The past week I have been focusing on Colossians. After reading through a couple times, one person grabbed my attention. Paul, the author of this and many other books in the Bible, is definitely an important figure, but he mentions a man named Epaphras twice (and in Philemon as his fellow prisoner). In 1:7 Paul says that from him, the Colossians learned of God’s grace and truth. And in 4:12-13, Paul writes to the Colossians that Epaphras,”…a servant in Christ, sends his greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. I vouch for him that he is working hard for you…”
I see Epaphras as an example to follow for many reasons. One, he shared the gospel. He taught the Colossians about having faith in Christ Jesus, and their faith in the gospel produced fruit. Epaphras sowed seeds of truth. But he didn’t just plant the seeds and abandon them. Paul testified to the hard work that Epaphras had put into nurturing those seeds in prayer. Epaphras had been praying that those new believers would mature and please God in bearing fruit.
It is a beautiful and joyous experience to pray with someone in accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior. There is rejoicing in heaven when just one sinner repents (Luke 15:7)! But, as Paul described, the hard work came in the process of maturing and following God’s will. Epaphras showed a persevering and sacrificial love in how he prayed for those believers. He wrestled in prayer. The Message version says, ” What a trooper he has been! He’s been tireless in his prayers for you.” The King James Version says he has been laboring fervently and has great zeal. Any way it is translated, he was a faithful, passionate servant of the Lord.
I am blessed to have fervent lovers of Christ who pray for me as well. I call my aunts my personal prayer warriors because of the automatic phone/email tree that starts when I share a request/concern with my mom. I know that they will be battling in prayer for me. And that gives me hope and strength. I am grateful for them and I pray that others would see me as one who is committed to them in prayer. But it is humbling to question my own daily practice of this. Do I wrestle in prayer? Who do I wrestle in prayer for regularly? Do I share the gospel regularly? Do I see the fruit of the gospel in my life and in those I support in prayer? I love Christ by loving his children. If I truly love someone like Christ, I am called to wrestle for them.
Who do I feel called to battle for? This week I wrote out over 100 names of family, friends and acquaintances from church, work, sports, school, etc. and prayed specific prayers for each one. I don’t necessarily have time to do that all the time, but it really put the work of prayer into perspective. I am connected to and have the ability to love so many people, if I would just be more deliberate about intercession.
Father thank you for the hope that is stored up for us in heaven. We pray that faith and love would spring up from that hope. We pray for boldness and passion in sharing your truth. We pray that our lives would be pleasing to you, bearing much fruit in the gospel. May we persevere in loving and serving each other as faithful servants. We want to battle for our fellow brothers and sisters in prayer- in fervent, zealous prayer. May your Holy Spirit work through us as we intercede for others. Give us a wrestling spirit; may we be feisty prayer warriors.