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What to Pray for, 3: To Walk Worthy of the Lord (Col. 1:10-12)

The Inspiration for Our Prayer to Walk Worthy

Jesus Christ is the Son of God, our Redeemer

This second petition in Paul’s prayer plucks every chord in our heart. To walk worthy of the Lord and fully pleasing him captures our highest aspiration and our deepest love. And, it is a prayer, for we have not yet attained to this high calling. There is much sin remaining in us, and this prayer focuses our heart upon our Lord Jesus, who will mortify that sin. We can become worldly minded and weighed down by many cares. True Christians can forget their first love, the reason they are Christians in the first place! This prayer should be internalized and become so much our heart that we begin to hunger for this high calling of pleasing our Lord. There are many reasons or inspirations for this. First, he is the Son of God. This consideration alone makes him worthy to be pleased. He is the eternal God, the Maker of all things. Then, when we think that he became flesh in order to redeem us, this places our regard for him on a much higher plane. When we see him walking on this earth, being tempted as we are, becoming the man of sorrows to sympathize with us, and then becoming sin for us, we must pray to walk worthy of him. When we could not redeem ourselves from sin’s chains and Satan’s devices, he did it. We can never bear the guilt and punishment for our sins, or atone in any way for even our smallest transgressions. He shed his blood for our vileness. He was mocked, blasphemed and desecrated because we defiled ourselves. Should we not pray to walk worthy of him?

He is Exalted, Worthy, Lovely, Our Soul’s Desire

And when to this we see him now raised from the dead, exalted to the Father’s right hand, still in human nature clothed, with our names engraved upon his hands, should we not pray to walk worthy of him? Pleasing him should be on our minds constantly, our purpose for each day, the desire of our souls. To walk worthy of him is love praying in the believer’s heart. He is our highest good, and though we still stumble on the battlefield and are besieged by many temptations, we know that our Redeemer lives! We see him now exalted for us, showing us what our destiny will be in him. Our destiny? Slaves of sin and rebels against God raised and reigning with Christ forever? Being with him forever? Lord, help me to walk worthy of you unto all pleasing. You are lovely beyond comparison, fairest of ten thousand, the desire of the ages, our desire collectively, my desire individually. We are to pray for this, including the desire to walk worthy of him. Who among us does not blush to think how unworthily we have walked at times, how little we have loved him, or the ways we have confused our earthly ambitions and fears and agendas with his kingdom. Just because we want something does not mean it pleases him, but we often in our pride and selfishness equate pleasing ourselves with pleasing our Master. This prayer calls us away from such base betrayal of love. It calls us to seek from our Beloved a heart that wants to please him in all things, even when pleasing him means our idols must be smashed. We pray for him to be exalted, to be pleased, to be the One for whom we live and work and hope.

What Does It Mean to Walk in a Worthy Way?

To Adorn the Gospel by Our Lives (Eph. 4:1)

To walk in a worthy way has nothing to do with earning merit or favor with God, paying him back for our salvation, or paying for our past or present sins. Walking worthy is not the way we keep ourselves in a saved state or measure up to the expectations of others. Jesus Christ paid the ransom price, and we can add nothing to the merit of his obedience unto death and to his soul being made an offering for sin in our place. In him alone we are delivered from the curse, penalty, power, and one day the very presence of sin. He is the “Author and Finisher” of our faith, and he shares neither office with us. Worthy walking has instead to do with our response to his grace. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptably unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Rom. 12:1). “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that you walk worthy of the calling wherewith you were called” (Eph. 4:1). Our reasonable, believing response to God’s grace in his Son is to devote ourselves to him in obedient love and thanksgiving. This means, positively, that we take up our cross, deny ourselves, and follow our Master – not men and movements, but Jesus Christ alone. A godly life is the fruit of a true union with our Lord. It expresses a thankful, worshipping heart for all of his mercies to us. Godliness is the gospel of grace lived out. Our good works glorify our Father in heaven and shine his gracious light into the world so that he is praised (Matt. 5:16).

To Turn from All That Is Unworthy of Christ

Negatively, worthy walking that pleases our Lord in all things awakens us to the need to turn from all that is unworthy of our Lord, beneath his majesty, or a betrayal of his great salvation. It was unworthy of him for the disciples to argue about who would be greatest. It was unworthy of him for them to call down lightning from heaven, for he did not come into the world to destroy but to save men. It is unworthy of him for us to refuse to wash one another’s feet, serve one another, or spend our time complaining and jockeying for relational position rather than seeking nothing for ourselves and standing ready to serve. It is unworthy of him for husbands to claim to be heads in their homes and not have their hands in the vomit, to sit back and pontificate about the world’s problems while failing to engage the heart of his children with the gospel of Jesus Christ and live out his loving service in the home. It is unworthy of Christ for wives to complain constantly, sulk, and refuse to smile or love their husbands unless all their grievances are first resolved. It is unworthy of the Lord not to stand for his truth when it is under attack, to live for oneself, to rebel against authority in home and church. It is unworthy of our Lord and a receiving of God’s grace in vain (2 Cor. 6:1) when we think first of ourselves, our own feelings and comfort, what others think about us, have done to us, and how the whole world should revolve around our preferences.

