Life of prayer
Epaphras, who is one of you, a bondservant of Christ, greets you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. For I bear him witness that he has a great zeal for you, and those who are in Laodicea, and those in Hierapolis. Colossians 4:12-13
Paul talks about prayer life in all his epistles. The prayer life of Epaphras has influenced Paul in many ways and he calls him as a prayer warrior and faithful servant of Christ.
I came across a quote of Leonard Ravenhill mentioned in his book “Why revival tarries”. He talks about three groups of people. The self-sufficient does not pray, the self-satisfied will not pray, the self-righteous cannot pray. No man is greater than his prayer life. Are we in the above group of people? Is our prayer life focussed on worldly desires or eternal desires?
When Paul was writing this epistle, he was tortured and locked up in a Roman jail. If I were in that situation, I would normally pray for my own freedom, however here we see that Paul was praying for the spiritual deliverance of the saints. The importance of praying spiritually is that we understand Gods desires and align ours with His. It is not an easy task. Another important aspect is that when we pray in Spirit our priorities will change.
Paul mentions Epaphras as a fellow servant, fellow soldier and faithful minister of Christ
In Roman culture, calling servant is very heinous. When we read in Exodus 21, a servant is the property of the master who must not have any desires or ambition or cannot make a decision on his own. In addition, the servants who love their masters get their ears pierced and stay with them for life. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 that we are not our own, we are brought by our master so that He gets glorified in us. In 1 Peter 1:18 we read that we are not redeemed by gold or silver which are corruptible, we are redeemed with the precious blood of Jesus Christ. We were once condemned for death, but our God brought us from those non-valuable traditions of our ancestors, delivered us from darkness, bondage and evil strategies.
Many of us believe that because we left our religious traditions, relatives, social life etc to follow Jesus Christ, then God is a debtor to us. No, my dear friends, never ever have that thought in you. We are the one who is in debt to God. There were so many around us who were more qualified and righteous, but Gods eyes saw us, His mercy and grace fell on us. Let us worship, praise and thank Him for what He has done for us. Epaphras realised this truth in his life and his desires and priorities changed. I also want to remind you that, we are not servants anymore; we are Gods adopted sons and daughters which gives us the right to call Him as “Abba Father”.
The best measuring scale of our spiritual life is our personal prayer in our secret prayer room. Are our prayers self-centred? Here we see Epaphras was praying for his believers to stand perfect and complete in the will of God.
We read in this verse that Epaphras wrestled in prayer. Paul was amazed to see, even when Epaphras was close to death, he was not praying for his deliverance, he was praying for the believers who will get distressed because of his sickness. That is the meaning of being zealous. Another great example is Jesus who wrestled in prayer at Gethsemane. In Hebrews 5, we read that Jesus Christ prayed with cries and tears. When apostles saw that intimate prayer relationship of Jesus Christ with God, they wanted to learn how to pray. Paul noticed this same prayer life in Epaphras. Let us humbly ask Lord to give the same heart, which Jesus had in His life and many other saints of the Bible had in their life.
Another prayer we see is the prayer Jesus did on that cross. One theologian mentioned that the prayer on the cross is the most costly prayer the world has ever witnessed. The ultimate prayer of Jesus Christ on the cross to God, asking for the forgiveness of the people who crucified Him. In Exodus 32 we read that Moses pleaded with Lord his God not to show wrath on the disobedience of the Israelites even when God promised him that He will make Moses into a great nation. Then, we read that Moses refused to take that offer from God. He also reminds God about the promise He gave to Abraham. Do we have a heart like this? To pray for others by forsaking our own comfort and happiness.
To become like Epaphras or any other prayer warrior in the Bible, the first step is to have an intimate relationship with God not only through prayer but also meditating on the word of God. Once we have that our prayer life will change and we will have the heart of Jesus Christ.