Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. For I bear him record, that he hath a great zeal for you, and them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis. ~Colossians 4:12-13
Growing up as a kid, my grandfather got me hooked on watching “All Star Wrestling” with him on Friday nights. Even though it was hokey and scripted, it did impress on me many wrestling terms such as the headlock, full nelson, arm bar, and many other terms. Wrestling was a very popular contact sport and was included in the Olympic game competitions in Paul’s day. Paul uses the idea of wrestling in Col. 4:12 to describe the kind of praying a man named Epaphras prayed. The phrase “labouring fervently for you in prayers” means “to wrestle in one’s praying for other people.”
We see concentrated PRAYING.
Laboring fervently in prayer teaches us that praying takes effort, work, and focus. Paul uses the idea of wrestling here and in Rom. 15:30. Just as a wrestling match involves two opponents grappling to overcome the other, real praying is when we are grappling against the devil for the souls and needs of those for whom we pray. This kind of praying is associated with supplications for other people. It is like Jacob who wrestled with an angel all night and told the angel, “I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.” It is praying that prays through a need and does not stop until the Holy Spirit has indicated to move on. It is the kind of praying where there is more heart involvement than there are words.
We see a consuming PASSION.
Epaphras prayed that the believers would stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. He had a great zeal for the people of Colosse, Laodicea, and Hierapolis. He prayed for them to be in and stay in God’s will for their lives. His praying was detailed, specific, and determined. He prayed that Satan would not sift them as wheat. He prayed that they would not fall away to temptation. He prayed that they would live for God and win souls to Christ. He prayed for more souls to be saved in this tri-city area.
We see a conscientious PARTNER.
This kind of praying is most evident with a man or woman who has a selfless concern for the spiritual needs of others. I believe he was the pastor of the church at Colosse. He kept the members and people close to his heart and brought them before the Lord always. In fact, Paul said Epaphras was “always labouring fervently for you in prayers.” He only knew one type of praying. He had a grasp or headlock on the specific needs, and knew how to get a hold of God with detailed praying for his congregation. Paul heard and watched him pray. He showed his knowledge of those he ministered to through his praying.
We see a continuous PRACTICE.
This kind of praying is not a one-time practice. It is a practice we must exercise always. “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness in this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Wrestling in praying is not something that only Epaphras did. I believe Abraham prayed like this in Gen. 18. I believe Samuel did this kind of praying (as did his mother, Hannah). I believe Elijah and Elisha prayed like this throughout their ministry. Daniel did this kind of praying. Perhaps the best example of wrestling in praying is the Lord Jesus Christ.
Is your praying sporadic, powerless, and unproductive? Consider Epaphras and his praying. Isolate an hour at a time to learn and exercise the practice of laboring fervently in prayer. Get a headlock on the kind of praying that moves the hand of God!
Have a prayerful God Morning!