To Offer Him Our Heart, Our Life, Our All

To walk worthy of our Lord is aimed at pleasing the Lord Jesus Christ in all we do. It is exemplified in David’s ardent confession: “I will not offer unto the Lord that which costs me nothing.” We walk worthy of him as we grow in understanding of his person and work. Increased understanding will begin healing our fallen affections and set our wills in the path of obedience. Only then can we walk worthy of offering our lives to the Lord. This is what the apostle means by “presenting our bodies a living sacrifice.” He does not say “soul,” for this would ignore our bodies, a grave heresy and denial of the resurrection. It slights him if we reserve our outward, earthly life for ourselves. To present our bodies is to present all that we are, high and low, body and soul, to serve him. This is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind – to love him with all that we are and to make pleasing him our life’s mission. Is it ours? Worthy walking is a prayer that reflects our passion – to love the One who has so loved us, to intentionally give ourselves to serving him, promoting him, blessing him, speaking of him, to grow in devotion, affection, and faithfulness to him. Worthy walking is the way to heaven not because it merits heaven but because it leads us there, to Jesus Christ, to fellowship with him.

Our Prayer to Please in the Lord in All Things

Relationship: Jesus Christ Loves Us, and We Love Him

This prayer and all right praying assumes a relationship. The Lord loves us. He has bound himself to us. Before we were born or the universe existed, the Father chose us in love to be his children, and our adoption was in Christ, who “loved and gave himself for us.” When we pray to walk worthy of the Lord, we are expressing on our side a returning love for him. Real friends do not make perfunctory promises or indifferent commitments. The Lord said to Abraham: “Walk before me. I will be your God.” David prayed, “I will love you, O Lord, my strength.” Solomon adored: “I am my Beloved’s, and my Beloved is mine.” One reason we pray so little or so coldly is that love’s embers burn low in our hearts. We will make serious sacrifices and schedule to do something we want but barely have three minutes to seek the Lord. Our loves are misplaced. Some say, “But I feel nothing when I pray.” Or, “I am terrible at relationships, so how can I have a relationship with the Lord, whom I cannot see, toward whom I feel little?” Our relationship with him is not based upon passing feelings but faith that works love. Love is commitment to believe and to trust, to serve, to be near, to fellowship, and to obey. Right affections will in time follow a clear understanding of this point. The Lord Jesus did not go to the cross because he had the warm fuzzies about us. He went there because he was committed to his Father and to us, loved his Father and loved us, and was determined in fulfillment of the Scriptures to secure us forever by redeeming us from all sin. Love him for this. Think on him for this. Labor to get a clearer understanding of his glory, his saving work, his intercession for us, and especially what he is preparing for us in heaven. Labor to get a broken heart over your sins and a heart that believes Jesus Christ alone can heal you. “Consider Christ” and “set your thoughts on him” (Col. 3:1; Heb. 3:1). Love and consecration will follow.

Commitment: To Make Pleasing Him What Pleases Us

When we know the Lord, we are concerned with pleasing him. Instead of asking first how we feel about things or how we think the world should be, we must instead inquire of our souls: “are my ways pleasing to the Lord?” It is said of Enoch, for example, “that he pleased God” (Heb. 11:5). What did this mean in those days before the written Scripture? He did what God had said and believed the promise of a Savior that had been passed down through the believing line of Seth. He did all he could to think whether or not a course of action pleased the Lord. This is the same way we must walk and pray if we are to please the Lord. Does my present attitude about my husband please the Lord? If not, I must take immediate steps to turn from displeasing the Lord and begin pleasing him by obedience. Does my present attitude about my life circumstances please the Lord? If I am discontented, dislike my home, my furnishings, my car, my food, do my thoughts please the Lord? Do my nighttime dreams please him? My words to my neighbors? The thoughts I have about other believers? My responses to the authorities in my life? The things I share with others about those with whom I have a disagreement? To please the Lord requires a commitment to intentional living. You are out in public, where there is typically a great deal of immodesty and profaneness. How would the Lord have me use my eyes? Where should I look? Lord, I want to please you when I am with my friends.  By this prayer, we commit to the One we love and resolve to please him. After praying, we rise up and begin making adjustments – attitudes, thoughts, words, actions, habits. Do my ways please the Lord? Like Enoch, am I closer in mind and affections to my Father’s house and my Savior’s kingdom, so that I would be thankful should he call me home today? Or, are my loves a muddled mess and cemented to worldly affections and appetites? If your loves are scattered all over the place, so will be your life. Ask the Lord Jesus to restore unto you the joy of his salvation and to seek you in the wilderness. He will. He keeps up his love even when our love falters. He is faithful, good, and kind. Ask him to give you the desire to please him.

