A few weeks ago I read the book of Colossians three times within the span of nine days. It was pretty amazing! This book has quickly become one of my favorites, and if you haven’t read this theologically rich and hope-filled book, I encourage you to do so immediately! Since Colossians has four chapters I read one chapter per day for four days and then repeated this process over the next four days. On the ninth day I read the entire book in one sitting. It was interesting how each time I read through the chapters something new grabbed my attention. One of those things was the name, Epaphras.
I hadn’t really noticed Epaphras in the opening chapter but he caught my attention in the fourth. However, on my final read through I saw it- he was there in the first chapter as well! Although not a lot was written about him, what was written was pretty incredible. And it got me thinking, This is the kind of friend I want to be. This is how I want to pray for the people I love.
So who was Epaphras? He was the founder of the church at Colossae and a fellow prisioner with Paul (Philemon 23). When Paul wrote his letter to the church at Colossae (Colossians) he described Epaphras as a fellow servant and faithful minister of Christ on the church’s behalf (Colossians 1:7-8). Again at the conclusion of his letter, Paul wrote, “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).
Always struggling on your behalf in his prayers. What an incredible description of the way believers can love and minister to one another. And look at the depth which Epaphras prayed: that his brothers and sisters in Christ would be mature and fully assured in the will of God. Is there anything better for which we could pray?
In chapter one Paul wrote of the way in which he and Epaphras prayed together for the church body- and let me tell you, it both convicted and challenged me. While I pray daily for various friends and family members, I can’t say I’ve ever prayed for them quite like these two men:
“And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy” (Colossians 1:9-11).
What a beautiful and deep way to pray for those we love. Truly, spending time in prayer on one another’s behalf is one of the most loving things we can do for our friends, family, and fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. By all means, let’s continue to pray for one another regarding recovery from sickness, job decisions, and all the daily stressors and struggles we encounter. We are called to share one another’s burdens! But let’s not forget to pray for one another’s spiritual growth as well. Let’s love each other well by praying for one another according to the example given us by Paul and Epaphras.
May we pray for our brothers and sisters in this way:
-To be filled with the knowledge of His will
-For spiritual wisdom and understanding
-That they may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, pleasing to Him
-That they may bear fruit in good works
-For increase in their knowledge of God
-That they will be strengthened with all power according to God’s glorious might
-For all endurance, patience, and joy