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. For I bear him witness that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and in Hierapolis. (Colossians 4:12-13)
What a significant figure for the Colossians was Epaphras. At the beginning of the Epistle to the Colossians we learn that it was he who preached the gospel to that ancient city. The Apostle refers to him as a “faithful minister”, and it is clear that Epaphras had told Paul all about the church in Colossae.
From the passage above we can see that his work for the church in Colossae continues. He may not be with them physically, but he is often to be found before the throne of God “struggling on your behalf in his prayers”.
This is a telling little phrase. When we think of prayer, I wonder how often the word ‘struggling’ comes to mind? Perhaps it should. After all, do we not find our minds wandering and our patience waning? What a comfort it is to know that even in the early church, and even with such a missionary as Epaphras, prayer is a struggle. Let us not be put off the great task of prayer by our weaknesses, but resolve to struggle on.
And note the prayer: “that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God”. Here is a reminder that for all of us growth is necessary part of the Christian life, however, young or old we may be. Maturity in our faith also gives an assurance that we are living in accordance with God’s will, and that in turn gives us peace. Such is the prayer of Epaphras.
In an age of church growth techniques, and flurries of initiatives the example of Epaphras reminds us of what is really needed to revive the fortunes of the church. Prayer. So please pray for your local church, the people who sit in the pews around you. Pray that they will grow in their faith. O for more in the mould of Epaphras!