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Wrestling In Prayer

Colossians 4:12-13
Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends 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 and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis. (NIVUK)

Epaphras was an evangelist who established the church in Colossae, and later visited Paul in prison in Rome (Colossians 1:7-8).  We do not know how, but having visited Paul, Epaphras also became a prisoner (Philemon 1:23).  Through Paul, he sent personal greetings to his Christian brothers and sisters back home.  

But Paul also took the opportunity to commend Epaphras for his prayer life - both as an encouragement and an example (1 Timothy 2:8).  What a wonderful friend Epaphras was to the Colossian church.  He took prayer very seriously.  Indeed, Paul had observed how Epaphras devoted himself to prayer, wrestling over the spiritual issues that beset the church as he longed for their spiritual stability and growth.  Epaphras knew, that having planted the seed of the gospel, the Holy Spirit would continue to use the teaching to bring the believers to full maturity.

Every church planter has a special bond with the church.  Having sowed the seed of the gospel and seen the first fruits of the ministry, Epaphras now wanted the believers to be fully assured of the truth they were taught and be able to face the temptations and tests which are inevitable in the Christian life.  Satan would use whatever means he could to distract the believers from whole-hearted commitment.  It was a spiritual battle, requiring all of Epaphras’ focus and faith.  It was hard work praying for them, and for believers in Laodicea and Hierapolis, other nearby churches in the Lycos valley.  Perhaps Paul had in mind the time when Jacob wrestled with God, saying, “I will not let You go unless you bless me” (Genesis 32:22-30).  Such prayer reflects the agony of soul which can only be satisfied by the powerful intervention of God.
Prayer is a real labour and struggle.  It is the essence of spiritual warfare. William Cowper, the 18th Century hymn writer wrote, ‘And Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees.’  When we pray, we intentionally lift up the staff (Exodus 17:9) or banner (Psalm 60:4) of the Sovereign God, and declare that He is the all-powerful conqueror.  The forces of evil cannot resist Him.  But it is often very hard work.  We may be distracted, tired, feeling full of our own unworthiness.  Sometimes we are tempted to believe the lie that God will not respond in power or on time.  The battle to pray, and in praying, is real, but essential if we are to live for Jesus and to engage in any sort of ministry in His Name.  So be decisive, set aside time; ask to be filled again with the Holy Spirit's energy for the work of prayer and be willing to labour for the sake of the spiritual well-being of others.  We do not know the mechanics of prayer (that is not our business), but we do know that God hears and answers.  So go to it ... and pray with all the energy that Jesus gives (Colossians 1:29).

Almighty God. Thank You that You do hear and will answer every prayer that comes from faith. Forgive me for so many failures in prayer, where I have been deflected or weakly given up when it is hard to pray. Please help me to realise how well You honour our prayers and what amazing things You can do when we put our confidence in You, and present our requests. Help me to be more disciplined, more bold and more persevering in prayer. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams