And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.
Man, this verse is LOADED! I mean, c'mon...how smart and good and challenging is Paul?! My mind is baffled at the Lord's revelation to Paul and my spirit groans, both in an ambitious "Yes, Lord! That's my heart; help me!" kind of way, but also in an "I'm so not there" way as well. First of all, Paul challenges us by telling us (imperatively), "live a life worthy of the Lord." I can go on for hours on how I'm not doing this, but the desire is there in my heart...that's ok, right? To answer myself, yes...the Lord looks at your heart and your motives. He knows our flesh is weak. Anyway, how do we live a life that is worthy of the Lord? Well, Paul answers that question in the fourth word of this verse, "this." What is "this"? You have to look at the previous verse: being filled with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. So, to live a life worthy of the Lord you must "know" Him! Paul thought it was important enough to include basically the same prayer in most if not all of his epistles (see also Ephesians 1:17, Philippians 3:8, 10). One can say that one of the main purposes (or the main purpose) of Christianity is to know God, to have a relationship with Him, to know Him as He really is. Paul understood this. His heart's cry was that he considered everything else on this earth in his life "rubbish compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus."
John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." Everybody knows that verse and can recite it in about 2.7 seconds. Now look at John 17:3. "This is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent." So eternal life is not just living forever, but it is knowing God! What is the chief end of man? To know God and enjoy Him forever!
Now on to pleasing the Lord. Every believers' heart is to do this. We all want to please God. Again, how? By having a quiet time everyday? By reading Scripture everyday? By sharing your faith? I could go on and on. Paul thankfully gives us the answer: bear fruit and grow in the knowledge of Him. I have already touched on the importance of "knowing" God. I will add that in this part of the verse he uses the verb "growing". I wish I paid more attention in English class when they went over all the different tenses and conjugations of words. What I take from this is that growing in the knowledge of God is a constant process; it's not supposed to become stagnant. We will never know everything about God in our lifetime. I know that was pretty dumb and obvious statement, but it's so true. There is always more!!
Jesus commands us to bear fruit. John 15:8, "This is to My Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples" and John 15:16, "You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit-fruit that will last...". If we do bear fruit, not only will we please God, but we also have this wonderful promise, "the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name." Healings...done, a family member to come to know Christ...done, miracles...done, etc etc!! However, if you do not go out and bear fruit the Lord will cut you off from the one true vine! Two words...not good. Bearing fruit is not always easy. The Lord also promises that He will prune those who bear fruit. Pruning is not always a non-painful process. He will shake things that can be shaken; He will remove relationships from your life; you may become a martyr, you may leave the comforts of your home and family and live in a 3rd world country... who knows, you fill in the blank for your own life. Maybe you've been pruned already? There is one instruction though to continuing to bear fruit: remain in Him. You will not bear fruit unless you remain in Him (John 15:4). How do you remain in Him? Two words that go hand in hand: Intimacy and prayer. We must protect the place of intimacy and prayer if we are to remain in God because this is where you get to know God. Whatever your quiet times look like (ie. at night or in the morning, 2 hours or 15 minutes, etc), guard that and give yourself to it. We (and I say we because I am speaking directly to myself) must make time for it above everything else! For real write it down on your planner! Mike Bickle says we must make the time in our prayer closet/secret place and schedule for it during your day. He goes on to say that most people follow through about 80% of the time. But hey, 80% is better than not scheduling it and not getting around to it. Amen?
So what happens when we bear fruit? Well, just take a step back and think about the fruit of a tree. One, the tree is recognized by its fruit. Others will know that we are disciples by our fruit (by serving, by loving others, by obeying your parents, etc). Two, we are nourished by the fruit. Others will be encouraged and "nourished" by the fruit we bear. As you remain in Him, continually growing in the knowledge of Him, pleasing Him and bearing fruit, other people you come in contact with will be affected and encouraged. When you see this happen, you will be inspired to be in the secret place even more, and the cycle will continue, opening the highway for more of His heavenly blessings!!
Grace and peace.