devotional

12JAN
2014

The Sweetness of Prayer

 

“Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ, sends you his greetings, always laboring earnestly for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God,” Colossians 4:12. In about AD 62, the Christians in Colosse received Paul’s letter addressed to them from Rome, Italy by the hands of Tychicus and Onesimus. They had never met St. Paul himself. The church in Colosse met in the house of Philemon and Apphia. Their pastor, Epaphras had gone to Rome, found the Apostle Paul in jail, made mention of his church back home and addressed some of their concerns to him. The four chapter letter to the Colossians was the result.

     Epaphras is mentioned throughout it as the pastor of the church. As far as we know, however, he never returned to the City of Colosse after it was written. Toward the end of the letter Paul makes the statement cited above about Epaphras’ heartfelt prayers for this healthy church. What a blessing it must have been for them to hear of their pastor’s continued love and dedication towards them. Epaphras had brought them the gospel. As it’s written: “…How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!” Romans 10:15b. He had brought them the truth of the Resurrection through which God had delivered them from hell, and now they hear that he passionately intercedes for them still even while away. Paul had already publicly commended Epaphras and the message he’d brought them. He writes with joy of the gospel they had, “…learned from Epaphras…a faithful servant of Christ,” Colossians 1:7. They saw their departed pastor commended by the eminent Apostle, and would be even more assured of the soundness of his teaching thereby. 1 Corinthians 3:10 contains a principle applicable to every minister in every place when Paul says, “According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it.” Paul got to know Epaphras in Rome and could testify by Epaphras’ sound love of Christ that he’d indeed done so in this church. Epaphras built Colosse well. Now here they read how he’s, “…always laboring earnestly for [them] in his prayers.” He’s in Rome; they’re a long way away in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey). They hear that their pastor still loves them enough to be in a type of prayer Paul describes as, “agonizing.” The Greek here is transliterated agonizoma and we can clearly see how this word comes into English. He loved them. He, like Paul, prayed for this church for their growth and maturity.

     To pray for others is not only an immense privilege before God, but also a blessing like no other to those who are made aware you’d love them enough to do so. This is no joke, and is not for the immature. Should any saint’s prayers for you be able to be called agonizing then you can be sure that they’ve got God’s ear on your behalf. Do you pray for other people? Do you make time to get to know their needs and talk to God about them? It is a taste of heaven to experience fellowship through selfless prayers from and for other believers. Of course, we should also be in prayer for non-believers as well. We see the love Epaphras had for his people. May we all be inspired to pray for others by his example!

     Churches like the one in Colosse don’t come out of nowhere. They come from the prayers and the teachings of men like Epaphras.

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