Every church would do well to have one, but far too often they labor in secret and are seldom recognized, but how beneficial it is for a church to have a man who labors in prayer on behalf of the church. That was the case for the church in Colossae—and as Paul closed out his letter to them, he named Epaphras and pointed out how he was a faithful servant in prayer.
Consider the purpose of Epaphras’ prayers. He wasn’t praying superficial prayers, but rather the kind of prayers that truly need to be prayed in the life of a local church. According to Paul, Epaphras struggled in his prayers. The word he used “ἀγωνίζομαι” which we translate “struggle” can mean “to fight” or “to engage in a contest.” The idea is to engage with a passionate zeal. This is not a light and easy prayer!
Prayers for Spiritual Maturity
Far too often many churches are praying for growth, but it’s numerical rather than spiritual growth that seems to be the focus. While we should pray for numerical growth, the foundation that such growth stands upon is spiritual growth. Epaphras spent time praying for the church in Colossae to become strong and complete—fully developed in their spiritual growth.
When was the last time you could see noticeable growth in your spiritual life? Sure, we set goals for physical health and we work to maintain or to stretch ourselves to hit our mark with weight loss, muscle gain, or whatever the category may be, but when was the last time you noticed spiritual growth? Have you set goals for your own personal prayer life? What about your knowledge of God through the Bible? When was the last time you spent time memorizing verses of Scripture in your personal study of the Bible? Bible memory is not just for children—right?
We need hearts that are zealous about reaching unbelievers and seeing our church grow numerically, but we must labor to see our church grow spiritually. It’s precisely this spiritual maturity that develops love for one another and when immaturity is defeated we learn to forgive one another, serve alongside one another, and overcome hidden sins that have been hindering us for many years.
Will you pray for your church in this way? Will you labor to see your church (including yourself in that category) pursue God with such passion that it results in a great deal of spiritual maturity?
Prayers for Satisfaction in God’s Will
One of the greatest truths we can learn is that we must find our true satisfaction in God. This present evil world will fail us and will never truly satisfy us. We must find our true joy and delight in God, and not just in the knowledge of God’s perfection and holiness, but in a complete satisfaction of God’s will.
Jesus taught us to pray in the model prayer, “let your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We must pray for God’s will to be done, and we must find our satisfaction in God through Jesus Christ. Epaphras struggled in prayer for the church in Colossae to be fully assured in all the will of God. This involves contentment in the secret will of God and delight in the revealed will of God. This will include a peace in the midst of storms and strength during the waves of persecution. No matter what God’s will may be—we must learn to be fully satisfied in our God.
Do you pray for your church in this way? Do you have an Epaphras in your church? Imagine how your church could benefit from a man who struggled in prayer for his church. Far too many people today spend time complaining about their church rather than praying for their church. Imagine the difference that such a struggling prayer can do in the life of a church family.
Colossians 4:12 — 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.