Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God. Colossians 4:12, ESV.
Sometimes we forget that Paul’s New Testament books were written as letters. They are so packed with theology and instruction for Christian living that we forget that they are letters written by a missionary apostle to churches that he cared about. A man named Epaphras planted a church in Colossae. He later came to see Paul, who was in prison in Rome, and told him about that church, possibly seeking Paul’s advice in dealing with controversy in the church (Col 1:7). So, Paul wrote them a letter.
At the end of this letter, Paul sends greetings from Epaphras back to the church. As he does, Paul tells us something about this church planter. Epaphras, while apart from the church in Colossae, has been fighting for them in prayer—praying that they will stand mature in their faith, have full assurance of their salvation, and know the will of God.
We would benefit greatly from imitating Epaphras’s prayer intensity. He was isolated from the church he loved. There were no phones (smart or otherwise). There was no Skype or Zoom. He could not blog for them or podcast on Facebook. But he could pray for them. He prayed so hard that Paul observed it as a struggle. Do we engage in prayer as a struggle for our brothers and sisters in Christ before God’s throne?
We would also benefit greatly from imitating Epaphras’s prayer emphasis. This man begged God to help his brothers and sisters in Christ be mature, assured, and wise in their walk with the Lord. We are sometimes good at praying for physical needs, sometimes even fervent in praying for the healing of sick saints. But how good are we at praying for their souls? for their growth in Christian maturity? for their assurance? for their wisdom?
We currently grieve the fact that we cannot gather together. This is justified grief. This time of absence is hard. Even so, our response needs to move beyond grief. If we genuinely love the saints, we will put on our best Epaphras. We will go to battle for their souls before the throne of God.
Who needs you to go to battle for them in prayer today? Do it now. Follow Epaphras’s lead.
I am praying for you.