“He is always wrestling in payer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.”
Colossians 4:12b (NIV)
I am sitting at my dining room table on a Sunday evening…attempting to wrap my mind around the phrase “wrestling in prayer”. From a small yet very significant mention of Epaphras, we learn of his faithful servanthood to Christ Jesus. We also read of his current condition at the time of the description “wrestling in prayer”…in prison. Go with me back to the first century and try to imagine…
How rare it must have been to be able to put into a script your own thoughts and blessings and greetings to a people of distant residence in the first century…especially in prison. Paul began his letter, “This letter is written by Paul who was chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus…” I imagine the quickening of Epaphras’ heart as he heard the words, “This letter is written to God’s holy people in the city of Colosse…” Colosse! Oh, to feel home again. For a moment, the prison walls tear down and Epaphras is back home. Where would he go first? Perhaps the church or maybe his childhood buddy’s home. Just the thought of the memories must have grown a smile across his face. Or maybe the rush of hot tears instantly stung his eyes and he found himself quickly turning away to hide the emotion. Regardless, the feeling of home enveloped every part of his being until, instantly, he was back in the world of reality inside the prison walls, hearing his name.
“Epaphras. Epaphras! Do you want to add anything to the letter?” Paul tenderly asks as he notices Epaphras returning.
He responds almost in a scattered brain state, “Uh…sure. Give them my greetings and make sure they know I am praying for them.”
With that warm smile of Paul, whose heart has softened these past few years, he tweaks Epaphras’ request a bit for he knows the deep and sincere truth. He doesn’t just pray for them; he wrestles in prayer for them. His prayers go so deep that, at times, he seems distracted and distant. But Paul knows him well enough by now to know he is praying earnestly, tirelessly laboring with deep concern for his brothers and sisters back home. And Paul knows the depth of each act of interceding for it goes much deeper than the physical requests. His prayers circle around their spiritual well being. And so Paul continues…
“Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in payer 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…”
What a beautiful example of how we are to pray for our brothers and sisters. We must labor in our prayers in all sincerity and deeply prayer for the heart. So, I am bringing this meeting with my computer at the dining room table to an end. But before I close, I must ask, how can I pray for you?