“...always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.” Colossians 4:12
As I pray for myself and for others each day, I desire with all of my heart that my prayers to God will be within His will and not my own, so that His purposes and my prayers will not be separate from one another. I think for that reason, the verse above from Colossians caught my eye this morning as I was reading and I realized that when I pray the end product in what I am really asking God to do in all that I bring before His throne is that He perfects and completes each person and each situation I have had laid at His feet.
Yet, in a fallen world filled with sinful people, how is it that God can bring about perfection and completion? On our own we can only try our hardest to do what is right, to follow all the rules, and to flounder through the many mistakes we make hoping each mistake will teach us a lesson to make us wiser the next time around. But, God has another way for those who come to Him and who realize that seeking a perfected life will always come up empty apart from Him. Listen to what 1 Corinthians 1:30 has to say about where all righteousness, sanctification (that is the process of making us holy), and redemption come from:
“...you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption...” 1 Corinthians 1:30
It is only through Jesus that we people with our sin nature can be perfected and complete. It is not in copying Jesus, it is “in” Christ Jesus that this happens and truly what we should be praying to happen within us and within those we pray for each day. Below is a quote from Oswald Chambers on how he relates sanctification to the perfected holiness of God within us:
“Sanctification is not drawing from Jesus the power to be holy; it is drawing from Jesus the holiness that was manifested in Him, and He manifests in me. Sanctification is an impartation, not an imitation.” Oswald Chambers
If we desire to be more merciful we do not pray that God shows us ways to be more merciful. No instead we ask Him to be mercy within us so that we can then share His mercy with others. Likewise if we want to our son to be wise in his actions we do not pray that he finds ways to overcome foolishness with wise choices but rather we pray that Jesus becomes wisdom in him so all of his choices are guided by Jesus and are wise beyond human understanding.
In every way that Jesus works in us as we pray and then allow Him to be, will, and do as He pleases within our lives we discover more fully who He is and who He can be in us and through us. The focus comes off of us and goes to Him. We learn that sanctification is not about us getting better in His sight but rather it is about us becoming less and Him becoming more.
I love what Psalm 18 has to say about how God works to show Himself to us as we allow Him to work in us:
“With the merciful You will show Yourself merciful; with a blameless man You will show Yourself blameless; with the pure You will show Yourself pure...” Psalm 18:25-26
Today, as you are praying for yourself or others, I would encourage you to pray that Jesus fills every person and situation with Himself and remove anything that is not of Him. Look to Him to supply, to work, and to heal each situation from the inside out. Do not become distracted with the sin you see when you pray, but rather purpose your heart to see all that Jesus can be and wants to be through your prayers and petitions in bringing about perfection and completion to what He is working out in this fallen world.