Praying this a few times will not make everything perfect. There is a war within the holiest believer, so that we “do not the things that we would” (Gal. 5:17; Rom. 7:15-16,19). This is the reason we continue praying. Are you struggling in your marriage? Love persists. It believes, bears, and endures all things. It must to succeed. It is the same with our Lord. He never loves us less because our love is cold and inconsistent. In fact, this prayer assumes that our love is not what it needs to be, that pleasing him is not our passionate priority, but that somewhere in our soul, the desire to please him is there. The seed of faith he has implanted in you is fighting for a little light and water. This prayer brings down the rain. Jesus Christ loves each of his sheep. Come to him, as he invites you, and tell him everything. Confess to him your worldly loves, impure loves, inferior motives, that you are wedded to pleasing yourself and feel nothing very strong about pleasing him. Confess that you have been unfaithful and ask him for help. It is the chief part of the Christian faith that we have surrendered the delusion of our own ability to please God and that we surrender to Jesus Christ to work all good in us. It is also the chief part that we come to Jesus Christ as the Healer. He loves very much to perform this saving office in us – that we do not think or even try to save ourselves, but look to him to save us, draw near to him, hold fast to the hem of his garment, and refuse to let him go. Then, committed to his Lordship and trusting him, he will help us walk in a worthy way.

In Everything: Fully Pleasing Involves All Things

“Fully pleasing” or “all pleasing” is not a dramatic flourish but a needed guide to our pleasing. It is not in what some call “religion” or religious activities that we seek to please the Lord, but in everything – what we see and hear, the way we talk, the friends we choose, the job we accept, the attitudes and dress that we adopt. “All things” means simply that – Jesus Christ is my Lord. He has purchased me, and I have vowed to please him. This is especially important when we are young. You are never too young to commit yourself to Jesus Christ. Perhaps you are not old enough yet to come to the Lord’s Table, but where does it ever say you can live as you please until then? Commit to him now, at three, four, five. Parents, encourage that commitment by not placing impossible emotional burdens upon your children or building up such high moral walls and demands that even faith cannot scale them. Encourage them that Jesus Christ loves them. Learn while you are young to write “Holiness to the Lord” upon every paper you write, assignment you complete, ballgame you play, chore you finish. I dare say every adult here should recommit to do the same, and the commitment will utterly change your life.

There is nothing like this commitment to walk worthy of the Lord to help us walk in difficult and dark times. The commitment changed Daniel’s life and guided him. In the Persian court with every pleasure, he refused to eat the king’s meat. He was determined to please the Lord. Or, many years later, when Darius passed his decree that no one should pray except to him, Daniel continued praying. He did not fear the king’s edict but went about his daily duty of praise. His ways pleased the Lord, and this singular commitment was the polestar of his life for a century, during the exile, serving in pagan palaces. Joseph did the same when he rose in Potiphar’s household and was then seduced by his wife – I will please the Lord. For seventeen years, he pleased the Lord in the dungeon. And Moses in Egypt, with the treasures of Egypt before him, considered it a higher honor and joy to suffer reproach for Christ. Pleasing Jesus Christ in all things is the clear path forward in dark times. No one in the world can make you sin. I think we have forgotten this. This is not some spiritual secret but a very earthy principle of duty, hope, light, and strength. We are here to please the Lord, and we will please him. No one can throw you off course if your sincere prayer is, “Lord, help me to walk worthy of you unto all pleasing.” The youngest believer seeking Jesus Christ has the Holy Spirit, and he is more powerful than a million demons from hell attacking all at once. Do you want to be safe in these times? Walk worthy of the Lord, and make pleasing him your pleasure.

Perhaps it seems a hard commitment to make. Or, perhaps you suspect it will require some significant changes in your life to pray like this and resolve to walk worthy of the Lord. Do not allow your fears to keep you from the Lord Jesus. He says, “It is I; do not be afraid.” Worthy walking does not throw you back upon your own strength but into the arms of Jesus Christ. He is our Savior and our Shepherd, our Lord and our Strength. As Augustine once wrote, “Lord, give what you command, and then command what you will.” This is the way we approach feared changes in our lives. Lord, we want to walk worthy of you, but these attitudes of mine are long-entrenched. I am always angry, it seems to me, or frustrated, or suspicious of others, or antagonistic toward authority or unloving to my wife or hateful to my husband. Can I change? We sense, of course, if we have any faith, that the Lord is not pleased with these things, but is he worthy of our turning to him and praying for grace to please him? I am not asking you to make changes for yourself, to feel better or heal your relationships. This is to put the cart before the horse. I am encouraging you to look at Jesus Christ and change for him, because he is worthy. The reason we look to him is that we cannot change ourselves. He is the physician. We are all his patients. Come to him and pray. Lord, help me to walk worthy of you unto all pleasing. Work this good in me. Make my ways pleasing to you. Strengthen me by your Spirit so that instead of living for myself I begin living for you, loving you, and walking with you.

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