Grandfather: “Little Frank, are you still praying for a baby brother?”
Little Frank: “Yeah.”
Grandfather: “Well, how’s it going?”
Little Frank: “Not too good. I think Mom’s praying against me.”
Like little Frank, prayer can be an uphill battle. But most of the time, we aren’t praying against our mum but against Satan (Eph 6:12). How should you pray for the people in your life? Paul, in his letters to the Colossians, highlights a prayer warrior named Epaphras. Wait…Epap-who? Epaphras is easily glossed over but his prayers aren’t. Check it out:
Epaphras, a member of your own fellowship and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends you his greetings. He always prays earnestly for you, asking God to make you strong and perfect, fully confident that you are following the whole will of God.
What an amazing testimony by Paul! Epaphras is apparently from the Colossian church and prays for them as he travels with Paul. What can we learn as we pray for our family, our neighborhood or church?
1. Consistent in Prayer
Epaphras prayed “always” for them. He was consistent in bringing them before God. How often do you pray for others in your life? Maybe, a better question is: How often do you pray? Set aside time each day to bring people on your heart to God. It’s difficult to remember so it will be best to create lists of names sorted by circles of influence (Family, Friends, Church, Missionaries). Next, assign each group to a day of the week so that you will cover them in prayer regularly. That’s consistency. Keeping a prayer journal might be helpful too.
2. Contend in Prayer
Next, Epaphras contended in prayer for them. The word Paul used was “earnestly” which in the Greek means “struggling or wrestling as if in an intense athletic contest or warfare.” That’s where the word agonise comes from. Epaphras’ prayer isn’t the gentle meal prayer but implies great exertion. Why? Every time we pray, there are spiritual battles taking place in the heavenly realms. Daniel faced that. Jesus faced that. Epaphras faced that. The devil wants to steal, kill and destroy Christians, preventing them from growing in the Lord. Thus, prayer unleashes battles in the spiritual kingdom for God’s will to be done. Will you agonise, struggle and wrestle in prayer for the people in your life? Often in intense prayer, we pray till we sense a breakthrough and we know our prayer is answered.
3. Constructive in Prayer
Lastly, Epaphras prayed constructively for the Colossian church. The first two qualities describes the way he prayed. Now is the content of his prayer. He prayed that God will make them mature and have the assurance they are in the will of God. That’s a wonderful prayer! Ask God to strengthen faith in your church members. Ask God to reveal his will to them. Ask God to open the hearts of family members who haven’t accepted Jesus yet. Ask God to give assurance to those who are seeking direction in life. Your prayers are crucial to building up the church of God.