usual idea of knowing by experience, but with an added prefix, signifying complete knowledge. It is a thorough, accurate and deep kind of knowledge. There are many Christians who know about the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:1ff), but fewer have a general idea of the way Christ thinks (Romans 8:26–39), and fewer still are able to grasp what Paul prays for here: full knowledge that grows with spiritual maturity in Christ (Ephesians 3:4–21).

The idea of this practical knowledge and wisdom is amplified in Ephesians, the sister book to Colossians. Ephesians 1:17 reads, “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.” Then in Ephesians 4:13 Paul states, “Till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Paul’s prayer is not for knowledge that is useless to His purpose, whether theoretical, otherworldly, general, or divulging the highlight events of your life. It is much more practical, daily, and specific direction for your life as you obediently advance along your journey to glory!

Colossians 1:10 explains that your walk is to be brought into harmony with God’s will. “That you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” The harmony between God’s will and your walk grows with every worthy motive, thought, and action. Though others know about God, and some even know the ways of God, God would have us act in concert with His wishes and desires. Every good servant anticipates the desires of the master! Know God’s will, anticipate the desires of your Master in all wisdom and spiritual understanding! Trust and obey.